Dr. Sam Liu

Dr. Sam  Liu
Associate Professor
Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education

Dr. Sam Liu is an Associate Professor from the Department of Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education. Dr. Liu joined the department in 2017 after completing a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of California Los Angeles and has been a research fellow with the Centre for Youth & Society ever since. Dr. Liu is the director of the Digital Health Lab. Dr. Liu also received the Emerging Scholar Award from the University of Victoria in 2020.

Dr. Liu's research focuses on using digital technology to promote health and well-being for individuals of all ages. A large portion of Dr. Liu's work centres around the prevention of obesity in children and family-based interventions with an emphasis on physical activity. In addition to child and family-focused projects, Dr. Liu also does research on exercise habits and physical activity in adult populations. Dr. Liu has also done research on cellphone policies and use in middle school with CFYS research fellow Dr. Ulrich Mueller and on youth suicide with CFYS research fellow Dr. Brianna Turner. 

Community-engaged research

Dr. Liu's work stands out through partnerships with organizations with the goal of knowledge mobilization and translations. In the course of these partnerships, Dr. Liu's team completes the research then communicates the findings to community partners who disseminate the information and implement the in populations where it is most needed. Notable partners include the Child Obesity Foundation and the BC Ministry of Health. 

Draco: Tamagotchi meets exercise

Recently, Dr. Liu's research has explored the effectiveness of web-based technology as an intervention for preteen children getting less than the recommended 60 minutes of physical 
Draco A Gamified Health App with a picture of a cartoon dragon
activity per day. Dr. Liu's team has created Draco the Dragon, a smartphone app that provides children with a virtual pet. Drawing inspiration from the popular Tamagotchi toys from the 1990s, Draco not only encourages children to care for their pets but incorporates real-life physical activity. Data collection for this project is ongoing, although preliminary results are promising.​

Recently in 2021, Dr. Liu was awarded the childhood obesity management using innovative digital technology award from the Michael Smith Foundation for his work.

Dr. Sam Liu, an East Asian man, holding up a smartphone surrounded by four images of a young girl running.
Dr. Sam Liu pictured with a youth participant from a demonstration of the Draco app. Photo: UVic Photo Services

Recent publications

Perdew, M., Liu, S., Rhodes, R., Ball, G., Mâsse, L. C., Hartrick, T., Strange, K., & Naylor, P. J. (2021). The Effectiveness of a Blended In-Person and Online Family-Based Childhood Obesity Management Program. Childhood obesity (Print)17(1), 58–67. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2020.0236

Liu, S., Lithopoulos, A., Zhang, C.-Q., Garcia-Barrera, M. A., & Rhodes, R. E. (2021). Personality and perceived stress During Covid-19 pandemic: Testing the mediating role of perceived threat and efficacy. Personality and Individual Differences, 168, 110351. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110351 

Zhang, C. Q., Chung, P. K., Cheng, S. S., Yeung, V. W., Zhang, R., Liu, S., & Rhodes, R. E. (2020). An Update on Physical Activity Research among Children in Hong Kong: A Scoping Review. International journal of environmental research and public health17(22), 8521. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228521 

More publications