Olivia Roussel, SURF 2023

Human Kinetics (Clinical Exercise Physiology)

Supervisor:  DR. Brian Dalton

Investigating the final common pathway of all movement, the “motor unit”,  the motor nerves and muscle fibres they innervate. 


Awards and Scholarships

  • NSERC USRA 2022
  • University of Guelph, Pari Basrur Research Prize
  • Dean’s Honours List 2019-2023
  • Academic All-Star 2019-2023
  • Academic All-Canadian 2019-2023
  • University of Guelph Entrance Scholarship
  • Athletics First Team All Start 2021, 2022
  • Athletics Second Team All-Canadian 2021, 2022
  • Athletics She’s Got Game Scholarship 2019-2020

“My name is Olivia Roussel and I grew up in Toronto, Ontario. I recently graduated from the University of Guelph with an Honours BSc in Biomedical Sciences.

As a track athlete combined with a passion for physiology and fitness, my future goals include creating and developing partnerships in the wearable technology sector to investigate strategies to improve the limits of human physiology. By using wearable technology, I intend to monitor and assess biomarkers in the field to enhance performance. Knowing the limits of elite athlete physiology will help our understanding of how our physiology adapts to acute (e.g., fatigue) and chronic (e.g., training) stressors to enhance overall function.

My SURF project this summer aims to investigate the final common pathway of all movement, the “motor unit” – the motor nerves and muscle fibres they innervate. My goal is to collect preliminary data from young females and males of all activity levels and, potentially, elite masters athletes to determine the effect of exercise on motor unit function. It is well known that muscle mass and strength often decrease with adult aging, injury, inactivity and certain disease processes, which results in reduced neuromuscular function. It is essential to gain insight the quantity of motor units in individuals to assess functional age and/or disease progression. My project will involve collecting motor unit activity with indwelling electromyography (EMG) to assess the quantity and quality of motor units.

This project is important because it will highlight strategies and lifestyles that may mitigate the loss of motor units, typically observed with adult aging. Through my research, I wish to contribute to the improvement of overall muscle health and function in individuals by promoting active lifestyles and emphasizing the importance of exercise throughout one’s lifetime.”

To the Stober Foundation

“I would like to thank the Stober Foundation for providing me with the opportunity to travel across the country and participate in ground-breaking research all while being able to explore the outdoors. The skills that I will learn will aid me in furthering my career in the health sciences as well as will contribute greatly to my professional development.”