Student researcher in running for NSERC finals

Having a mere 60 seconds to explain complex research in simplistic terms can prove challenging for even the most seasoned researcher.

But Brock grad student Angel Phanthanourak was not only up to the task, but unafraid to make the most of her one-minute window.

She produced a video, Fear of Falls, that has now propelled her into the Top 25 of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Science, Action! Competition.

Phanthanourak’s video is one of 25 from across the country now under review by a panel of judges working to determine the contest’s finalists.

Winners of the 15 available cash prizes, including a top prize of $3,500, will be announced Wednesday, April 5.

Phanthanourak, a Master of Science in Applied Health Sciences student in the Department of Kinesiology, used her video to explore how anxiety and a fear of falling influences the way people move their bodies. If they stiffen up or have poor postural strategies, it may increase the likelihood of falling during voluntary movements.

Phanthanourak’s entry, along with three others submitted by Brock students, made it into the contest’s Top 40. The top 25 videos with the most views on YouTube then advanced to the final round.

“I am so grateful to all my friends and family that watched and shared the video online — making the final 25 would not have been possible without them,” she said.

“A special thank you goes out to my amazing lab mates and supervisor (Craig Tokuno) for all their encouragement and support, and to my wonderful grandma for being a great sport and agreeing to star in the video.”

Phanthanourak first became interested in anticipatory postural adjustments after learning that movements made to prevent a loss of balance become less efficient with aging.

As her grandparents aged, she observed how debilitating elevated levels of anxiety related to the fear of falling can be.

“By demonstrating the role psychological factors play in reducing the efficiency of postural control, I hope to aid in the development of interventions meant to reduce feelings of anxiety and encourage older adults to engage in activities,” Phanthanourak said.

The top 25 videos can be viewed on the Science, Action! website.

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