Priscilla M. Clarkson (1947 - 2013)

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LEVERETT - Priscilla M. Clarkson, 66, dean of Commonwealth Honors College, Distinguished University Professor of kinesiology, nationally recognized researcher in muscle function, and alumna of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, died Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, at her home in Leverett, after a long battle with breast cancer.

Born April 16, 1947, in Worcester, Priscilla was known for her incisive mind, creativity, drive, warmth and tenaciousness. She challenged all around her to perform at their best, and she never gave anything less than her best in return.

In her 36 year career at UMass Amherst, Clarkson rose to the top ranks in her field, authoring more than 200 scientific publications and becoming a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, where she also served multiple roles, including as national president and as foundation president.

She founded and ran the Muscle Biology and Imaging Lab at UMass Amherst and was well known for her work in muscle function and dysfunction. As a researcher and faculty member, she mentored countless graduate and undergraduate students.

The campus awarded Priscilla the Chancellor's Medal in 1997 and the university named her a Distinguished Professor in 2008. She was appointed dean of Commonwealth Honors College in 2006. She is a triple-alumna of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, having earned her undergraduate degree in 1969, her master's degree in 1973 and her doctorate in 1977.

She served on the Massachusetts Governor's Panel to improve police training practices to prevent cases of rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage) leading to kidney failure during training. She has served as a scientific advisor to the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), as a member of the Science Working Group at NASA to develop laboratories for Space Station, and as a scientific advisor to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. She also served as a member of the NCAA Competitive and Medical Safeguards Committee, on the National Commission on Sports and Substance Abuse, and on a subcommittee of the Committee for Military Nutrition at the Institute of Medicine. She served on the Research Review Board of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, the National Lipid Association Statin Safety: Muscle Expert Panel, and the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group. She was editor of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism for eight years, and editor-in-chief of Exercise and Sport Science Reviews.

Priscilla received the 1997 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Citation Award, the 1999 New England ACSM Honor Award, the 2001 Excellence in Education Award from the Gatorade Sport Science Institute, the 2005 National ACSM Honor Award, and the UMass Amherst Graduate School Centennial Award in 2008. In 2007 she gave the keynote Wolffe Lecture at the National ACSM meeting in New Orleans, attended by 5,000 members. She was highly involved with the New England Chapter of ACSM (NEACSM) and served as its president in 1995. In recognition for her service to the chapter, in 2010 the NEACSM named one of the annual meeting's lectures the Clarkson Keynote Lecture.

She served as associate dean for the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. She maintained a lifelong involvement in classical ballet, including as a performer, choreographer, board member and president of the Pioneer Valley Ballet, and co-author/editor of books in dance medicine. She also held a deep love of animals, especially her three dogs, two cats and the birds that visited her yard.

She leaves her husband Ronald Pipkin, professor emeritus of legal studies at UMass Amherst, her mother Mary Massei and her brother Edward (Jay) Massei, Jr., of Millbury. She will be missed by countless friends, colleagues and former students.

A memorial service is being planned for the fall.

Gifts in her memory may be made to the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community for a classroom in her honor, to the UMass Amherst kinesiology department's graduate endowment fund for a fellowship in her honor, at www.umass.edu/give or UMass Amherst Development Office, Memorial Hall, 140 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003, or to the Dakin Animal Shelter.

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Aug. 27, 2013
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