Our Team

The Sanford Sports Science Institute focuses on new research to address training, competition and rehabilitation challenges for youth, intercollegiate, professional and recreational athletes.

Michael Bergeron, PhD, FACSM

Executive Director

Dr. Bergeron is the Executive Director of the Sanford Sports Science Institute and National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute and a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota at the Sanford USD Medical Center. He also has an appointment as a Senior Scientist in Sanford Children’s Health Research Center. Internationally recognized for his research and leadership in exercise-heat stress and youth athletic health, Dr. Bergeron is a Fellow and past Trustee of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and is currently a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the International Olympic Committee postgraduate Diploma Program in Sports Medicine. Dr. Bergeron serves as an Editorial Board member for the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and Journal of Athletic Training. He also serves as a clinical and scientific consultant to the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Professional Tour Medical Services. Dr. Bergeron has worked with numerous youth, collegiate, and professional athletes on appropriately and safely enhancing athletic capacity and resilience by providing individualized and sport-specific training and nutrition/hydration guidance, with a particular emphasis on preparation, competition, and recovery strategies in the heat and helping athletes to avoid exertional heat illness and injury. Learn about Dr. Bergeron here

Verle Valentine, MD, FACSM

Co-Medical Director

Dr. Valentine is the Co-Medical Director for the Sanford Sports Science Institute and Assistant Professor at the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota. Dr. Valentine has a profound interest in health, wellness, and injury prevention. His extensive background is supported by his teaching, research, publications, and ongoing medical practice. He also serves as the Director of the Sports Concussion Program at Sanford Health, and the Assistant Medical Director for the Sanford Sports Medicine Outreach programs. His training includes a residency in Family Medicine and fellowship in Sports Medicine, as well as a master's degree in Exercise Physiology. Dr. Valentine has a special interest in child and adolescent athletic injuries, running injuries, and sports-related concussions. He is also an expert in the treatment of athletic and activity-type injuries. He has served as a team physician in many capacities including the WNBA, NBA, LPGA, and multiple DI universities. Currently, Dr. Valentine is the team physician for South Dakota State University and the the University of South Dakota, University of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants, and Augustana College. He also maintains a clinical practice as a Sports Medicine Physician with Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Learn about Dr. Valentine here

Ben Noonan, MD

Co-Medical Director

Dr. Noonan is the Co-Medical Director for the Sanford Sports Science Institute and an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine with an extensive background in biomechanics and human performance. His focus areas in orthopedic surgery include arthroscopic and open hip, knee and shoulder surgery. Dr. Noonan’s training includes a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Dakota State University and a master’s degree in exercise science and biomechanics from St Cloud State University where he served as the strength and conditioning coach for the men’s hockey team. He obtained his MD and completed a residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Yale University and went on to complete a fellowship in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at the University of Michigan where he was a member of the football medical staff. Dr. Noonan has a special passion for ice hockey which was fostered during his youth hockey coaching experience in his hometown of Moorhead, MN. He has published scientific and clinical articles related to ice hockey metabolism and thermoregulation, and he is currently working on several performance and biomechanical projects related to hockey. Dr. Noonan serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and is a certified member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS), as well as a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He currently serves as the team physician for the Moorhead High football and hockey teams, as well as the Fargo Force.

Thayne Munce, PhD

Associate Director

Dr. Munce is an Associate Director (Environmental/Applied Physiology) of the Sanford Sports Science Institute and an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota. He also has an appointment as a Secondary Assistant Scientist in Sanford Children’s Health Research Center. Dr. Munce is currently a member of the ACSM Strategic Health Initiative–Youth Sports and Health Committee. He has conducted numerous research studies in the areas of human thermoregulation and applied exercise physiology. Additionally, Dr. Munce has practical experience in athletic health and performance as a former collegiate athlete and sports performance coach, working primarily with adolescents and young adults. Dr. Munce has a particular interest in translating the most current, evidence-based knowledge into practical applications on the playing field and in the clinic through research, education and delivery of sports medicine services. Learn about Dr. Munce here

Jason C. Dorman, MS, CSCS

Operations Manager

Jason is the Operations Manager for the Sanford Sports Science Institute at the Sanford USD Medical Center. He has his Master's degree in kinesiology with a primary emphasis in exercise physiology and secondary emphasis in biomechanics. Jason is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Jason worked as a Sport Science Intern at the US Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY and also as a Post-Graduate Scholar in the exercise physiology department at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, Australia. Jason has tested and advised myriad high school, collegiate and professional athletes in numerous sports, including gold medal and world record-breaking Olympic athletes.

Noaa Bujanover, MS, RD, CSP, LD/N, CSCS

Sports Dietician

Noaa is the Sports Dietitian for the Sanford Sports Science Institute at the Sanford USD Medical Center. She earned her Master’s Degree in Food and Nutrition Sciences from Florida State University with an emphasis in sports nutrition. Noaa is a certified specialist in pediatric nutrition (CSP) with varied and extensive experience in the athletic and clinical settings. As the primary outpatient dietitian at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL, Noaa led all aspects of sports nutrition for the multi-disciplinary AllSports Medicine program focusing on children and teen athletes. In addition to her nutrition background, Noaa is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, giving her a distinct advantage in helping athletes to optimally fuel for meeting their training and conditioning and performance goals. She was also certified as a personal trainer and gained valuable related experience in sports injuries during her tenure at the world-renowned Wingate Institute in Israel.

Noaa is an integral member of our team in providing nutrition consultation to high school, collegiate and professional athletes and sports teams, utilizing individual assessments and evaluation of dietary practices, body composition and energy balance, in the context of achieving optimal athletic performance and health. She also manages and promotes the Sanford Sports Nutrition blog. Noaa has participated in many individual and team sports such as running, soccer, basketball, tennis, cycling and martial arts, with a recent passion for triathlons.

Sara Van Roekel, BS, CPT-NASM

Director Assistant

Sara is the Director Assistant for the Sanford Sports Science Institute. She has her Associate’s degree from Alexandria Technical College’s Health and Fitness Specialist program and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Service Administration at Colorado Technical College. Sara is a Certified Personal Trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She has extensive experience in an administrative setting and also five years of experience working in the fitness and healthcare fields. Sara is responsible for assisting in the management of the day-to-day operations of the Sanford Sports Science Institute.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us at (605) 328-4750.