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Students make real-world connections at nutrition conference

Dr. David Ma pictured with five of his students

Students from the University of Guelph-Humber’s Kinesiology program, who recently listened to experts from Canada and abroad present the findings of their research on sports nutrition at a Canadian Nutrition Society conference, said the experience opened their eyes to opportunities they could pursue upon graduation.

Instructor Dr. David Ma and five students recently attended the Canadian Nutrition Society’s Toronto conference: “Advances in nutrition: from daily living to high-performance sport.”

The one-day event featured several well-known presenters who discussed topics such as nutrition and healing, low-carb, high-fat diets and strategies for building a successful sport nutrition practice.

Students Emily Barton, Hayley O’Donoghue, Erika Caldwell, Michael Silvestri and Elton Thompson said the seminar gave them a chance to hear the latest findings on dietary requirements pertaining to weight loss and muscle gain in athletes, as well as what athletes need to do to perform at a high-level.

The students had explored those topics in class, so hearing renowned experts validate the science behind the theory was rewarding, they said.

“A lot of us in this program aspire to work with professional athletes and the conference gave us a glimpse into that field,” Silvestri said. “We also got a lot of field knowledge from people who work with athletes including Olympic athletes.”

The conference gave students a first-hand peek into the world of research and innovation, explained Dr. Leslie Auger, Program Head of Kinesiology.

“At first, the students walk into the conferences feeling intimidated, but are soon able to hold their own,” Dr. Auger said. “Many of our fourth-year students take part in undergraduate research opportunities and learn about data collection, analysis and writing a research paper.

“The fact that some of our students publish before they graduate is very exciting,” she continued. “Attending conferences like these complements and connects textbook learning with current scientific developments happening in the field.”

Dr. Ma, who is the current President of the Canadian Nutrition Society, said the event showed his pupils real-world applications of some of the topics they discussed in class. The students can take the insights they learned at the conference to their future workplaces, he said.

“We have been running this opportunity for students for several years now as a way to introduce them to professional development and help them experience first-hand what it’s like to attend a national or international conference,” Dr. Ma said. “The Kinesiology program at the University of Guelph-Humber values the learning experiences of students.”

Caldwell, a second-year student, said she and her UofGH classmates could easily relate to the topics discussed and that was largely due to the Kinesiology program’s well-rounded teaching.

“To go in and hear the science and be able to relate that back to what we learned in the classroom was great,” she said.