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Nipissing professor earns Canada Research Chair

Nipissing University researcher, Dr. Mark Bruner​ is working to discover the best ways to help youth develop, personally and socially, through sport and physical activity.

Dr. Bruner holds the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Youth Development through Sport and Physical Activity, announced recently by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology).  Nipissing University receives $100,000 per year for five years from the CRC to fund Dr. Bruner’s work.  As well, the university receives $45,225 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for infrastructure costs related to Dr. Bruner’s laboratory.

Roughly 75 percent of Canadian youth participate in organized sport, typically in a team setting, creating an excellent opportunity to engage youth and promote personal and social development. Dr. Bruner’s research examines how social processes in teams and exercise groups shape adolescents’ development and participation. In addition, he investigates how to apply this knowledge to promote youth development through involvement in sport and physical activity.

A key aspect of the research focusses on understanding how the identities youth form through their membership on sport teams – their social identities – shape the treatment of teammates and influence sport participation.

Dr. Bruner’s research will inform future strategies used by coaches and instructors to foster youth development and promote participation. As well, his research will provide valuable information for policy makers, and sport programmers about the optimal conditions for youth development in sport.

Dr. Bruner, an associate professor in Nipissing’s Bachelor of Physical and Health Education program, will work in the community, with numerous teams, and in the Psychology of Physical Activity and Health Promotion Lab in Nipissing’s new Centre for Physical and Health Education.  The lab supports emerging research on psychological aspects associated with physical activity and health behaviours. It includes a camera-equipped fitness studio, an interview room, and data analysis areas to examine and provide feedback on physical activity interventions, and health behaviour change techniques.

“Thank you to the CRC and CFI for this investment in my research,” said Dr. Bruner.  “Athletics is about much more than scoring goals and winning games.  This work is very important to me.  Participating in sports as a youth has definitely shaped the person I am today. As I got older, and involved in coaching, I realized how important sports are for youth to build confidence and establish their sense of self.  Thanks to this CRC and CFI, I hope to determine the best ways to help youth develop important personal and social skills through sport and physical activity.”

“We are grateful to the federal government for investing in Dr. Bruner and Nipissing University,” said Dr. Harley d’Entremont, provost and vice-president academic and research at Nipissing.  “Important investments such as these help the university to create new knowledge that benefits all Canadians. This will also provide a significant advantage for students to learn from and work with Dr. Bruner as he engages in his research.”

“The Federal Government is pleased to continue investing in Nipissing to further their physical health related research. Research and innovation is the bedrock of the strong economic growth of our 21st century economy,” said Jay Aspin, MP for Nipissing-Timiskaming. “I am pleased that Nipissing University is attracting its share of research investment.”

The Canada Research Chairs Program was created in 2000. Ongoing annual program expenditures of $265 million have helped attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers.

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