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Samantha Harden, PhD, 500 RYT

Associate Professor
  • Focus area(s): Yoga as an affordable, accessible public health practice; dissemination and implementation science; group dynamics for long-term health behaviors
A Virginia Tech HNFE faculty member stands outside for a photo.
1032 ILSB
  • Graduate Program Track(s): Behavioral & Community Science


Ph.D., Human, Nutrition, and Foods, Virginia Tech, 2012

B.S., Biology, Bridgewater College, 2008


2020 – present: Associate Professor & Exercise Specialist, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2014 – 2020 Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2013 – 2014 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

Selected Major Awards

  • 2022 – First Place, FCS SNAP-Ed Award for LIFT for Better Health: Lifelong Improvements through Fitness Together in North Carolina 
  • 2020 – Program Excellence Award Southwest District Winner Virginia Cooperative Extension 
  • 2021 – Drs. John and Shirley Gerken Professional Development Award Recipient, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 
  • 2017 – Invited Early Career Research Award, International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

Program Focus

Promoting movement, mindfulness, and breathwork for holistic wellbeing for people across the Commonwealth and nation through a participatory approach that values equity, accessibility, and joy. 

A group of people stretch in a yoga studio.
A group of people stand holding dumbbells for a photo.

Program Focus

Dr. Harden is a behavioral psychologist and 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher. She serves Virginia Cooperative Extension as the Exercise Specialist (25% FTE) and is a dissemination and implementation science researcher (75%). Her work centers on the yoga kernels of mindfulness, breath work, and movement. Yoga can promote flourishing (personal, professional, and communal wellbeing) and longevity (healthy aging). Notably, all of our individual-level health behaviors are couched within the community-- which leads to the need for healthy interpersonal dynamics and a focus on setting-level resources, missions, and values for the integration of evidence based interventions.

Dr. Harden’s expertise in the RE-AIM framework (reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, maintenance) is the foundation for her research-practice partnerships that promote healthy lifestyle interventions across various populations for chronic disease prevention and management at the individual- and systems-levels.

Harden values dissemination through multiple channels has therefore has a podcast, Higher Vibrations in Higher Education, and has over 100 peer reviewed journal articles.

Podcast: Spotify + Apple + Google + Amazon