Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Our Fitness, Aging and Stress Lab at UBC is currently actively engaged in several different laboratory and community studies. In the laboratory, we are examining the impact of different lengths and intensities of exercise on biological and psychological responses to acute stressors. We are also examining the flip side of this - how chronic and acute stress impact biological and psychological responses to acute bouts of exercise.
In our lab, we are also recruiting 10 year old children to study the associations between physical literacy and activity with social and emotional development, and biological 'omic' profiles, including metabolomic, proteomic, and microbiomic profiles.
Finally, our lab is also analyzing data from large nationally representative studies, such as Health and Retirement Study and the Midlife in The United States Study, examining longterm impacts of socioeconomic disadvantage and chronic stressors on physical activity engagement and disease.
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
ADVICE AND INSIGHTS FROM UBC FACULTY ON REACHING OUT TO SUPERVISORS
These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision
Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
Educators working in early childhood education and care receive little to no training in physical activity or physical literacy. However, they are expected to adhere to government standards for physical activity and skill development during the childcare day. This dissertation sought to determine what characterizes a successful intervention aiming to train educators in physical activity and/or physical literacy, what barriers and facilitators educators identify in meeting daily activity standards, what the physical literacy of educators is, and if educator physical literacy is associated with their behaviours and intentions to provide physical activity or physical literacy activities regularly. A systematic review was undertaken to parse apart the distinct characteristics of effective training interventions in physical activity or physical literacy. Training programs that provided ongoing support, relied on a theoretical framework, and objectively measured study fidelity were more successful. Educators were interviewed (n=24) to assess facilitators and barriers they face when implementing policy mandated activity standards. Results demonstrated that the personal values of educators facilitated adherence, and if physical space was poor, or resources were low, adherence was inhibited. Finally, a cross-sectional study measured the physical literacy of educators (n=94), and utilized regression analysis to determine relationships between measured physical literacy and self-reported behaviours and intentions to provide physical activity and/or physical literacy opportunities daily. Physical activity behaviour and understanding were high, but the remaining components of physical literacy were moderate. A relationship was found between educator self-reported intentions and behaviours for providing physical activity opportunities and the physical literacy component of understanding, but no relationship was found for the other components of physical literacy. The results of these three studies demonstrate that educators are trainable in physical activity and physical literacy, but high-quality training programs that provide continued support and/or training for educators are needed. Training programs may not need to focus on the personal physical literacy of educators. Mandating training for educators to provide quality physical literacy opportunities to children should be a high public health priority.
Master's Student Supervision
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Physical activity and exposure to nature have each been recognized for their positive effects on health and wellbeing. When taken in tandem, outdoor exercise is proposed to have additive benefits compared to exercising indoors or being inactive outdoors. Previous reviews of green exercise have reported inconclusive findings due to a paucity of high-quality evidence. The present review sought to summarize the body of literature that compares physiological and perceptual differences of a single bout of exercise in outdoor spaces versus indoor spaces.Following the PRISMA reporting guidelines for systematic reviews, a search was conducted in nine databases for any articles published before November 2019. When studies and outcomes were methodologically uniform, quantitative analyses was completed. Vote counting and harvest plots were used to synthesize the remaining outcomes. Quality of articles was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment Tool.The findings of 24 articles (Total N = 757) were examined. Summarized outcomes include objective exercise intensity, perceived exertion, performance, neuroendocrine responses, cardiovascular responses, thermoregulation, enjoyment, intention for future exercise and perceptions of the environment. Meta-analysis was conducted for mean heart rate, perceived exertion, mean speed, time to completion, enjoyment, and future intention for exercise. Significant effects of the environment were detected for meta-analyses of perceived exertion (g = -0.84, 95% CI = [-1.60, -0.09], p = 0.03) and enjoyment (g = 1.24, 95% CI = [0.59, 1.89], p
