Tamar Z. Semerjian, Ph.D.

Professor (Dept. Chair)


Spartan Complex 106


(408) 924-3069



Research Gate Profile

twitter logo @DrtzsSportpsych

Dr. T. Semerjian  



Professor Bio

Dr. Tamar Z. Semerjian received her B.A. degrees in Human Biodynamics and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in sport psychology from the department of Health, Leisure, and Sport Studies from the University of Iowa. She is the director of the Silicon Valley Health Aging Partnership (SVHAP).

Dr. Semerjian is currently a Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology and Chair in the Department of Kinesiology at San José State University.  She teaches several courses in the department including undergraduate courses in sport psychology, sport sociology, stress management, diversity stress and health, and graduate courses in sport psychology and research methods. Dr. Semerjian’s research has included work with older adults, individuals with spinal cord injury, and transgender athletes. 

Generally, her research interests focus on exploring the experiences of marginalized groups in exercise through the lens of both cultural studies and sport psychology. In particular she has been interested in the translation of evidence-based health promotion programs in the community,  the effect of exercise on older adults’ self-perceptions, and the influence of their exercise experience on long-term participation. Because of her belief in the importance of praxis, she has been active in the aging community, implementing exercise programs that are affordable and accessible to diverse populations of older adults.

Dr. Semerjian’s published work has appeared in Spinal Cord, The Sport Psychologist, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, Sociology of Sport Journal, and Women’s Sport and Physical Activity Journal, and she had contributed chapters to Sport for Peace and Social Justice, The Cultural Turn in Sport Psychology, The Hidden Faces of Eating Disorders and Body Image, and Battleground: Sports.


Ph.D. University of Iowa - Health, Leisure, and Sport Studies (Emphasis: Sport Psychology)

Certificate in Aging Studies; University of Iowa, Iowa City. 1999.

M.A. University of Iowa - Health, Leisure, and Sport Studies (Emphasis: Sport Psychology)

B.A. University of California at Berkeley - Human Biodynamics (Emphasis: Sport Psychology and Muscle Physiology)


Expertise, Research & Teaching Interests

My area of expertise focuses on the psychology and cultural studies aspects of exercise across a variety of populations and contexts. My dissertation research focused on older women’s physical self-perceptions and how they related to their physical activity participation. I have taught courses in aging and physical activity, as well as implemented community based partnerships which have allowed students to learn more about exercise and aging through service learning opportunities. I was the founder of the Silicon Valley Healthy Aging Partnership, which continues to support community based organizations to offer evidence based-health promotion programs throughout Santa Clara county. I have published a number of research studies and chapters related to aging and physical activity.

In addition to a focus on aging, I have also worked in the area of disability as a member of a research team that created a cutting-edge exercise program for individuals with spinal cord injuries. My contribution to the team was to consider the psychological and sociocultural impact of the exercise program. I have also worked with transgender athletes, and have focused my research in this area as well, primarily in an effort to advocate for increased inclusion of trans athletes within all sporting and physical activity contexts. Most recently I have become interested in the use of fitness tracking applications, and the ways that the use of fitness trackers and the social media that is often used in conjunction with them impacts individuals’ physical activity experiences. 


Courses Taught

KIN 69 Stress Management

KIN 164 Sport Sociology

KIN 167 Sport Psychology

KIN 169 Diversity Stress and Health

KIN 267 Sport Psychology


Selected Publications

Semerjian, T. Z. (in press). Making space: Transgender athletes. In V. Krane (ed.) Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Sport. Oxon, UK: Taylor and Francis.

Semerjian, T. Z. (2018). The role of gender and social class in physical activity in later life. In S. R. Nyman, A. Barker, T. Haines, K. Horton, C. Musselwhite, G. Peeters, C. R. Victor, & J. K. Woff (Eds.). The Palgrave Handbook of Ageing and Physical Activity Promotion. London:  Palgrave Macmillan.

Semerjian, T. Z. (2017). Aging in the face of technology: The surveillance of bio-others, Movement & Sport Sciences, 97, 27-33.

Jeffries, E. C., Hoffman, S. M., de Leon, R., Dominguez, J. F., Semerjian, T. Z., Melgar, I. A., et al. (2015). Energy expenditure and heart rate responses to increased loading in individuals with motor complete spinal cord injury performing body weight–supported exercises. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 96(8), 1467-1473.

Butryn, T. M., LaVoi, N. M., Kauer, K., Semerjian, T. Z., & Waldron, J. J. (2014). We walk the line: An analysis of the problems and possibilities of work at the sport psychology-sport sociology nexus, Sociology of Sport Journal, 31, 162-184.

Semerjian, T. Z. (2013). Stories from the basement: Narratives on disability. In R. J. Schinke & R. Lidor (Eds.), Sport for Peace and Social Justice. Nova Science Publishers.

Semerjian, T. Z. (2010). Disability in sport and exercise psychology. In T. V. Ryba, R. J. Schinke, & G. Tenenbaum (Eds.), The Cultural Turn in Sport Psychology (pp. 259-284). Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

Selected Presentations

Semerjian, T. Z. (2016). Transgender athletes in inclusive sport spaces. Paper presented at the Social Justice through Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference, Bowling Green, OH. 

Semerjian, T. Z. (2016). Infusing social justice into our teaching. Paper presented at the Social Justice through Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference, Bowling Green, OH.

Semerjian, T. Z. (2015). Measuring fitness one step at a time. Paper presented at the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Conference, Tampa Bay, FL.

Quillen, J. & Semerjian, T. (2015). The effect of a research-based exercise program on balance confidence, quality of life, and functional fitness for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Poster presented at the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, Indianapolis, IN.

Semerjian, T. Z. (2015). Transforming aging bio-others through technology. Paper presented at the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Conference Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Semerjian, T. Z. (2015). A neo-liberal project or community-based participatory research?: A critical look at the Silicon Valley Healthy Aging Partnership. Paper presented at the International Society for the Sociology of Sport, Paris, France.

Semerjian, T. Z. & Manuel, G. (2014) Implementation and outcomes of evidence-based exercise programs: The mobilization of town-gown relationships in launching Active Start. Paper presented at the International SFPS Congress of Sport Psychology , Nice, France.

Undergraduate/Graduate Student Research Supervision

Daniel Vega. Topic: An Autoethnographic Examination of the Embodied Experience of Transitioning While Completing P90X (In progress)

Lisa Lund. Topic: A Comparison of Motivation Patterns among Group-on and Traditional Bootcamp Participants. (Graduated Summer 2014)

Allan Jong . Title: An Examination of Collegiate Ultimate Frisbee Players’ Values of Sportspersonship. (Graduated Fall 2011)

Kelley Cadungug. Title: Christian Football Players: Negotiating the Conflicts Between Sport and Personal Faith (Graduated Fall 2010)

Candice Davis. Title: Confidence Levels of Athletes Returning to Play after Surgery and Rehabilitation (Graduated Fall 2010)

Janet Snider. Title: Determining Athlete Gender Preference for Athletic Trainers (Graduated Fall 2010)

Gina Biviano. Title: Athletic Trainers’ Comfort and Competence in Addressing Psychological Issues of Athletes (Graduated Summer 2010)

Alexis Smith. Title: A Qualitative Analysis of Motivation of Elite Female Triathletes (Graduated Summer 2010)

Juliet Rose. Title: Self-Objectification and Body Shame as Predictors of Sports Participation. (Graduated Summer 2008)

Daniel Murphy. Title: Sociocultural Histories of Professional Soccer in the United States (Late 1800s to the Present). (Graduated December 2007)


Professional Affiliations


Back to Top