Summer in Squamish

This summer, I spent three of the four months we have off at Quest living in Squamish—actually, I was still living on campus. I was lucky enough to receive a spot in the Quest Summer Fellowship Program—sponsored opportunities for students to complete their own research at Quest. 

View from campus in June.
View from campus in June.

Each year, the Summer Fellowship committee selects five students out of the applicants to be a Summer Fellow; the students are selected based on the research proposals they submit to the committee as well as recommendation letters submitted by at least two faculty members at Quest. Each student also has to have a faculty member supporting them throughout the project (typically their mentor). Being selected means that a student gets free housing on campus during the fellowship, a designated work space to complete their project, a stipend, and an opportunity to work an on-campus job. Students also have the opportunity to be supported by Woodfibre LNG, Ltd. as long as their project directly relates to LNG and its impact on the Squamish area. 

This summer, I completed my fellowship alongside five other fellows (one of whom was supported by LNG) with projects ranging from a journalistic exploration of the history of Howe Sound to an exploration of an unexplained phenomenon in computational algebra. 

My fellowship was supported by two different faculty hosts—Meaghan MacNutt and I-Chant Chiang—because my project encompassed both exercise physiology (Meaghan’s field) and psychology (I-Chant’s field). For my fellowship, I explored the question “Exploring mind-body connections: can “power poses” impact athletic performance?”. Now, this isn’t my Quest question (that’s “How can we push our limits?”); this was my research question, encompassing a much narrower field that allows me to still address my bigger question. I decided to use the Summer Fellowship to complete the research for my Keystone project, but that isn’t a requirement for the Summer Fellowships.

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The contracted pose.
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The expansive pose.

For my project, I was examining power poses—you may have heard of them in a TED talk by Amy Cuddy from 2012—and their impact on athletic performance. Power poses first became popular from two studies that found that expansive (e.g. superwoman) poses could raise testosterone,
decrease cortisol, make people feel more powerful, and improve performance in mock job interviews compared to contracted poses. However, since those studies there has been some controversy due to replication studies that did not find these same results. Part of our goal was to try to replicate the original hormone findings (using very similar techniques to the original studies) and the other part was to see how these poses could impact athletic performance. To achieve the latter, we had participants complete six different physical tests—reaction time, balance, dart throwing accuracy, vertical jump height, hand strength, and leg endurance—after completing the poses.

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View from the top of the Chief in July.

While I did a lot of the prep work to the design the study last Spring, I still spent the first month of my fellowship finalizing the study details and making sure everything I needed for testing was ready. The next two months were spent actually conducting the research. While I am still working on analyzing the data, being able to enter my fourth year having completed the research for my Keystone is a huge relief.

The Summer Fellowship program is an amazing opportunity for Quest students to design, complete, and analyze their own research that most undergrads don’t get. This was an amazing experience for me and has made me much more confident in my ability to do research during graduate programs. In addition, it gave me the chance to live in Squamish during the summer. The previous two summers I had gone home to New Mexico, so living in Squamish for the summer was pretty amazing for me. In my spare time I was able to go on hikes, explore tons of lakes in the area, and get to know Squamish better. Spending the summer alternating between research that I absolutely love and adventuring off campus was the best possible way to spend my last summer at Quest!

The Squamish River in July.
The Squamish River in July.

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