Co-op student gets faculty mentorship opportunity

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Donna Fok in a laboratory.

By Naz Kittani

On her very first work term, 2A Kinesiology co-op student Donna Fok combined her two passions: science and athletics. Fok worked as a research assistant for Applied Health Sciences Professor Jack Callaghan. Also cross-listed with the Faculty of Engineering, Callaghan is a Canada Research Chair in spine biomechanics and injury prevention. With expertise in biomechanics, ergonomics and injury mechanics, Callghan’s supervision helped Fok build a strong foundation for future work terms.

“As a Research Assistant (RA), I supported the graduate theses and studies occurring in Professor Jack Callaghan’s Spine Biomechanics Lab,” explains Fok. “When experiments began, my role included outfitting the participant, collecting data and performing data analysis to determine descriptive findings on lower back discomfort and muscle activation.”

Although assisting with experiments was a major perk of her work term, it was the opportunity to learn in the workplace that Fok valued the most. “Working in research places a major emphasis on learning, which in my opinion was the best aspect of this position. While I was doing my job as an RA, I was encouraged to learn about biomechanics and procedures within the field. I learned by shadowing other graduate students, reading published literature on the topics, or simply by inquiring and participating in studies,” says Fok.

Fok credits this role for helping her choose a career path. “This experience has directed me toward wanting an occupation that focuses on the mechanics of human muscles and bones,” she says. “One field of interest is forensics biomechanics; I’m fascinated by the role of biomechanics in determining the cause of injury and impact.”

To find out more about Professor Callaghan’s research, watch his graduate student research video.