I study the neurophysiology of cognitive processes. My research focuses on eye movements and how they interact with cognitive and executive functions. For example, I explore how features are integrated across multiple brain areas to form object representations, how attention and object representations drive eye movements, and how the visual system prioritizes peripersonal space. I am also interested in the networks in the brain that perform all these processes and how they can be impaired due to concussion and subconcussive impacts.Learn More
Department: Human Health and Nutritional Sciences
I conduct research in two areas:
1) Impact of teaching strategies on student learning and engagement in large classes: My goal is to modify and scale best teaching practices to suit large class sizes (100-600+ students). I evaluate the impact of these strategies on student learning and engagement. I am also interested in novel methods for teaching critical thinking and communication skills in health sciences education.
2) Health and performance of emerging adults in the early transition to university: I aim to better understand student experience to develop programs and strategies to optimize student performance. I study how lifestyle choices, social environments, and study strategies can influence student wellbeing and academic success.
In terms of teaching and learning, my primary areas of expertise are:
1) Curriculum design according to the new University of Guelph learning outcomes
2) Community-engaged, project-based learning
3) Creativity as a key learning outcome for student career development
In terms of knowledge transfer, my primary areas of expertise are:
1) Incorporating functional food and nutraceutical concepts into the design and practice of Lifestyle Medicine
2) Promoting studies of human anatomy as a foundation for the teaching and learning of Lifestyle Medicine in the general public
Dr. Spriet's basic research examines how skeletal muscle generates the large amounts of energy needed to exercise and compete in work and sport situations. The pathways that metabolize carbohydrate and lipid as fuel to produce energy are studied in human skeletal muscle. His practical research examines whether compounds that are purported to be "ergogenic" or work enhancing agents actually augment muscle metabolism and/or improve human performance (e.g. blood doping, creatine, carnitine, pyruvate, taurine, caffeine and omega-3 fatty acids). He also conducts hydration/sweat testing and research aimed at counteracting the effects of dehydration in athletes engaging in stop-and-go sports like ice hockey, basketball, and soccer.Learn More
My current research blends my research backgrounds in biomechanics and visuomotor control to examine how postural control is integrated and coordinated with voluntary movement (e.g. reaching, stepping, whole-body reaching). I am interested in developing an understanding of balance and movement both from a fundamental level, and in application to the immense problem of impaired mobility and falls in older adults and other clinical populations (e.g. stroke).Learn More
My main research focus centres around the issue of how contracting skeletal muscle can communicate with blood vessels in order to ensure adequate blood flow to the working skeletal muscle cells. There is a direct relationship between skeletal muscle metabolic rate and blood flow. This type of relationship requires that active skeletal muscle cells communicate their need for blood flow to the cells of the vasculature, endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells, and that these cells alter their function in order to ensure the proper blood flow delivery. I am interested in this intercellular communication.Learn More
I am interested in understanding the physiological roles and regulation of adipose tissue and skeletal muscle-derived cytokines in mediating metabolic processes in the body. I am particularly interested in the mechanisms by which dietary factors and/or exercise modulate various cytokines and inflammatory mediators implicated in insulin resistance, a key characteristic of obesity and type 2 diabetes. My current research projects are:
1) Regulation of adipose tissue-derived cytokines in integrative metabolism.
2) Effect of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in the presence and absence of LPS on adipocyte secretory factors and underlying mechanisms.
3) Effect of dietary fatty acids on pro-inflammatory markers in an in vitro murine adipocyte macrophage co-culture model.
My lab conducts research on several areas related to cardio-respiratory physiology and pathophysiology. For example, we are studying: 1) how the heart initially adapts to hypertension before the development of contractile dysfunction and heart failure; 2) skeletal and cardiomyocyte cell signalling during normal and hypoxic conditions; 3) proteomic alterations that occur in limb muscles during exercise; 4) key post-translational modifications of myofilament proteins that arise during the development of whole muscle dysfunction as a result of fatigue or ischemia; and, 5) dyastolic dysfunction in various physiological and pathological states, such as aging, sex differences, and models of heart failure.Learn More
To date, my research program has focused on strategies used to execute safe movement during adapted locomotor tasks (steering, obstacle circumvention, obstacle stepping) and the role of vision in these tasks. I am also interested in exploring the impact of cognitive or brain function on locomotor control. Given the commonness of dual tasking in our daily living, I hope to map patterns of cognitive-locomotor interference for multiple adapted locomotor (e.g. obstacle circumvention) and cognitive activities (e.g. visuo-spatial cognitive tasks) and ascertain optimal training strategies for dual-task performance.Learn More
Since changes in how the body metabolizes glucose are a hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, understanding how the function and metabolism of adipose tissue are regulated will be crucial for understanding diabetes itself. My students and I look at how exercise and nutritional interventions affect gene expression in adipose tissue, and, in turn, how these changes can affect both adipose tissue metabolism and whole-body glucose metabolism. One of the applications of my research is to potentially develop new, non-drug-based approaches that can be used to prevent and/or reverse Type 2 diabetes.Learn More
My students and I aim to understand the mechanistic role(s) of microbial-host intestinal communication. In particular, we focus on how microbial-derived metabolites (from dietary precursors) can influence the integrity of the colonic epithelial barrier (EB), as well as its capacity for defense and repair. The importance of this research lies on not only advancing basic knowledge on the effect of microbial metabolites on gastrointestinal functions, but also on informing the agri-food sector the ways in which the intake of nutrients, biomolecules, and dietary precursors can shape human health.Learn More
My background is in molecular and cell biology of lipid metabolism. Currently, my students and I work on the regulation of membrane phospholipids, fatty acids, and methyl-group donors. More specifically, we look at regulation of genes involved in choline transport and phospholipid metabolism; nutrient transporters and kinetics of membrane transport; molecular and cell biology of lipids; the effect of nutrients on protein synthesis and gene expression; and, nutritional genomics (nutrigenomics) of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.Learn More
The primary goals of my research program are 1) to understand where posture is controlled 2) to understand what sensory information contributes to successful movement and equilibrium.