While the body’s stress system plays an adaptive role in helping humans respond to challenging and threatening stimuli, frequent or prolonged exposure to difficult stressors can detriment both physical and psychological health, and lead to the eventual development of chronic diseases. Though chronic activation of the stress system damages health, physical activity can mitigate the psychological and physiological stress response in daily life, benefiting long term health. While research has examined the effects of fitness level and frequent physical activity on various features of the human stress response, little is known regarding the effect of a single bout of aerobic activity on the physiological reactivity to an acute stressor (i.e. the increasing response over time), and the recovery, or return, back to baseline. The current study thus investigated two research questions: (1) whether the effects of exercise on the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis response (i.e. reactivity and recovery) to an acute stressor depends on the intensity at which a bout of exercise is performed, and (2) whether associations exist between the HPA-axis outcomes of exercising at various intensities and the cortisol responses to a subsequent psychosocial stressor, delineating a biological mechanism of the stress-buffering effects of exercise. These questions were addressed by constructing mixed-effects models, with between person and within person effects, in which eighty-three 18- to 30-year-old men were randomized to exercise at either 30%, 50% or 70% of their heart rate reserve and then underwent a psychosocial stress task. ANCOVA and Multilevel Growth Curve Analysis determined that more intense exercise elicited dampened cortisol responses to the stress task, marked by lower total cortisol levels, diminished cortisol reactivity and faster recovery to baseline values, as compared to less intense exercise. Moreover, exercise itself elicited a cortisol response proportional to the intensity at which it was performed, and this exercise-associated HPA-axis response was inversely proportional to the cortisol response to the subsequent stress task. This study concluded that exercise-intensity dampens the HPA-axis stress response in a dose dependent manner with mounting evidence that the cortisol released from exercising intensely helps to suppress the subsequent cortisol response to a stressor.
Background: Nearly one-quarter of Canadians report high levels of daily stress. This is alarming as chronic stress has been associated with several co-morbidities and premature mortality. In order to create beneficial interventions and public policy, factors associated with stress must be identified. While a wealth of research has determined a myriad of correlates of stress, the majority of this work has used approaches that focus on a very limited number of correlates per study, often from within one field of study. Currently there are no studies that analyze large-scale data sets and test multiple variables simultaneously.Methods: This study analyzed data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey - Mental Health, including 67 factors from a range of disciplines and over 23,000 participants. This study uses two approaches to test the associations between these factors and chronic stress including traditional statistics (i.e., simple linear regression and multiple linear regression) and machine learning algorithms (i.e., random forest analysis). Results: The simple linear regression analysis showed that negative social interaction, life satisfaction, and higher levels of insomnia have the largest effect size in their association with chronic stress. Random forest analyses found that, after accounting for variance from other factors and considering complex interactions, life satisfaction, negative social interactions, and age were the most important correlates of chronic stress.Conclusion: This study highlights that the important correlates of stress do not come from one field, but rather are a combination of psychological, social, and demographic factors. These novel findings highlight potential target pathways for devising new stress reduction interventions. However, as this study was exploratory and correlational, more research is needed regarding direction of effect and potential confounding variables.
