Sofia Ivanchikov, SURF 2023

Human Kinetics (Clinical Exercise Physiology)

Supervisor:  DR. Neil eves

Investigating the functional and structural adaptations in previously exercise naive individuals in response to long term endurance exercise training


Awards and Scholarships

  • University of Alberta – President’s Centenary Entrance Citation, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • The Faculty Club / Dr Wm A (Bill) Preshing Scholarship, 2021
  • The India Community Prize, 2021
  • A Louise McKinney Post-Secondary Scholarship, 2021
  • Kin Canada Hal Rogers Endowment Fund, 2020


  • First Responder, 2022
  • CPR Emergency Basic Life Support (HCP), 2022

“My name is Sofia and although I like to spend as much time as I can in BC, I am from Edmonton, AB, where I have just completed my third year of kinesiology at the University of Alberta. As a former high-performance rhythmic gymnast, I was always curious about the  mechanisms responsible for athleticism and my kinesiology degree has expanded my knowledge and curiosity tremendously. As I finish my degree, I am looking to use my skills and knowledge to build a career as an exercise physiologist, working alongside athletes.

This summer, I am investigating the functional and structural adaptations in previously exercise naive individuals in response to long term endurance exercise training. For any given individual, the level of cardiorespiratory fitness they have is governed by their ability to transport oxygen from atmospheric air into the mitochondria of the working tissue. The process through which this takes place is commonly known as the oxygen cascade as oxygen is transported throughout the body through a sequential reduction in partial pressures of oxygen. In most steps of the oxygen cascade a physiological reserve is maintained which can be utilized when internal or external stressors are placed on the body.

When there is a sustained increase in oxygen demand, such as during submaximal exercise, the body adapts by increasing its capacity to restore these reserves, specifically by increasing maximal oxygen uptake. However, extensive training may push certain systems like the heart, lungs, blood, and skeletal muscles to their structural and functional limits. This can result in a potential loss of reserve and limited improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness. While there are many cross sectional studies that have explored changes in the oxygen cascade, there is currently no longitudinal studies on how reserves change at each step of the oxygen cascade over a year of intense endurance training in previously exercise naive individuals.

Additionally, by considering the known differences in structure, function, and adaptability between males and females in each step of the O2 cascade, our study will also emphasize the investigation of how physiological reserve changes in females compared to males during 12 months of endurance training. Due to the time constraints of this award, I will be actively involved in the baseline testing of the longitudinal study allowing me to focus on examining the currently unknown biological sex differences in the reserves of each system of the oxygen cascade in sedentary individuals. By conducting this project, we will enhance our understanding of the variations in physiological reserve that exist between females and males. This understanding is crucial for comprehending any sex-differences that may exist in the response to internal changes  like diseases and external factors like exercise.”

To the Stober Foundation

“I would like to thank the Stober Foundation for providing me with the funding that has allowed me to pursue this invaluable opportunity to work alongside and build connections with the amazing team here in Kelowna. I believe that opportunities such as this that allow for applied and creative thinking are amongst the most valuable for undergraduate students such as myself to supplement the knowledge obtained from a degree in kinesiology. It is only because of the generous donation of the Foundation that I have been able to pursue this interest of mine and be immersed in the world of exercise physiology testing this summer.”