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Concordia’s Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology’s celebrates its first two doctoral graduates

Alex Jimenez-Garcia and Popi Kasvis reflect on their time in the new PhD program in Health and Exercise Science
May 12, 2023

Concordia’s new PhD program in Health and Exercise Science is welcoming its first graduates, Alex Jimenez-Garcia and Popi Kasvis.

“I offer them both my heartfelt congratulations,” says Veronique Pépin, chair of the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology (HKAP).

The PhD program has long been in the works, after receiving Senate approval in May 2016 and accepting its first cohort in fall 2019. It features an integrative approach to broad domains of health research, as evidenced by the very different research topics both students chose to focus on.

The graduates have published their research and presented at national and international programs, which speaks to the program’s immediate impact.

Promoting pediatric health

For Alex Jimenez-Garcia, the PhD program in Health and Exercise Science was a natural extension of his MSc in the HKAP department.

“My ongoing research at the Athletic Therapy Research Laboratory, my supervisor Richard DeMont, the staff and the research facilities were the most important factors that motivated me to continue my graduate studies at Concordia,” he explains.

Jimenez’s research focuses on pediatric health promotion, with the overall goal of promoting safe physical activity by considering affective, cognitive, physical and behavioural factors.

“My personal experience was outstanding,” he says. “Like any other PhD program, it was hard and stressful at times. However, the HKAP department did a great job by creating a comprehensive program and providing the tools necessary for success.”

Jimenez plans to start working as a postdoctoral associate in July.

‘Prehabilitation’ in pancreatic cancer patients

Popi Kasvis heard about the program when she was hired to coordinate a study being co-investigated by Robert Kilgour, professor of health, kinesiology and applied physiology. Realizing they shared research interests, she says she decided to wait for the program to open so she could work under Kilgour’s supervision.

Kasvis’s research focuses on the effects of ‘prehabilitation,’ including factors such as diet, exercise and stress-reduction in pre-operative pancreatic cancer patients.

“I very much enjoyed the classes I took,” says Kasvis. “I have also learned a lot from my peers in the program, who have come to Concordia from all over the world and are carrying out very different and fascinating research.”

Next up, she has designed a study examining the effects of prehabilitation in patients awaiting palliative chemotherapy at the McGill University Health Centre.

The future is looking bright for both inaugural graduates. “They are an excellent representation of our department and program,” says Pépin.

“I wish them the very best in their next endeavours.”

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Concordia’s Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology.

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