During my undergraduate studies in the faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary I became fascinated with understanding how the body adapts to regularly performed exercise. These initial learning experiences prompted me to pursue graduate studies in exercise physiology first at Arizona State University for the completion of my MSc and then at Ball State University where I received my doctorate in Human Bioenergetics.
After the completion of my PhD I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. John Holloszy’s laboratory at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. During this time my research was focused on examining the biochemical pathways activated by exercise that lead to 1) increases in skeletal muscle glucose uptake and 2) enhanced skeletal muscle mitochondrial content. Towards the end of my postdoctoral fellowship several papers were published demonstrating that commonly prescribed anti-diabetic medications such as rosiglitazone can increase mitochondrial content in adipose tissue. While effective in improving insulin action these compounds have many unwanted side effects. Since we have known for over 4 decades that exercise increases mitochondrial density in skeletal muscle, I wondered if exercise would have the same effect in other tissues such as adipose, and if so, what mechanisms could be mediate this effect.
In 2006, I began my first faculty position as the University of Alberta and investigated the effects of exercise and diet on adipose tissue function and metabolism, and in turn how these alterations, regulate skeletal muscle and whole body glucose homeostasis. Since 2010 I have held a tier II Canada Research Chair in Lipids, Metabolism and Health in the department of HHNS. My research continues to focus on how diet and exercise effect adipose tissue metabolism.