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Eric Hedge, an MSc student graduating in Kinesiology this fall, has received a 2020 Alumni Gold Medal for academic excellence. The Office of Alumni Affairs recognizes top graduating students with this prize; only two in the fall (a Master’s and a doctoral), and only one Master’s student annually.
For his thesis, Hedge worked with supervisor Richard Hughson, using smart technology to predict a person’s metabolic response to exercise. He used a diverse set of methods ranging from cardiopulmonary exercise testing to machine learning to create an original study aimed at non-intrusively assessing physical fitness across various exercise intensities.
“I use vital sign information that is easy to collect with wearable sensors,” says Hedge. “If you wear a shirt that has a few sensors on it, it will not affect your daily activities. We wanted to develop a way to boil these complex sensor data down into something understandable that provides actionable information about health and fitness.”
Hedge also made other academic contributions as a Master’s student, including being first author on two manuscripts and co-author on four – an unusually high number for a Master’s student who only started in September 2018. He has also won numerous awards, including a highly competitive Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship and a Provost Graduate Scholarship.
Hedge will be continuing his academic career with a PhD in Kinesiology at Waterloo. He received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship to test his model for fitness and health tracking in older adults who experience accelerated aging-type changes while confined to bed for two weeks. His professors consider him to be rigorous with data collection, analysis and interpretation, and able to explain difficult concepts in a clear and concise manner.
“I have been very fortunate in my 43 years as a faculty member to have trained many outstanding students, including PhD students who have gone on to become Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, Dean of Science, and faculty members across the country,” Hughson wrote when nominating Hedge. “Eric Hedge truly stands with the best of these.”
Hedge credits Hughson for having an open-door policy and helping him succeed. “You can just pop in and ask him a few questions and he’ll get right to what you need to figure out. Rich kept giving me more and more opportunities to work on different projects, and our relationship has just grown from there.”
The ten carat, solid gold medal is embossed with the University of Waterloo crest on the front and the student’s name and Faculty on the back. Hedge will be awarded the 2020 Alumni Gold Medal at fall convocation.