Now in its fourth academic year, the Human Kinetics program at UBC's Okanagan campus is expanding with four new faculty members to meet the needs of its rapidly growing student population.
Student numbers have increased steadily since the program's inception in 2007. The first class, which will graduate June 2011, began with 65 students. This year, more than 160 students were admitted into the first year of the program.
"When we first set out to develop a Human Kinetics program, the goal was to create a program that was firmly entrenched in the health sciences," says Gord Binsted, head of the Human Kinetics department. "Part of that is ensuring we have a qualified, diverse faculty with a wide range of expertise and research interests to guarantee our students have the opportunity to explore, in depth, all areas of the discipline."
The faculty team was strategically brought together to support and advance the undergraduate program's two main areas of specialization: exercise physiology and community health promotion. As well, the new faculty members were chosen for their ability to increase the Human Kinetics research portfolio and contribute to the unit's competitiveness for major grants.
The four new faculty members are:
- Mary Jung, who focuses on the self-regulation of health behaviours, including the promotion and adherence to physical activity and healthy diets, as well as smoking cessation. Jung is particularly interested in the concurrent management of health behaviours amongst other valued life goals, such as work and family. Other areas of interest include psychological processes involved in weight loss, body image, exercise identity, and cardiac rehabilitation.
- Cristina Caperchione, an exercise psychologist, who focuses strongly on health promotion of populations. Her research often addresses issues around community health and activity.
- Neil Eves, who is a respiratory physiologist. Eves specializes in integrative physiology of respiratory and cardiovascular systems during exercise in health and disease and how these systems can be manipulated to optimally alter disease progression and health status.
- Sally Willis-Stewart, who teaches health promotion and nutrition -- both general science of nutrition and healthy eating -- as well as applied nutrition in the areas of exercise and chronic disease prevention.
"Students will benefit from the diverse areas of specializations of new and current faculty," says Binsted, adding that the Human Kinetics program at UBC's Okanagan campus offers a number of unique advantages to students, partly because it was built from the ground up.
"Because of our size and structure, we can adjust more readily and modify our program very quickly to what's going on nationally in terms of trends or policy," he says. "On average, our students have smaller class sizes, increased opportunity for lab exposure and research exposure, more one-on-one time with instructors, and more community placement options than many other students at larger universities."
One of the challenges facing the program is the misconception among some people that Human Kinetics students are physical education teachers.
"Our students are being trained as health practitioners from the start of the program," he says. "We are working with the medical community, with community groups, individuals and with businesses, conducting innovative, applicable research within our communities with the goal of maintaining and improving the health of the people living within them."
-- 30 --