Kinesiology and Health Education New Faculty 2019

Sept. 4, 2019

The College of Education welcomes new faculty for the 2019-2020 academic year. This year, the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education is joined by Brian Mills and Conor Heffernan.


Photo of Brian Mills
Brian Mills - Assistant Professor

Brian Mills

What institution were you most previously with and what was your role?

I was previously an assistant professor at the University of Florida (UF) in the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management in the College of Health and Human Performance. I was at UF in this role for seven years before moving to UT Austin.

What are your research interests or area of specialty?  

My research area is the economics of sports leagues. This area of research is an application of the industrial organization and labor fields to the sports industry and its institutions, and most of my work is applied in nature. Much of the work investigates the impact of the considerable market power of sports leagues on various stakeholders such as fans, athletes, and the public sector.

What sparked those interests?  

As an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to complete an honors thesis that got me interested in research in general. Thanks to the curiosity that project sparked, I began reading more and more about the economic workings of professional and collegiate sports before starting my M.A. at the University of Michigan, where I continued on with my Ph.D. As it turns out, sports are economically interesting in their own right due to some favorable federal policy treatment, but they can also be a useful setting in which to test general theories from social science. So, it’s possible to have fun working with sports data and analyzing on-field outcomes while simultaneously contribute to real economic, social, legal, and organizational problems within and outside of the sports industry. 

What are you excited about for your new position at UT? 

UT is, of course, a thriving research environment, and it’s reinvigorating to be around new colleagues and listen to new ideas and research possibilities. I’m really looking forward to develop new research collaborations with other faculty and integrating those into the student experience both in class and as researchers in training.

What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

I hope that I can bring a look into the working of sports organizations, particularly as it intersects economics and social science. Much of my work empirically tests how sports organizations have effects on the welfare for stakeholders, and how these effects can be addressed through proper economic policy implementation. This includes student athletes and their recent labor and antitrust cases with the NCAA, which has been a salient topic over the past few years. And now that Austin is getting a Major League Soccer team, I hope my past and current work can inform the public sector and local residents what a major sports franchise will bring to the community as a whole.


Photo of Conor Heffernan
Conor Heffernan - Assistant Professor of Instruction

Conor Heffernan

What institution were you most previously with and what was your role?

I’ve just finished my Ph.D. at University College Dublin in Ireland where I also acted as a tutor and helper in the university’s writing center.

What are your research interests or area of specialty?  

I’m primarily interested in the history of exercise and how exercise intersects with ideas of race, sexuality, gender and nationalism.

What sparked those interests?  

As an undergraduate, I was lucky enough to have a professor who inspired me to follow in their footsteps. Combined with this, I have a great personal interest in exercise so it all fits rather well!

What are you excited about for your new position at UT? 

Teaching students the history of physical culture. In Ireland, it’s quite rare to find individuals interested in this area. A classroom full of them is a delight!

What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

I hope to contribute scholarship and service.