University of the Fraser Valley

Research Excellence 2024: Gillian Hatfield studies focus on community health

Research Excellence 2024: Gillian Hatfield studies focus on community health

Dr. Gillian Hatfield is UFV’s 2024 Research Excellence Award winner.

Dr. Gillian Hatfield has been at UFV since 2016 and has seen many amazing researchers win UFV’s Research Excellence award. She never imagined she’d be in the same group as those “heavy hitters.”

But here she is, part of that group.

“I’ve been on the award committee that judges these awards and I know the exceptional quality of the research that’s going on at UFV,” Hatfield says. “I have a lot of respect for the people who’ve won it before. They’re people I admire, and I get a little teary-eyed when I think about being recognized as being on that level.”

Hatfield, currently director of the School of Kinesiology, focuses her research on community health. Over the past five years she has studied the effects of knee osteoarthritis in older adults, looked at the impact of physical activity in post-partem women, and investigated the positive benefits of exercise on physical and mental health.

Over that time, Hatfield has 11 peer-reviewed publications with two more under review and six in progress. She was invited to speak at the North American Congress on Biomechanics in Ottawa in 2022, and a major fitness industry event in Los Angeles in 2023.

Colleague Michael Gaetz, a former winner of this award, nominated Hatfield. He says her contributions extend well beyond her own work, noting that she chairs the UFV Research Advisory Council, the Human Research Ethics Board, and the UFV Animal Care Committee (which includes the welfare of animals in research at UFV).

“She’s also a member of the Senate Research Committee, and the School of Kinesiology Undergraduate Research Excellence Award Review Committee,” Gaetz writes in his nomination letter. “Suffice to say, research would look very different at UFV without Dr. Hatfield’s involvement.”

“Her dedication to UFV’s vision is evident in how she produces high-quality research that positively impacts our local community and provides students with real world transferable research skills. Gillian’s high-level research-oriented service impacts UFV and make this a great place to do research. We are very fortunate to have her here at UFV.”

Hatfield takes equal pride in mentoring student researchers. Katrina Frankenberger won the Dean’s Faculty of Health Sciences award for her poster at Student Research Day (2022), and she also won the Undergraduate Research Excellence Award (2022). Anna Janzen recently finished her undergraduate thesis with a research paper on the effects of Pickleball participation in older adults. She says Hatfield’s guidance was “nothing short of exceptional.”

“Dr. Hatfield’s mentorship has motivated me to pursue accomplishments well beyond my dreams,” Janzen wrote in her letter of support. “I am proud and honoured to be on the receiving end of her outstanding support and invaluable time. Her genuine commitment to expand the breadth of knowledge through research is inspiring.”

Hatfield says research can be a lonely thing where you feel like you’re plugging away unnoticed. Being recognized by colleagues, students, and the university makes her feel special and seen.

“It’s nice to know that people have noticed all the work I’ve been doing,” she says with a smile.