New PhD students in HKHuman kinetics recently launched a new PhD program and the first cohort of students are beginning their research programs. From left are Kristy Smith, Matthieu Hoffman, Michelle Guerrero and Kelly Carr.

Community focused PhD program launched in HK

Human kinetics has a brand new community-based PhD program and the first cohort of students say they’re thrilled and honoured to be charting new territory for the university.

 “I think it’s an exciting opportunity to create a foundation for future students,” said Kelly Carr, one of the faculty’s four new doctoral students. “I think it’s going to be a learning process for everyone.”

Working with professors Patti Weir and Sean Horton, Carr will expand on the research she conducted for her master’s degree, which focused on older adults and their patterns of engagement in social, active and passive liesure activities. The concept of ‘engagement’ will continue in her doctoral research as she examines the effects of engaging in community-based exercise programs among adults with autism spectrum disorder.

A recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship doctoral award, the Windsor born-and-raised Carr is developing a questionnaire to measure the confidence and self-efficacy of people with disabilities who participate in physical fitness, as well as how they integrate into their community.

The other students in the program are:

Michelle Guerrero, who under the supervision of professor Krista Chandler, will further explore her research on how imagery can be used to encourage children to be more physically active. Originally from Alliston, Ontario, she earned her undergraduate degree at Laurentian University and her master’s degree here. Her research involved monitoring almost 60 Grade 6 students who were required to call in three times a week over a four week period and listen to short pre-recorded imagery-laden messages and found they helped increase their physical activity. Her PhD is funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Matthieu Hoffman, who under the supervision of professor Todd Loughead, will study the effects of peer-to-peer mentoring on elite athletes. Originally from Toronto, he earned his undergraduate degree at Laurentian University and his master’s degree here. His research involves asking varsity athletes who have peer mentors in their lives about what sort of behaviours they exhibit and whether they help improve their athletic performance. He’s also a recipient of the SSHRC Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award.

Kristy Smith, who under the supervision of professor Patti Weir, will study the relative age effect on female hockey players and their participation. Originally from LaSalle, she earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees here. Her research is based on the previously documented premise that young athletes born later in the calendar year often fall behind in their ability to perform at the same level as those born earlier. She says some of the patterns seen in research with boys are being documented with girls, with some slight variations, which she plans to investigate further. Her PhD is also funded by a SSHRC doctoral scholarship.

Dr. Weir, who is also the dean of graduate studies, said it’s an exciting time for her home department and the new crop of students is an exemplary one.

“All of these students are of remarkable character and are doing top-quality research,” she said. “I’m certain they’ll be excellent role models for other students considering pursuing doctoral degrees in human kinetics here.”

Human kinetics dean Michael Khan said launching the program was a long time coming, but that it’s a testament to its commitment to help students reach the highest possible level of education.

“We’re extremely proud of these students and it’s going to be a truly remarkable day when we get to see them walk across the stage and pick up their PhDs at their convocation ceremonies,” he said. “We’re certain they’ll go on to do great things in their careers.”

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