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Coming full circle

Jennifer Tomasone has a special passion for Queen’s University.

She completed two undergraduate and a master’s degree here, and returned to Queen’s in 2015 as an assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (SKHS) after completing doctoral and post-doctoral work at McMaster University. During undergrad she was a dancer and head choreographer for the Vogue Charity Fashion Show, a member of Queen’s Dance Team, and was involved with the Winter Adapted Games.

Not only that, she met her husband during Orientation Week.

Jennifer Tomasone completed two undergraduate degrees and a master's degree at Queen's University and now has returned as a professor. (Sam Shepherd Photography)

“We started out as friends and have been inseparable ever since our third year,” she says. “During undergrad, we were told many times that ‘Queen’s grads marry Queen’s grads’” she says. “We did an Oil Thigh flash mob at our wedding reception last summer, followed by our phys-ed year dance!”

Dr. Tomasone completed her Bachelor of Physical and Health Education and Bachelor of Science from SKHS in 2007. Following graduation she applied to be part of the second cohort to complete a Masters of Science in Anatomical Sciences from what was then called the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. 

“I knew I loved anatomy, and had always loved teaching dance, so this Master's seemed like a perfect stepping stone,” she says. “The program was heavily focused on honing teaching skills, and I soon came to realize my passion for teaching in an academic setting.”

Dr. Tomasone ventured back to the SKHS where she had the opportunity to coordinate the Revved Up adapted exercise program for Dr. Amy Latimer-Cheung. Revved Up provides individuals with mobility impairments and intellectual disabilities a supervised exercise setting. Student volunteers assist and motivate clients with their twice weekly workouts. It was with Revved Up that she developed an interest for promoting physical activity for persons with disabilities, and for educating the next generation of health care professionals. After a year at Revved Up, Dr. Tomasone was hired as the research associate for Dr. Robert Ross in SKHS, who received a multi-million dollar Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant for a large-scale randomized controlled trial examining the dose-response relationship of exercise among individuals who were pre-diabetic.

“Through these work experiences, I saw the benefits that physical activity has for people of all abilities, and I wanted to develop my research and knowledge translation skills to be able to make a greater impact on the physical activity experiences of persons with disabilities,” she says. “Dr. Amy Latimer-Cheung introduced me to her former PhD supervisor, Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis at McMaster University, whose research was directly in line with my interests, so I ventured away from Queen’s to Mac for my PhD. But for the record, I never purchased any McMaster paraphernalia and proudly wore my Tricolour in Hamilton!”

Her PhD dissertation in Exercise Psychology examined how behavioural theories can inform the development, implementation and evaluation of real-world interventions that increase physical activity in the physical disability community in Canada. She worked collaborative with community-based organizations like SCI Ontario and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Through her doctoral studies, she became fascinated with the influence that effective knowledge translation methods can have on the impact of physical activity interventions, which led her to pursue a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Knowledge Translation. She credits working with Dr. Melissa Brouwers at McMaster University who supported her in developing skills in clinical practice guideline development and implementation, which in turn helped shape her research program she’s taken up at Queen’s since returning in 2015

“Having experienced the culture of McMaster University and University of Toronto where I was a sessional instructor in the fall of 2014, I can say that the spirit that Queen’s students have is truly unique,” she says. “What has not changed over the years – the passion, drive and spirit that Queen’s students bring to campus. Their energy and high standards for themselves, not only in academics but in extracurricular activities as well, is refreshing and challenges us faculty to be the best we can be for them.

 “I have many fond memories of dancing during time outs and half times at varsity basketball games in the PEC, and of performing on the stage at Grant Hall. It’s really exciting to think I’ll soon get to be back on the Grant Hall stage as a professor watching my graduate students get their degrees.”

Dr. Tomasone is also part of the Alumni Mentor program offered through the School of Graduate Studies where alumni provide support and advice to graduate students as they transition from studies to career.

You can connect with her through the Ask an Alum portal

The School of Graduate Studies is looking to create a network of 175 Graduate Alumni Mentors as it celebrates the 175th anniversary of Queen's University. To sign up, go to queensu.ca/alumni/volunteer and find "Career Mentor & Resource Person for Graduate Students."