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Adam Decker // Photo: Supplied

Curtain call for the class of 2020

October 14, 2020 — 

While earning his doctorate in Applied Health Sciences, Adam Decker had a front-row seat to the wonders of Cirque du Soleil, analyzing the physical and psychological characteristics of some of the fittest athletes and performers to ever grace the circus ring.

“There really isn’t a typical one,” said Decker of how he’d describe a run-of-the-mill Cirque performer.

“There’s so many different disciplines within circus. Think of football. There are multiple positions and each position is made up of unique individuals. Offensive linemen, for instance, don’t look like wide receivers. It’s the same for the various disciplines in Cirque.”

The variety of backgrounds and skill-sets within the internationally acclaimed troupe is what drew Decker, a UM Physical Education graduate, to pursue an opportunity to conduct research for his doctorate degree while working in a research role with Montreal-based outfit.

Along with his PhD advisor, Dr. Dean Kriellaars, Decker spent approximately five years with Cirque investigating methods and modalities to enhance performance. This included analyzing sleep, fitness and stress levels.

While this type of analysis has been commonplace within professional sports and business settings for years, Cirque was slow to the uptake until Decker came along.

“This is a multi-billion-dollar industry and it had spent virtually nothing on performance enhancing research,” said Decker. “We were able to come in and lay a foundation for research, and you’re now seeing other researchers in this field pop-up globally.”

Decker successfully defended his thesis in May (Longitudinal Assessment of Physical, Physiological and Psychological Characteristics of Elite Circus Student-Artists) and now is set to receive recognition as a graduate of UM’s class of 2020 at Fall Convocation Thursday, Oct. 22.

Joining Decker are five graduate studies students and eight undergraduate students, respectively.

“The world changed dramatically as these students made that final push to complete their last term as students,” said Dr. Douglas Brown, Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management.

“The University’s response to COVID-19 demanded they adapt almost every aspect of their life in an instant. Despite the uncertainties, they focused on the task at hand. They completed their courses and fulfilled the program requirements to graduate. It is difficult to express my admiration and gratitude for the resilience they demonstrated during this trying time. I am so proud of the class of 2020.”

Convocating Graduate Studies

Daryl Hurrie

Major: Applied Health Sciences
Thesis: Decrease in Body Temperature: Effects on MotorNervous System Function, Exercise Performance and Response to Active Heating
Advisor: Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht

Bree Langlais

Major: Kinesiology and Recreation
Thesis: Mino-pimatisiwin: The Stories of Mentorship
Advisor: Dr. jay johnson

Sophia Mbabaali

Major: Kinesiology and Recreation
Thesis: Exploring the Mental Health Experiences of Student-Athletes who have Sustained a Concussion
Advisor: Dr. Leisha Strachan

Matthew Asmundson

Major: Kinesiology and Recreation
Thesis: The Relationship Between the Isometric Mid-Thigh Pull & Countermovement Jump and On-Ice Sprint Performance in Hockey Players
Advisor: Dr. Stephen Cornish

Alexander Edye-Mazowita

Major: Kinesiology and Recreation
Thesis: A nonrandomized trial of a pre-operative physical activity program on bariatric surgery candidates as evaluated by pre- and post-operative physical activity- and obesity-related biomarkers
Advisor: Dr. Todd Duhamel

Convocating Undergraduate Students

Noah Becker, B.Kin-AT

Conor Dowdell, B.Kin.

Janelle Dueck, B.Kin.

Jasmine Ostir, B.Kin.

Ryann Bannerman, B.P.E.

Jennifer Grape, B.P.E.

Joshua Onyebuchi, B.P.E.

Yooshin Park, B.P.E.

Daniel Marino, B.R.M.C.D.

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