The potential mechanisms driving the optimal, healthy physical and psychological development of children have been studied extensively (Janssen et al., 2010; Milteer, Ginsburg, & Mulligan, 2012; Parfitt & Eston, 2005). Specific movement behaviours, including physical activity, sedentary time, and sleep have been studied independently to examine their influence on health outcomes. Emotional well-being, which encompasses a variety of psychological concepts including optimism, general self-concept, satisfaction with life, and sadness, is considered an important element in the healthy development of children (Guerra & Bradshaw, 2008). This study examined the extent to which four objectively-measured movement behaviours – light physical activity (LPA), moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), sedentary time, and sleep – are associated with emotional well-being in a sample of grades four and five children (N = 21). This study had three objectives: 1) to examine independent associations between the four separate movement behaviours and emotional well-being, 2) to examine the relationship between one movement behaviour and emotional well-being relative to time spent in other movement behaviours using compositional analysis, and 3) to examine whether time spent in sedentary screen activities versus non-screen sedentary activities moderated the relationship between objectively-measured sedentary time and emotional well-being. For objective 1, among the independent Spearman correlations, only MVPA was significantly and positively correlated with emotional well-being (ρ = 0.77, p
- Continuous-Time Modeling of the Bidirectional Relationship Between Incidental Affect and Physical Activity (2022)
Annals of Behavioral Medicine,
- COVID-19 Pandemic and Exercise (COPE) trial: a multigroup pragmatic randomised controlled trial examining effects of app-based at-home exercise programs on depressive symptoms (2022)
British Journal of Sports Medicine, , bjsports--2021--104379
- Effects of Chronic Burden Across Multiple Domains and Experiences of Daily Stressors on Negative Affect (2022)
Annals of Behavioral Medicine,
- Exploring occupations and well-being before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in adults with and without inflammatory arthritis (2022)
Journal of Occupational Science,
- Implementing active play standards: a qualitative study with licensed childcare providers in British Columbia, Canada (2022)
Health Promotion International,
- Physiological markers of traffic-related stress during active travel (2022)
Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 84, 223-238
- Analysis of dynamic psychological processes to understand and promote physical activity behaviour using intensive longitudinal methods: a primer (2021)
Health Psychology Review,
- Early childhood education and care: Do we need to develop the physical literacy of educators? (2021)
PROSPECTS, 50 (1-2), 55--68
- Effects of Aerobic Exercise Training on Daily Psychological Processes in Family Caregivers: Secondary Analyses of a Randomized Controlled Trial (2021)
- Efficacy of exercise combined with standard treatment for depression compared to standard treatment alone: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2021)
Journal of Affective Disorders, 295, 1494--1511
- Move more, move better: A narrative review of wearable technologies and their application to precision health. (2021)
- Online-Delivered Group and Personal Exercise Programs to Support Low Active Older Adults’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Randomized Controlled Trial (2021)
Journal of Medical Internet Research,
- Online-Delivered Group and Personal Exercise Programs to Support Low Active Older Adults’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Randomized Controlled Trial (Preprint) (2021)
- Psychological mediators of exercise adherence among older adults in a group-based randomized trial. (2021)
- The COvid-19 Pandemic and Exercise (COPE) Trial: A multi-group randomized controlled trial comparing effects of an app-based, at-home exercise program to waitlist control on depressive symptoms (2021)
- The Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Psychological Functioning in Family Caregivers: Secondary Analyses of a Randomized Controlled Trial (2021)
Annals of Behavioral Medicine,
- The effects of exercise intensity on the cortisol response to a subsequent acute psychosocial stressor (2021)
- The long shadow of childhood trauma for depression in midlife: Examining daily psychological stress processes as a persistent risk pathway (2021)
- A data-driven prospective study of dementia among older adults in the United States (2020)
- Advancing Research on Psychosocial Stress and Aging with the Health and Retirement Study: Looking Back to Launch the Field Forward (2020)
The Journals of Gerontology: Series B,
- Chronic psychosocial and financial burden accelerates 5-year telomere shortening: findings from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (2020)
Molecular Psychiatry, 25 (5), 1141--1153
- Effects of Group-Based Exercise on Flourishing and Stigma Consciousness among Older Adults: Findings from a Randomised Controlled Trial (2020)
Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 12 (2), 559-583
- Health psychology in the time of COVID-19. (2020)
