A Quick Study with Carey Simpson

This ongoing series is aimed at getting to know what motivates and inspires UBC students about their learning — inside and outside the classroom.

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Carey Simpson

On getting more involved, Kelowna sunshine, the adrenaline rush in research, and advice for healthy living.

Meet Carey Simpson, Health and Exercise Sciences, UBC Okanagan.


Why UBC?

CS: UBC has always represented an exceptionally prestigious institution that has global impact and appeal. I originally wanted to pursue medicine so UBC was the only choice in my mind, not only for their amazing medical program but for the breadth and depth of information that students garnered from the professors and hands-on experience that UBC offers. I chose UBC Okanagan because I am from a small town and I loved the idea of a smaller campus with a close-knit program. Now that I have transitioned into research, my choice is repeatedly validated as I encounter brilliant students and profs that are like me in their passion for research. Plus Kelowna is amazing.


You are in the midst of completing your M.Sc. and your thesis is looking at the effect of stretching on muscle growth and the nervous system. How did you end up focusing on this subject?

CS: My undergraduate degree was in Human Kinetics and in that field, stretching is a sexy new topic. There is extensive research on cardiovascular and strength training, but stretching is just starting to emerge both in the literature and in application.

An article from a body building website was brought to my attention early on in my Master’s which stated that if you stretched a muscle, it would grow. Well, technically they said it would “unleash monstrous growth” and that article cited some research done in animals in the 1970s. The idea was good, but the article had some pretty sweeping statements that I thought warranted some further investigation. Plus my undergraduate research project was in stretching, so this was an easy continuation of that.


If you could go back in time, what would your graduate self tell your undergraduate self?

Carey SimpsonCS: Get more involved. I was a head down, do your work sort of student in my undergrad, and that cost me a lot of opportunities to get involved with the school, other students, and give back to the university. Also, take every chance you can to network. Meet people, go to conferences, attend seminars and talks on campus, meet and greet and schmooze! There were so many learning opportunities that I missed because I was so focused on my courses.


What are your favourite hangouts on campus?

CS: UBC-O has some amazing spots to be outside. If I can be outside in the Kelowna sunshine I am so happy. There is a trail up behind UBC-O where a lot of students run/walk, but if you go off the trail a little there is this gorgeous hill that overlooks a farmer’s field, and it is covered in wildflowers this time of year. There’s not usually anyone else there and it is a great place to chill, chat and relax. There and Starbucks. But I feel like Starbucks is every grad student’s favourite hangout.


What has to happen for you to lose yourself in your work?

CS: I fully recognize how nerdy this statement is, but when I get on a roll with research, where I’m reading papers and one is explaining the next and the next and there is this incredible linking of information in my mind which eventually leads to answers within my own studies, I get a tiny adrenaline rush! When that is happening, time flies!


What is on your playlist these days?

CS: My iPod is so embarrassing. I teach spin and run so I have a lot of spin playlists that are usually some combination of super high intensity rock, some 80’s rock thrown in, some electronic stuff...it’s a smorgasbord. Then there is the casual fun stuff that includes country, oldies, pop, etc. What’s on my playlist? A little of everything, and it’s playing all the time!


What discovery has most surprised you in your research?

CS: How willing people are to participate in research if they are excited and interested in the topic.

Carey SimpsonI have a pretty intense nerve stimulation protocol as part of my work, and people will dive right in, even knowing that it might hurt. People love to learn about themselves and the way their body works, and because of that, they will volunteer over and over again.


As someone who has studied human kinetics, what would be your top advice you would give people about their health?

Carey Simpson
Carey Simpson
Carey Simpson

CS: Stop striving for perfection and focus on your health. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. It really boils down to eat well, sleep, drink water, and exercise. If you want to be healthy, you have to live healthy and there is no short cut around that. Make a goal and stick to it. If you can’t do it on your own, there are incredibly talented people out there (like Human Kinetics graduates!) that can help!


What does your dream job look like?

CS: Research and development. If I could work somewhere like Nike as part of a team that develops new fitness related products, presents the idea to investors, creates the product and then gets to try it out on the athletes that will be using it...that would be the dream.

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