Biographical Sketch

Dr. Sam Zizzi received his B.A. in Psychology from James Madison University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. After that, he completed his M.S. in Exercise Science with a Specialization in Sport Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his master’s degree, he taught physical activity courses for two years as a graduate assistant and was recognized for teaching excellence. He finished his graduate work in 2000 at West Virginia University with his doctorate in Sport Psychology with a Minor Area of Emphasis in Counseling.

Subsequent to graduation, Zizzi completed the requirements to become a Certified Consultant through AASP, and was listed on the United States Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology Registry. He has worked with numerous athletes at the university and in the local community. He also has experience working in exercise settings helping youth and adults start and maintain active and healthy lifestyles.

Since 2008, he has served as the principal investigator on a contract with West Virginia’s largest public insurance agency to coordinate the state’s largest weight loss program. Zizzi and his colleagues have authored numerous reports and manuscripts on this program’s development and its outcomes. Some of their work is available at Zizzi was recognized as a research Fellow by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology in 2012. He has reviewed conference abstracts for AASP for many years and serves as member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. He is also a manuscript reviewer for seven other journals, in the fields of SEP and public health.

Zizzi’s research interests span both sport and exercise psychology. On the sport psychology side, he pursues applied projects related to professional issues (certification, ethics), the psychology of injury, and attitudes towards sport psychology. On the exercise psychology side, his work focuses on health behavior change, primarily related to physical activity promotion and obesity prevention.

When Zizzi is not slaving away on academic pursuits, he is probably traveling or spending time with his family. Around Morgantown, he can usually be found running, hiking, swimming, or practicing yoga. He is also an avid guitar player and enjoys forest bathing in some of West Virginia’s wonderful outdoor spaces. 

Professional Highlights

  • Research fellow and certified consultant in the association for applied Sport Psychology
  • Principal investigator and research coordinator for the WV PEIA weight management program
  • An enthusiastic teacher who has been recognized multiple times for teaching and advising excellence


  • Teaching Excellence Award, WVU School of Physical Education (2002, 2004, 2006)
  • Outstanding Research / Creativity Award, WVU School of Physical Education (2003-2006, 2010)
  • Grantsperson of the Year, WVU School of Physical Education (2004, 2007, 2010)
  • Outstanding Service Award, WVU School of Physical Education (2007)


Dr Zizzi video

Sam Zizzi – an Elkins native who teaches in the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, sees many students in his classes who want to build careers in health. They’re motivated. They want to make change. And they soon learn that there are barriers and frustrations that must be overcome on the road to wellness. Read the full story.

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Sam Zizzi Roads Scholar

2016 Roads Scholar Academy
Walking the West Virginia Hills: The Importance of Physical Activity for Adults

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