Challenging students to learn on their own

Corey Tomczak is driven by the twin passions of doing something new to benefit cardiac patients, and passing on his enthusiasm to his students.

"Universities often talk about having a balanced scholar teaching model or something that reflects an emphasis on teaching," he said. "But my experience (at the U of S) is that it is not only encouraged but supported. It's evaluated and taken seriously."

Tomczak joined the College of Kinesiology as an assistant professor in January, 2014. He completed his bachelor's degree in psychology and master's degree in exercise physiology at the University of Regina before moving to Edmonton to pursue his doctorate and complete a postdoctoral fellowship in rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta.

As a cardiovascular physiologist, Tomczak is interested in how the heart functions in healthy individuals, as well as what happens when things go awry. He explains it as a continuum­–from fully healthy, to conditions such as high blood pressure, to heart attack, enlarged heart, and ultimately heart transplant.

"I work with people with chronic health conditions, heart disease in particular, and individuals that develop something called heart failure, or an enlarged heart," he said, explaining such conditions aren't simply "fixed" with medical treatment alone; they are chronic conditions that require interventions from lifestyle and nutrition, to behavioural medicine, and exercise rehabilitation.

Tomczak is now setting up his research program and is encouraged by the strong health sciences capacity at the U of S and the integration with the Saskatoon Health Region. Of particular interest is the cardiac rehabilitation program, with which he hopes to collaborate and contribute. He is also getting ready for teaching the upcoming fall semester.

"The biggest thing I try to instil in my lectures is a desire or curiosity for the student that becomes internally driven," he said. "I hope to reach a stage for students where they get excited enough to be motivated to challenge themselves and learn on their own as much as they can. I try to show them how easily they can make it their own and how easy it is to get excited."

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