Kinesiology and psychology student Alex Engel is used to working hard. As he works to complete two degrees at ULethbridge, Alex was working hard this summer assisting Dr. Paige Pope with her current research, Move More, Sit Less. This study examines the effectiveness of messaging that encourages older adults to be more active and limit their sitting time.
More specifically, we are interested how these messages influence the amount of time spent sitting, as well as motives, quality of life, vitality and fear of falling.
Alex keeps everything on track by handling the day-to-day operations of the project, which involves meeting with participants and being their point of contact at every stage of the study. His duties, much like his degrees, are duel-natured, as he is both a research assistant and a project coordinator to keep things running smoothly.
What attracted you to this research?
At first, I was just attracted to research in general. I came to the university with no clue of what I wanted to get out of it. All I knew was I was attracted to the field of kinesiology as I come from a heavy background in sport and exercise. As I worked through my first two years at ULethbridge, I became more and more interested in sports and exercise psychology. I took a class with Dr. Pope in the first semester of my third year, which opened my eyes to the field of research. I then applied for the Chinook Summer Research Award and was humbled when I received notice of my successful application. This is my first job in the field I am interested in and I have loved every moment of it.
Has this experience been valuable to your education and/or degree?
This experience has been more valuable to my education than any class I could possibly take. Yes, it was a number of classes that narrowed down my interest, but I have already learned more through this experience than I ever expected. Something that is not always taught in classes is what a job entails and what doing the work would look like. The experience that this award has allowed me to absorb has given me a taste of research and academia and leaves me excited for the future.
What do you enjoy most about conducting research at ULethbridge?
What I enjoy most about research at ULethbridge is the community atmosphere in which research is conducted. Research supervisors like Dr. Pope provide a genuine interest in helping students interested in research to learn more and succeed while moving forward.
What skills and/or experiences will you be taking from your research project into the future?
Obviously, I will take the knowledge I have gained about research and academia with me in the future, but this experience has led me to the decision to pursue a master’s degree following my undergrad. I am also thinking about the possibility of a PhD later on, but I don't want to get too ahead of myself.
Alex’s passion and drive shine within his research, which will no doubt go on to help adapt messaging for seniors to help increase mobility and aid in a better quality of life. Reflecting on what he has learned, Alex shares valuable advice to others just starting in the research field of their study.
Three things. First–ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question, you don't know what you don't know, and clarifying never hurts. Second–find a field you care about and look for any opportunity in it. You will learn more about yourself and your interests this way. Third–think ahead. The main thing about the research I have learned is you always have to be thinking five steps ahead and plan for it. Sure, things don't always go according to plan, but without one you will get lost easily.
Alex will continue his work in this field, making great strides in the research surrounding sports and exercise. Please join us in celebrating Alex’s achievements and wishing him the best in his future endeavours. We all cannot wait to see what amazing things he will accomplish!
Apply for an Undergraduate Student Research Award
Deadline: Jan 31, 2023 at 4 p.m.