Sarah Donnelly, Ph.D., M.S.

Assistant Professor in Health & Wellness

Contact Information

  • 250-3846
  • 462 Sherrill Center

Office Hours

  • Monday 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Wednesday 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Friday 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Note: Zoom appointments available by request. Please email to schedule an appointment.


Sarah grew up in southwestern Virginia and attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate before moving to New York City for her Master’s in Human Nutrition at Columbia University. After a year spent in Amman, Jordan teaching at the Modern American School, Sarah returned to Virginia Tech to pursue her Ph.D. in Human Nutrition and Epigenetics. Her dissertation focused on examining the reprogramming mechanisms of epigenetic markers during the progression and remission of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Following the completion of her Ph.D. program, Sarah began her work as a postdoctoral researcher in Siobhan Craige’s lab at Virginia Tech, where her work focused primarily on vascular biology and mammalian health.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, and hanging out with her dogs.

Research Interests

Her research interests are primarily related to genotypic and phenotypic alterations in metabolic disease states, especially as they relate to alterations following behavioral interventions. She is very passionate about the study of diverse pedagogical practices in exercise/nutrition related fields.


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise from Virginia Tech
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Human Nutrition from Columbia University
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise from Virginia Tech

Equity Statement

Sarah believes that encouraging diversity within the fields of exercise and health serves to create a more collaborative educational atmosphere, encouraging the exchanging of ideas and perspectives and, importantly, reemphasizing the importance of exercise and nutrition on human health for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or social standing. Nutrition and exercise matter! Every person should have the opportunity to be educated on and participate in the many facets of human health as they relate to exercise and healthy, nutritious eating.

Courses Taught

  • HWP 223: Physical Activity and Exercise
  • HWP 420: Exercise Physiology
  • HWP 235: Anatomy and Physiology II
  • HWP 401: Nutrition and Metabolism
  • HWP 455: Pathophysiology of Chronic Conditions and Illnesses


  • Kalyn Specht, Adele Addington, Shashi Kant, Ryan McMillan, Matthew Hulver, Heather Learnard, Maura Campbell, Sarah Donnelly, Amada Caliz, Yongmei Pei, Michaella Reif, Anthony DeMarco, Jacob Bond, John F. Keaney Jr., Siobhan M. Craige. Nox4-ROS mediate substrate oxidation following acute exercise resulting in adaptation to exercise. Molecular Metabolism. 2021
  • Donnelly SR, Hinkle SN, Rawal S, et al. Prospective study of gestational diabetes and fatty liver scores 9 to 16 years after pregnancy. J Diabetes. 2019.
  • Francis, E. C., Hinkle, S, H., Rawal, S., Song, Y., Donnelly, S. R., Liu, D., Zhu, Y., Tsai, M., Chen, L. & Zhang, C. (2018). Longitudinal Associations of Vitamin D Concentrations During Pregnancy and Neonate Body Composition. Nutrients; 10
  • Liu L., Zheng L.D., Donnelly S.R., Emont M.P., Wu J., Cheng Z. (2017) Isolation of Mouse Stromal Vascular Cells for Monolayer Culture. In: Wu J. (eds) Thermogenic Fat. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1566. Humana Press, New York, NY

Invited Talks and Presentations

  • Jacob Bond, Adele Addington, Sarah Donnelly, Kalyn Specht, Anthony Demarco, Kulyash Zhumadilova, Siobhan Craig (2020). Toxic Molecules Drive Beneficial Exercise Adaptations. Translational Biology, Medicine & Health Spring Poster Session. Roanoke, Virginia.
  • Donnelly S. et al. Evolving PhD Education: Comparison Between Switzerland (Europe) and the United States | June 21, 2019 | Presented at the Embassy of Switzerland | Washington, D.C.
  • Donnelly S., Hipple B., Ireland L., Mackza D. Development of the PrepLab: an Open Educational Resources Repository | March 4, 2019 | Presented at the Open Education Symposium | Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Donnelly S., Hipple B., Ireland L., Mackza D. Barriers to the Adoption of Open Educational Resources in Teaching | February 6, 2019 | Presented at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy | Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Donnelly S, Stefanie N. Hinkle, Shristi Rawal, Louise G. Grunnet, Jorge E. Chavarro, Allan Vaag, Jing Wu, Peter Damm, James Mills, Mengying Li, Anne Ahrendt Bjerregaard, Anne Cathrine Baun Thuesen, Robert E. Gore-Langton, Ellen C. Francis, Sylvia H. Ley, Frank B. Hu, Michael Y. Tsai, Sjurdur F. Olsen, Cuilin Zhang. Gestational Diabetes is Associated with Subsequent Liver Dysfunction 9 to 16 Years after the Index Pregnancy in a Prospective Cohort Study. (Accepted to 78th  American Diabetes Association (ADA) Conference).
  • Donnelly S, Hinkle S, Wu J, Rawal S, Francis E, Li M, Zhang C. (2017). Identifying Novel and Early Risk Factors of Liver Dysfunction: A Prospective Study of Diabetes in Pregnancy and Liver Function 9 to 15 Years Postpartum. Presented at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Summer Poster Day, Bethesda, Maryland 2017.
  • Ryan Lupi, Mitchell Allen, Morgan Daughtry, Sarah Donnelly, Kellen Levinson, Justin Perry, Kalyn Specht, Alex Thomson, Con-Ning Yen, and David A. Brown (2018). Methodological approaches to determine mitochondrial health and dysfunction: Laboratory insights from HNFE 5984 Mitochondrial Bioenergetics. Presented at the Virginia Tech/VTCRI Muscle symposium. Roanoke, Virginia, 2018.
  • Francis E, Hinkle S, Rawal S, Donnelly S, Wu J, Zhang C. (2017) Longitudinal Associations of Viamind D Conentrations During Preganancy and Neonate Body Composition. Presented at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Summer Poster Day. Bethesda, Maryland 2017.
  • Doering J, DeRusso A, Donnelly S, Burkin D., Cheng Z, Chin E, Schmelz E, Grange R. (2014). Dietary sphingolipids modulate muscle power and inflammation in mdx mice. Presented at the New Directions in Biology and Disease of Skeletal Muscle Conference, Chicago, IL, June 2014.
  • Donnelly S, Doering J, Schmelz E, Grange R W. (2012) Serum Creatine Kinase in Sphingomyelin Treated Dystrophic Mice. Presented at the Virginia Tech Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. Blackburg, Virginia.