Exercise Sciences Research and Teachers Days

01 December 2017

The Department of Exercise Sciences has had a bumper four weeks, hosting both their annual Research Day and the inaugural Teachers Day in late October and mid-November.

Department of Exercise Sciences Research Day 2017 - academic staff and postgraduate students
Department of Exercise Sciences Research Day 2017 - academic staff and postgraduate students

Professional Teaching Fellow Paul Nolan, who worked on the Research Day with Dr Stacey Reading and other staff, says the purpose of the event is two-fold.

“First, we want to give students an opportunity to talk about the research they have been doing or are planning to do [in the case of our first year postgraduate students],” he says.

“Second, we want them to communicate their research to clients from our Health and Performance clinic, many of whom may have been research participants.”

This year, 30 postgraduate students created posters on topics ranging from ‘Does aerobic exercise make you smarter?’ and ‘Which leg provides more postural stability – your dominant or non-dominant leg?’ to ‘Energy buffering in the brain during oxygen deprivation’ and ‘Osteoarthritis: Strength and mobility for joint stability' and 'What type of exercise is appropriate for individuals with osteoarthritis?’

The biggest challenge for the students is translating what is reasonably complex scientific data into a visual format. They are provided with information on how to go about creating a poster but, even so, they can really struggle with this aspect of the assignment.

“Their supervisors will often see multiple drafts before the posters are submitted for printing and their most frequent advice is to cut down the number of words on their poster,” says Paul.

The end result is worth it as the up-and-coming academics find they are getting a real taste of what a large scientific conference is all about.

“I think students are often unaware that making posters, and talking with other presenters and attendees is an integral part of the scientific field and is what many of their lecturers and professors do on a regular basis,” Paul says.

“So it was delightful to see how much students enjoyed talking about their research. They have a genuine passion for their work and this showed in the care they put into crafting the poster and how they presented themselves on the day.”

In the laboratory with teachers from Exercise Sciences Teachers Day 2017

The inaugural Teachers Day was also a big success with most of the of 34 attendees wishing the half-day session could be extended to a full day.

During a tour of the laboratories and clinics, the department’s brightest minds talked to careers advisors, physical education and science teachers about their latest research, imparting fascinating new information and fielding some interesting questions about their work.

Business operations manager Michael Groom says keeping to schedule was one of the challenges staff faced. “Our visiting teachers had so many questions, we could have spent much longer on the tours.”

The late morning presentations about different subject options the department offers left teachers much surer of the advice they would be able to give their students regarding Exercise Sciences as a career path.

They also appreciated listening to passionate academic advocates such as Dr Nick Gant, Dr Angus McMorland and Associate Professor Jim Stinear, amongst many others. Feedback included comments such as: “I didn’t even know these types of facilities and research existed” and “I think I learnt more today than I did in my degree”.

The department is already planning to host another Teachers Day in 2018. “Next time we’ll extend it to a full school day, have fewer presentations, a longer tour and more focus on ideas and examples that teachers can take back to their classrooms,” Michael says.

Head of Department Associate Professor Greg Anson says he is appreciative of the support from the Faculty of Science’s Communications and Marketing team and Exercise Sciences staff and postgraduate students.

“We’re excited at the prospect of showing teachers our new facilities in Newmarket next year,” he adds.