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Adam Whisler, a PhD Student and Tillman Scholar, Has a Mission for Military Fitness

It might take longer than one of the ultramarathon races he enjoys doing to name the many accomplishments and accolades Adam Whisler has garnered as an athlete, military member, and Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMU) student.


That list became even more impressive in June 2023 when the RMU Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences student and former Army officer was honored as a Tillman Scholar.

The Pat Tillman Foundation scholarship helps empower veterans and military spouses with a proven track record of high potential for impact. Adam earned this accolade through his myriad accomplishments, some of which include:

— Four-year varsity letter winner as a Division I athlete at Indiana University and President’s Award winner as the top-ranked cadet in IU’s Army ROTC program.

— Competed in grueling ultramarathon runs, Ranger Challenges, and powerlifting tournaments, using a remarkable combination of fitness, strength, and endurance.

— Awarded a Bronze Star Medal, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and an Army Commendation Medal during 3.5 years as an active duty officer.

— Graduated as Indiana University’s 2017 class valedictorian with a 3.996 GPA and then earned a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Florida State University with a 3.99 GPA.

What’s Next on the Docket

Adam is pursuing a PhD with a lofty goal in mind. With his background in the Army, athletics, and education, he intends to directly influence the health and human performance mission of the entire military in a leadership role.

“Throughout my time in combat, I have seen fitness be the difference between life and death,”  Adam told the Tillman Foundation. “I aim to empower service members with tools to optimize their fitness for improved health.”


With a doctoral degree, Adam plans on continuing his innovative health-mentoring approach. This includes using the expert artificial intelligence system he developed to individualize workout programs for service members. Personalized lifestyle shifts and behavior changes lead to improvements to their holistic health. In turn, they experience improved physical performance, decreased injury rates, and enhanced adherence to training routines.

“The program essentially guides a client through every question a quality personal trainer would, and then the client’s answers produce an auto-generated response that I programmed it to make based on the user feedback,” Adam explained. “The user interface interacts with an algorithmic model that’s using a large knowledge base of information to produce a result.”

Why Choose RMU for a PhD Program

After earning degrees at Indiana and Florida State, Adam was drawn to RMU after researching its staff members in the Health Sciences Department compared to other options.

“There are many highly respected professors at RMU, and I was convinced that I should attend RMU after analyzing all the online Human Performance programs in the nation,” he said. “After four semesters, I can say with immense confidence that I made the right choice. I would highly recommend RMU to anyone seeking to progress in their field. The staff, professors, and resources available to you during your time at RMU are wonderful.”

Setting His Sights Even Higher

Though he has already achieved so much, Adam has a good sense of humor about an accomplishment that has narrowly evaded him so far. After receiving one measly A-minus in his four years at IU and another darn A-minus in his graduate studies at FSU, he is determined to get straight-As in his Human & Sport Performance concentration track at RMU.

“It’s finally time to earn a 4.0!” he joked.

So far, so good. Through four semesters, Adam has maintained a 4.0 GPA even while continuing to challenge himself physically and professionally. In 2023, he qualified for National, North American and World Championships in powerlifting, and was promoted to be the sole strength and conditioning specialist for the U.S. Space Force at Schriever Space Force Base.

And there’s much more to come.

“I am 28 years old, so I would like to complete an Ironman, 100-mile ultra marathon, and the World Championships in Powerlifting in the next three years,” he said. “By age 31, I could also have completed these goals by the time I finish my PhD!”


An Impressive Track Record

  • Named Tillman Scholar by Pat Tillman Foundation in June 2023
  • President’s Award for being the top-ranked cadet for four years in Indiana University’s Army ROTC program
  • 4-year varsity letter winner at IU
  • 2-time Ranger Challenge winner with 7th ROTC Brigade in 2-man buddy competition at Xavier University
  • First ultramarathon (50K) in December 2016
  • First marathon in April 2017 with a time of 3:15 (yes, in that order)
  • Second in weight class with a 520-kilogram total in first Powerlifting meet in March 2017
  • Graduated as Indiana University’s 2017 class valedictorian with 3.996 GPA (only one A-minus)
  • Commissioned as Active Duty Army Officer in the Infantry the day after delivering IU commencement speech
  • Served 3.5 years as an active duty officer
  • Ran first 50-mile ultra marathon at North Face Endurance Challenge near West Point, New York, before four-month deployment to Afghanistan (October 2018)
  • Awarded Bronze Star Medal, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and Army Commendation Medal
  • Selected to represent 10th Mountain Division at Army’s Best Ranger Competition in 2020 (event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Battalion’s Officer in charge of Holistic Health and Fitness Initiative
  • Earned Master of Science in Exercise Physiology (Sports Science major) from Florida State University with a 3.99 GPA (one A-minus)
  • Never Summer 100K ultramarathon in Colorado (2022)
  • Qualified for 2023 United States Powerlifting Association National Championships
  • Sole Strength and Conditioning Specialist for the U.S. Space Force at Schriever Space Force Base
  • 2023 Pat Tillman Foundation scholarship winner