Health Psychology, 39 (12), 1021-1025
- Predicting mortality from 57 economic, behavioral, social, and psychological factors (2020)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (28), 16273--16282
- Racial Discrimination and Telomere Shortening Among African Americans: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study (2020)
- The effects of aerobic training on subclinical negative affect: A randomized controlled trial (2020)
Health Psychology, 39 (4), 255-264
- Application of an ecological momentary assessment protocol in a workplace intervention: Assessing compliance, criterion validity, and reactivity (2019)
Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 16 (11), 985-992
- Cumulative lifetime stress exposure and leukocyte telomere length attrition: The unique role of stressor duration and exposure timing (2019)
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 104, 210--218
- Leveraging Omics Profiling to Advance the Treatment of Pediatric Obesity (2019)
JAMA Pediatrics, 173 (10), 910-911
- Stress resilience: Narrative identity may buffer the longitudinal effects of chronic caregiving stress on mental health and telomere shortening (2019)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 77, 101--109
- A Mitochondrial Health Index Sensitive to Mood and Caregiving Stress (2018)
Biological Psychiatry, 84 (1), 9-17
- Aerobic exercise lengthens telomeres and reduces stress in family caregivers: A randomized controlled trial - Curt Richter Award Paper 2018 (2018)
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, 245--252
- Associations between cellular aging markers and metabolic syndrome: Findings from the cardia study (2018)
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 103 (1), 148-157
- Associations between chronic caregiving stress and T cell markers implicated in immunosenescence (2018)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 73, 546--549
- Comfort Eating and All-Cause Mortality in the US Health and Retirement Study (2018)
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 25 (4), 473-478
- Depression, telomeres and mitochondrial DNA: Between- and within-person associations from a 10-year longitudinal study (2018)
Molecular Psychiatry, 23 (4), 850-857
- Effects of daily maladaptive coping on nightly sleep in mothers (2018)
Psychology and Health, 33 (1), 144-157
- Group-based physical activity for older adults (GOAL) randomized controlled trial: Exercise adherence outcomes (2018)
Health Psychology, 37 (5), 451-461
- In vitro proinflammatory gene expression predicts in vivo telomere shortening: A preliminary study (2018)
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 96, 179-187
- More than a feeling: A unified view of stress measurement for population science (2018)
Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 49, 146-169
- Physical inactivity and mental health in late adolescence (2018)
JAMA Psychiatry, 75 (6), 543-544
- A null mutation in SERPINE1 protects against biological aging in humans (2017)
Science Advances, 3 (11)
- Associations between childhood adversity and daily suppression and avoidance in response to stress in adulthood: can neurobiological sensitivity help explain this relationship? (2017)
Anxiety, Stress and Coping, 30 (2), 163-175
- Chronic stress is associated with reduced circulating hematopoietic progenitor cell number: A maternal caregiving model (2017)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 59, 245-252
- Gravidity is not associated with telomere length in a biracial cohort of middle-aged women: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study (2017)
PLoS ONE, 12 (10)
- Physical activity and negative affective reactivity in daily life. (2017)
Health Psychology, 36 (12), 1186--1194
- Sexual intimacy in couples is associated with longer telomere length (2017)
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 81, 46-51
- Trait Acceptance Predicts Fewer Daily Negative Emotions Through Less Stressor-Related Rumination (2017)
Emotion, 17 (8), 1181-1186
- A Longitudinal Relationship between Depressive Symptoms and Development of Metabolic Syndrome: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (2016)
Psychosomatic Medicine, 78 (7), 867-873
- Exercise mitigates cumulative associations between stress and BMI in girls age 10 to 19 (2016)
Health Psychology, 35 (2), 191-194
- Lifespan adversity and later adulthood telomere length in the nationally representative US Health and Retirement Study (2016)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (42)
- Meditation and vacation effects have an impact on disease-associated molecular phenotypes (2016)
Translational psychiatry, 6 (8), e880
- Predictors of HIV testing among men who have sex with men: A focus on men living outside major urban centres in Canada (2016)
AIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 28 (6), 705-711
- Systematic and Cell Type-Specific Telomere Length Changes in Subsets of Lymphocytes (2016)
Journal of Immunology Research, 2016
- Determinants of telomere attrition over 1 year in healthy older women: Stress and health behaviors matter (2015)
Molecular Psychiatry, 20 (4), 529-535
- Putting the brakes on the "drive to eat": Pilot effects of naltrexone and reward-based eating on food cravings among obese women (2015)
Eating Behaviors, 19, 53-56
