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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
December 5, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Professor Pam Bryden and Martin Musalek
Professor Pam Bryden and Martin Musalek

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Kinesiology & Physical Education

Kinesiology and Physical Education graduate program grows, attracts international students

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Jan 5/11

When Martin Musalek, a PhD student at Charles University in Prague, attended a kinesiology conference in Toronto last year, he had no idea that the location of his conference poster would play such an important role in the success of his trip.

But Musalek's poster turned out to be next to that of Professor Pam Bryden, from Laurier’s Kinesiology and Physical Education department, and after talking with his neighbour he realized she was an expert in his area of study. In fact, he already knew her work.

“We had a long chat,” Bryden said. “Later on in the year he contacted me and said he had to do an internship as part of his program, and could he come to Laurier. I said ‘sure.’”

Laurier's graduate program in Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) was founded in 2006, with an entering class of only six students. But the program, a two-year MSc., has grown quickly. Currently it has 30 students, 18 of whom entered this academic year, not including several part-time students. And the graduate faculty has recently been attracting more and more visiting international students like Musalek.

“There has been interest from a variety of countries in our program,” said Professor Mark Eys, the KPE graduate program co-ordinator. “I think it’s a very positive sign of what people are doing here and of the visibility of the program.”

There are currently three international graduate students working with faculty at KPE. Svenja Wolf, a PhD student from the German Sport University in Cologne, is studying the pre-competitive emotional states of athletes as a visiting researcher working under Eys.

Frederico Faria, from Brazil, is doing a full PhD at Laurier, working with KPE’s Professor Quincy Almeida under the joint supervision of Professor Jeffery A. Jones in the Department of Psychology. A recipient of Brazil’s prestigious CNPq scholarship, he is studying Parkinson’s disease and its effect on movement.

Musalek, whose PhD is in physical education and sport, is focusing on measuring and studying people’s preference for using their right or left hand and right or left foot for different tasks, like writing or kicking a soccer ball, and how that relates to the organization of the brain. Bryden has done extensive research on the subject.

“The academic culture here is very collaborative,” Musalek said. “I’ve been able to better understand a lot of things that were not clear for me in the past. It’s helped me to better interpret my data.”

Since Musalek’s arrival at Laurier in early October, he has sat in on Bryden’s graduate motor control and statistics courses, presented his research to Laurier graduate students, visited labs on campus, consulted with Laurier faculty regarding the design of his statistical models, and attended a conference with Bryden in Ottawa. Bryden will also work with him on journal publications based on his PhD research.

“It’s certainly been a great experience for me to have Martin here, and I think it’s beneficial for the university community to have these students among us,” said Bryden. “It’s very helpful when you’re working with somebody who was trained under a completely different model, with different resources and different ways of thinking.”

With Bryden’s help, Musalek has been meeting with senior Laurier officials and Laurier International staff about the possibility of formal exchanges between the two universities. Musalek will subsequently be meeting with officials at Charles University when he returns to Prague at the end of his internship later this month.

In continuous operation for over 660 years, Charles is one of Europe's oldest universities and one of the top-ranked universities in central and Eastern Europe. An international internship is a standard requirement for students in the university's physical education and sport PhD program.

Musalek says he’s grateful for that. “The support from Dr. Bryden and everyone else here was just amazing,” he said. “I would like others to have the same opportunity."


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