Health sciences a rapidly growing field. To meet this demand, our Ph.D. in Health Sciences program targets specific areas of health sciences including kinesiology, social work, nursing, nurse anesthesia and communication sciences and disorders. The program prepares individuals for careers in research, academia and industry.
Second-year Ph.D. student Caleb Voskuil has always loved exercise and sports. He works in Assistant Professor Dr. Joshua Carr‘s neuromuscular physiology laboratory and studies ways to improve the rehabilitation experience after an orthopedic injury with resistance training.
Voskuil’s dissertation focus is on how people transfer strength to the injured limb during unilateral resistance training, or weightlifting, with one limb. He examines the neural and muscular adaptations that occur as an injured person rebuilds muscle fitness during recovery without risking reinjury.
With a randomized controlled design, his dissertation will examine the cross-education rehabilitation paradigm with individuals undergoing Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Through his dissertation, he aims to strengthen the evidence for using cross-education in traditional rehabilitation programming.
“Caleb’s past and ongoing efforts place him on a trajectory to become a significant authority in the realm of resistance training,” remarks Carr. “With his research being showcased and published in renowned national and international journals and conferences, he has garnered the attention and respect of prominent scholars.”
His recent publication in “Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism” was an international collaboration that resulted in a novel review regarding the most optimal way to prescribe cross-education training.
Carr explained Voskuil’s expanding network of established researchers further shows his potential to influence the field of Kinesiology. “I believe his contributions will play a crucial role in shaping the landscape of health science, particularly in relation to resistance training and exercise.”
Voskuil sat down for an exclusive interview ready to delve into the inspirations and research he is currently conducting.
I am just a big sports and fitness fan, which led me to pursue this career. I am fascinated by the human body, the greatest and most complex thing on earth. At the intersection of these things is kinesiology and it makes what I do so enjoyable.
Why are you pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Sciences?
I love the academic atmosphere, where we can perform research aimed at helping others and inspiring the next generation of practitioners through teaching and mentorship. There are so few careers that allow us to push a field of knowledge forward while simultaneously disseminating knowledge to help those who are excited to apply this information to improve the lives of others.
What do you hope to achieve through your research?
The ultimate goals of my research are to examine the neural and muscular adaptations that occur following strength training and how these adaptations can aid rehabilitation and performance. Strength is commonly thought of as a sport- or gym-specific skill, but it allows us to move and perform any physical task such as walking up a flight of stairs or carrying groceries. Understanding the true nature of strength will optimize rehabilitation and training, empowering others to be the best they can be.
What motivates you?
My motivations lie in duality, as I am intrinsically and extrinsically motivated. I am passionate about bettering myself in every way possible while making the lives of the individuals around me better in any way I can. Life is a blessing, and we have such a limited time here to take advantage of this fact. To truly appreciate life, we must take the time to be the best that we can be, refining our God-given abilities and using them to bless those around us.
How are you trying to shape the future?
I am actively trying to shape the future through two distinct avenues: producing research aimed at improving rehabilitation and overall performance through strength training; additionally, the opportunity to be in a classroom and directly guide those who are the next generation provides an unmeasurable impact on the future of kinesiology.
The Future of Physical Therapy
By reducing the atrophy that occurs during orthopedic immobilization, Voskuil hopes his research leads to individuals spending less time rebuilding their strength to pre-injury levels once they are medically cleared to train the injured limb.
Reaching the maximum possible threshold at a faster rate will allow physical therapists to focus more time on other pressing concerns of the injury or allow an individual to be cleared more quickly and get back to their normal life.
Voskuil was the first-place winner at the college-level Three-Minute Thesis Competition and received second place as well as the People’s Choice Award at the university-level Three-Minute Thesis Competition.