- The Association of early and recent psychosocial life stress with leukocyte telomere length (2015)
Psychosomatic Medicine, 77 (8), 882-891
- Anger Is Associated with Increased IL-6 Stress Reactivity in Women, But Only Among Those Low in Social Support (2014)
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21 (6), 936-945
- Chronic stress increases vulnerability to diet-related abdominal fat, oxidative stress, and metabolic risk (2014)
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 46, 14-22
- Poor sleep quality potentiates stress-induced cytokine reactivity in postmenopausal women with high visceral abdominal adiposity (2014)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 35, 155-162
- Relationship between perceived discrimination and sedentary behavior in adults (2014)
American Journal of Health Behavior, 38 (5), 641-649
- Chronic psychological stress and racial disparities in body mass index change between Black and White girls aged 10-19 (2013)
Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 45 (1), 3-12
- Dysregulated relationship of inflammation and oxidative stress in major depression (2013)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 31, 143-152
- Indirect effect of financial strain on daily cortisol output through daily negative to positive affect index in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (2013)
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38 (12), 2883-2889
- Multisystem resiliency moderates the major depression-Telomere length association: Findings from the Heart and Soul Study (2013)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 33, 65-73
- Race, life course socioeconomic position, racial discrimination, depressive symptoms and self-rated health (2013)
Social Science and Medicine, 97, 7-14
- Stress and telomere biology: A lifespan perspective (2013)
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38 (9), 1835-1842
- Wandering minds and aging cells (2013)
Clinical Psychological Science, 1 (1), 75-83
- An Intricate Dance: Life Experience, Multisystem Resiliency, and Rate of Telomere Decline Throughout the Lifespan (2012)
Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6 (11), 807-825
- Does cellular aging relate to patterns of allostasis?. An examination of basal and stress reactive HPA axis activity and telomere length. (2012)
Physiology and Behavior, 106 (1), 40-45
- Financial strain and impaired fasting glucose: The moderating role of physical activity in the coronary artery risk development in young adults study (2012)
Psychosomatic Medicine, 74 (2), 187-192
- Leptin concentrations in response to acute stress predict subsequent intake of comfort foods (2012)
Physiology and Behavior, 107 (1), 34-39
- Maintenance of a positive outlook during acute stress protects against pro-inflammatory reactivity and future depressive symptoms (2012)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26 (2), 346-352
- Stress appraisals and cellular aging: A key role for anticipatory threat in the relationship between psychological stress and telomere length (2012)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26 (4), 573-579
- Cumulative inflammatory load is associated with short leukocyte telomere length in the health, aging and body composition study (2011)
PLoS ONE, 6 (5)
- Daily cognitive appraisals, daily affect, and long-term depressive symptoms: The role of self-esteem and self-concept clarity in the stress process (2011)
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37 (2), 255-268
- Is Self-Disclosure in Couples Coping With Cancer Associated With Improvement in Depressive Symptoms? (2011)
Health Psychology, 30 (6), 753-762
- Multiwave associations between depressive symptoms and endothelial function in adolescent and young adult females (2011)
Psychosomatic Medicine, 73 (6), 456-461
- Physical activity moderates effects of stressor-induced rumination on cortisol reactivity (2011)
Psychosomatic Medicine, 73 (7), 604-611
- Physical fitness and telomere length in patients with coronary heart disease: Findings from the heart and soul study (2011)
PLoS ONE, 6 (11)
- Relationship satisfaction in couples confronted with colorectal cancer: The interplay of past and current spousal support (2011)
Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34 (4), 288-297
- Shorter leukocyte telomere length in midlife women with poor sleep quality (2011)
Journal of Aging Research, 2011
- Dynamics of telomerase activity in response to acute psychological stress (2010)
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 24 (4), 531-539
- Protecting us from ourselves: Social support as a buffer of trait and state rumination (2010)
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29 (7), 797-820
- Spousal Support and Dyadic Coping in Times of Stress (2010)
Support Processes in Intimate Relationships,
- The power of exercise: Buffering the effect of chronic stress on telomere length (2010)
PLoS ONE, 5 (5)
- Coping and health behaviours in times of global health crises: Lessons from SARS and West Nile (2009)
Global Public Health, 4 (1), 69-81
- Spouse depression and disease course among persons with rheumatoid arthritis (2009)
Arthritis Care and Research, 61 (8), 1011-1017
- The role of empathic responding (2009)
European Psychologist, 14 (1), 18-28
- Coping Skills (2007)
Encyclopedia of Stress, , 578-584