KPE undergraduate conference grows in size, scope and impact

Keynote Speaker Parissa Safai, Kerstin Giannini, Aaron Thomas, Mahdiya M. Hameer, John-Peter Bonello and Vice Dean Peter Donnelly

For some, it was a first-time experience. For more seasoned pros, the 18th Annual Bertha Rosenstadt National Undergraduate Research Conference was yet another opportunity to hone their research presentation skills. But for all undergraduates it was an exciting opportunity to participate in a conference that continues to grow in size, scope and impact.

Hosted on March 31 in the Athletic Centre, the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education welcomed 120 participants and featured 91 student presentations – making this year’s conference the largest to date.

There were 55 student presentations from other universities, including Brock, Queen’s, York, Memorial, McMaster, Lakehead, McGill and Western. The Faculty also welcomed participants from the University of British Columbia, making the conference a coast-to-coast event.

Students presented on topics including exercise and chronic disease, muscle physiology, assessment, supplementation, sport and exercise psychology and psychosocial health. They also networked with fellow students and learned about the importance of breaking down research silos from keynote speaker Dr. Parissa Safai from York University.

A few students shared their impressions about the conference and their plans for the future:

Tate Newmarch

Tate Newmarch
Faculty Advisor: Professor Douglas Richards


“Our long-term objective is to evaluate the extent to which an individual’s bone orientation affects the risk of injury – we want to know if certain people are pre-disposed to certain injuries. The first step in this research is figuring out whether we can measure bone orientation accurately and reliably in the clinic. We’re using EOS, which is a medical imaging system that has low X-ray doses.


This conference was a great experience because I met people from other schools and it’s good to network and see new research. In the future, I plan on going to medical school.”

Shikha Patel

Shikha Patel
Faculty Advisor: Professor Tim Welsh


“I studied how we empathize with cartoon characters. Previous studies have looked at how human beings imitate one another or animals, but I was interested in whether we relate to and have the ability to imitate cartoon characters.


Today I was nervous before my presentation, but as soon as I started I was really comfortable. I eventually want to go into rehabilitation or motor control research.”

Alexandra Rocha

Alexandra Rocha
Faculty Advisor: Professor Daniel Moore


“We’re trying to determine adequate protein requirement for active children. With a Western diet children generally get sufficient protein, but we’re using a new method to more accurately measure what levels of protein active kids might need to supplement for optimal growth and performance.


Seeing the effort and depth of research being conducted by others today makes me excited for the future of research. In the future, I’m interested in pursuing medicine and I’m also interested in research. I’d love to make an impact on society with a study that could improve peoples’ quality of life.”

Shashi Sharma

Shashi Sharma (middle, with Professor Margaret MacNeill and Cass Tinline-Goodfellow)
Faculty Advisor: Professor Margaret MacNeill


“I worked with Cass Tinline-Goodfellow, Jevaun La Pera-Reid and Professor MacNeill to study how to create awareness about depression in South Asian immigrants and how physical activity could combat this. We created a PSA on YouTube, and we hope to educate people.


Today was great – I’ve seen other conferences before, but this was the first time I’ve presented. I’m interested in pursuing a career in global and health policy and I’m also looking into health-related fields.”


This year’s winners:

Muscle stress response following three different contraction types
Student Researcher: John-Peter Bonello 
Faculty Advisor: Marius Locke
University of Toronto

A critical analysis of sport for development and women’s reproductive health initiatives
Student Researcher: Mikaela Lowe
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Simon Darnell
University of Toronto

Investigating the relationship between extraversion and corticospinal excitability
Student Researcher: Mahdiya M. Hameer
Co-Investigators: Jenin El-Sayes, Hunter J. Fassett and Christelle B. Ah Sen
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Aimee Nelson
McMaster University

Alterations in the muscle stem cell niche with aging
Student Researcher: Aaron Thomas
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Gianni Parise
McMaster University

Thank you to this year’s organizers:

Zarine Ahmed
Kerstin Giannini
Sophie Harding
Josie Lalonde 
Darryl McSherry
David Ridge
Ashley Stirling
Alex Vickers
Anne Zavaros