Brock prof honoured for motivation research

For more than two decades, Kinesiology Professor Philip Wilson has sought answers to the simple yet vexing question of why people exercise.

For his accomplishments, he was awarded the 2018 Research Excellence Award from the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences during Monday’s afternoon Convocation ceremony, and delivered the address to the graduands.

“Professor Wilson has an international research reputation as an expert in motivational processes that underpin behaviour, combined with expertise in measurement and evaluation,” said Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Associate Dean Nota Klentrou. “This renders him an exemplar of a successful research scientist with a thriving career at Brock University.”

His expertise includes motivation to exercise, psychology of physical activity, instrument development and evaluation, and physical activity assessment in healthy and clinical populations.

During his Convocation address, Wilson said that “decades of motivation research tells us that challenge — when interpreted correctly — can be beneficial.”

The challenge he referred to was the goal of inspiring grads as they embark on their career and life journeys.

“It may seem odd, on a day when we are gathered to celebrate student academic successes and my accomplishments as a researcher, but I decided to share a story about the greatest failure in my own life,” Wilson said. “This is because in life we often have choices to make where failure is a possible outcome.

The professor said his failure was his goal of becoming a professional soccer player.

“My failure turned out to be the best option for a life enriched with so many amazing twists and turns,” he said.

Wilson encouraged graduates to embrace the opportunity to stare failure in the face by finding new ways to conquer personal and professional challenges.

“When you are faced with those pivotal moments along life’s journey, those times when you are unsure, tested to take a leap of faith or even questioning your own potential, I encourage you to remember the initials of the institution which today becomes your alma mater: BU,” he said. “Be you and that is all you will need to ‘push on.’”­

Also recognized Monday was Health Sciences Assistant Professor Paula Gardner, who was honoured as the recipient of the 2018 Teaching Excellence Award from the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences for her innovative teaching practices.

Health Sciences Assistant Professor Paula Gardner talks to students after the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Convocation ceremony.

Gardner is well known for her research on mindfulness and meditation and how they build compassion and improve relationships, which are critical skills for anyone in the health professions.

“Mindfulness means being aware and paying attention to the present moment,” said Gardner. “It also improves learning, facilitates positive emotions and reduces anxiety.”

While mindfulness is a practice with implications that extend far beyond the walls of the classroom, Gardner and her students use this and other contemplative practices including meditation, reflective writing and non-judgmental listening while in class.

“Collectively we practice present moment awareness to fully immerse ourselves in the course material — a process that serves to enrich not only our own learning, but also that of others,” she said.

In addition to the recognition for Wilson and Gardner, also receiving awards Monday were graduates Scott Donia (Kinesiology), Tonyclinton Nweke (Medical Sciences), Sanda Jackson (Recreation and Leisure Studies) and Matthew McGarr (Medical Sciences).

Nweke and Donia were the undergraduate and graduate recipients, respectively, of the Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock medals.

Jackson and McGarr were the recipients of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean’s Medals for having the highest academic standing for a pass degree (Jackson) and honours degree (McGarr).

Mary De Sousa, from Brock’s Board of Trustees, presents the Spirit of Brock Medal to Scott Alexander Donia (Master of Science, Kinesiology) and Tonyclinton Chisom Nweke (Bachelor of Science, Medical Sciences).

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