Kelli Sharp

Dr. Kelli Sharp is an Associate Professor, and Chair of the Department of Dance in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Dr. Sharp serves as the Co-Vice Chair for Research for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the UCI School of Medicine.

Dr. Sharp’s main mission is to contribute to the emerging field of dance science and to contribute to dancer health, wellness, and education, as well as making discoveries in the dance world that translate to other populations. Her background in physical therapy, basic science, clinical research, my lifelong interest in dance, and my keen interest in the investigation and analysis of movement patterns, as well as understanding their origins and benefits, position her perfectly to bridge the sciences and the arts.

The Sharp lab takes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating the application of clinical neuroscience to the study of dance, while conversely using dance as a therapeutic tool in the rehabilitation of human disease/injury. She implements a similar strategy to build a strong teaching program that emphasizes dance rehabilitation based on empirical evidence guided by my research. Currently, research in dance science is sparse, highlighting the critical need for integrating more research into the arts. The first theme of the Sharp research program is aimed at “movement science”, which applies principles from biomechanics, motor learning, and neural plasticity to enhance injury prevention, motor control, and physical performance. This is a topic that is well-suited to bridging the gap between science and the arts. The second theme of Sharp’s research program is aimed at using movement therapies to treat individuals with neurological disorders (e.g. using dance training to help rehabilitate individuals with brain injuries). Sharp lab is very excited to be advancing research in these areas, while at the same time building collaboration and communication between the arts and sciences.

Research Interests:
Functional MRI
Motor Learning
Motor Control
Balance Control
Performance Anxiety

Select Publications:

  1. Smith JA, Tain R, Sharp KG, Glynn LM, Van Dillen LR, Henslee K, Jacobs JV, Cramer SC. Identifying the neural correlates of anticipatory postural control: A novel fMRI paradigm. Hum Brain Mapp. (2023) Jul;44(10):4088-4100. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.26332.
  2. Sanders, Q., Chan, V., Augsburger, R., Cramer, S.C., Reinkensmeyer, D.J., Sharp, K., (2022). Feasibility of home hand rehabilitation using music glove after chronic spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord Series and Cases 8. DOI: 10.1038/s41394-022-00552-4.
  3. Tando T, Horiuchi S, Yu HJ, Luk A, Russell JA, Sharp K, Yoshioka H. (2021) Quantitative MRI analysis of the talocrural and talonavicular joints in ballet dancers.  Journal of Dance Medicine & Science.  March 12;25(1): 38-45. DOI: 10.12678/1089-313X.031521f.
  4. Horiuchi S, Yu HJ, Luk A, Rudd A, Ton J, Kuoy E, Russell JA, Sharp K, Yoshioka H. (2020) T1rho and T2 mapping of ankle cartilage of female and male ballet dancers. Acta Radiologica. Feb 6. Oct;61(10):1365-1376. DOI: 10.1177/0284185120902381.
  5. Lakes, K.D., Sharp, K., Grant-Beutler, M., Neville, R., Lopez-Ortiz, C., Sunnico, R., Ho, D., Schneider, M., Sawitz, S., Paulsen, J., Caputo, K., Haddad, F., Lu, K., Aminian, A., & Radom-Aizik, S. (2019).  A six-week therapeutic ballet program improved gait and inhibitory control in children with cerebral palsy. Frontiers in Public Health – Children and Health. Sep 3;116(36):17690-17695. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00137.
  6. Sharp KG, Gramer R, Kim S, Page SJ, Cramer SC. 2017. Increased Brain Sensorimotor Network Activation After Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury. Journal of Neurotrauma. Feb;34(3):623-63 DOI:10.1089/neu.2016.4503.
  7. Onishi, K., Karimi, D., Hata, J., Newcomb, R., Cramer, S., Sharp, K. G., Reinkensmeyer, D. J., Adcock, E. M. (2016). The Badges Program: A Self-Directed Learning Guide for Residents for Conducting Research and a Successful Peer-Reviewed Publication. MedEdPortal. DOI:10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10443.
  8. Sharp KG, Duarte J*, Gebrekristos B, Perez S, Steward O, Reikensmeyer DJ. 2015. Robotic Rehabilitator of the Rodent Upper Extremity (RUE): A system and method for assessing and training forelimb force production after neurological injury. Journal of Neurotrauma. DOI: 10.1089/neu.2015.3987.

Awards and Honors:
Nov. 2022       UCI Faculty Academy for Teaching Excellence Fellow (
Dec. 2020      Faculty Innovation Fellow; UCI Beall Applied Innovation Fellowship
Sept. 2019     UROP Faculty of the Month
May 2019       Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research, CTSA
Sept. 2018     CTSA Service Award for 2018

Lectures and Talks

Rehab, Robots & Dance: The Connection Between Physical Movement and Rehabilitation

Kelli Sharp - "Memory and Movement Interactive Session"

Chair and Associate Professor of Dance Science
Co-Director of iMove Lab, UCI’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center (SCRC)
Co-Vice Chair for Research for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UCI School of Medicine
(949) 824-5145