By investigating these two key questions I believe we will have a better understanding of how sensory decline contributes to a loss of mobility as we age. My research program involves two key areas of study:
1) To perform direct recordings from sensory afferents and motor efferents in awake human subjects to investigate sensory contributions to movement, balance control, and reflex responses.
2) To elicit balance perturbations to test the function of these reflex loops, and sensory contributions to the maintenance of equilibrium and postural control.
More than 4 million Canadians have arthritis and the number of people living with arthritis continues to increase year after year. Osteoarthritis involves multiple tissues and often includes cartilage damage, bone sclerosis and synovial inflammation. A pressing need remains for joint localized therapies and interventions that could slow or ideally stop this debilitating disease.
In our research, we use genetic and surgical models of spontaneous osteoarthritis (with old age) and post-traumatic osteoarthritis (following injury). We follow the progression of disease in a joint in order to better understand how proteins such as TRPV4, integrin alpha1beta1 and cilia influence chondrocyte signal transduction and thus the development of osteoarthritis.
The primary goals of our research program include: 1) to determine the fundamental role of methyl nutrients in health outcomes; 2) to determine molecular mechanisms underlying the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases; and, 3) to contribute to evidence-based strategies that will improve the health of the population.Learn More
My interests lie in the regulation of fat and carbohydrate metabolism in skeletal muscle, with a particular emphasis on the dysregulation that occurs in obesity and diabetes. Several cytokines released from skeletal muscle, including leptin and adiponectin, are known to significantly affect insulin response in peripheral tissues such as muscle. My research has focused on the effects of these adipokines on muscle lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, and particularly, how the muscle becomes resistant to their effects in obese models and with high fat feeding. The interaction of diet and exercise is also a point of interest in terms of the muscle's response to various hormones including insulin, leptin and adiponectin.Learn More
My research is primarily focused on understanding the regulation of mitochondrial bioenergetics, with a particular interest in studying fatty acid oxidation (breakdown of fat yielding energy) in skeletal and cardiac muscle. We also study human exercise performance as well as type 2 diabetes, heart failure, diabetic cardiomyopathy and various neuropathologies, all conditions that have been affiliated with alterations in mitochondria as a key event in the progression and/or development of the disease.Learn More
My research program adopts a broad and integrative approach to the study of chronic musculoskeletal pain, incorporating both basic and clinical sciences. A major arm to my research program is investigating the underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms using both animal and human models. My research also aims to advance reliable diagnostic criteria (imaging, biomarkers) and physical assessment techniques (quantitative sensory testing, electromyography) that enable effective and reliable treatment and management strategies. By emphasizing transdisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations, my research program will continue to inform future clinical and experimental initiatives in the field of chronic musculoskeletal pain.Learn More
My research is focused on the biological effects of functional foods on chronic disease-related endpoints evaluated in human intervention studies. I have a focus on the agri-food-health continuum with a particular interest in studying the health effects of agri-foods such as soybeans, lentils and beans. I am interested in studies in all life-stages, however am actively involved with the Guelph Family Health Study (focus on families with young children) and with Agri-Food for Healthy Aging (focus on older adults). I am also interested in examining how different sub-groups perceive and consume functional foods as examined through comprehensive questionnaires.Learn More
Currently, there are several major areas of research focus including the study of basic fatty acid metabolism, understanding the association between plasma fatty acids and health outcomes, omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of breast cancer, and examining determinants of health in the Guelph Family Health Study. In addition, related projects include the study of fats in brain health (concussion, Alzheimer's Disease), fatty liver disease, fatty acid metabolism, bone development and nutrigenomics.Learn More
Skeletal muscle is a remarkable tissue which regulates many metabolic processes, generates heat and is the basic motor of locomotion allowing us to meaningfully interact with our environment. When a muscle is activated at various lengths it produces a given predictable amount of force. However, when that muscle is actively lengthened or shortened those predictions go out the window. We actually know very little regarding dynamic muscle contraction. My research program focuses on muscle contractile properties and gaining a deeper understanding of how muscle works. I use altered states to tease out some of these fine muscle details such as muscle fatigue, aging, and training.Learn More
Our research centres on the application of physical activity and other acute/chronic perturbations to human physiology to understand how and why the body adapts to these stresses. We take an integrative systems approach, with our work focusing on interventions and assessments of cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular physiology. Specific focus areas include projects to understand the effects peripheral blood flow manipulation, the consequences of particularly stressful exercise, and novel training methods to optimize targetted physiological adaptations. From a health perspective, we are interested in understanding how exercise can be used to prevent and control risk factors for cardiovascular and cardiometabolic disease.Learn More
Dysfunctional lipid metabolism is a key feature of cardiometabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. My research program has three primary areas of interest:
First, we are using cell and mouse models to determine how omega-3 fats regulate lipid metabolism. We are investigating how omega-3 fats control adipogenesis, as well as lipogenic, lipolytic, and triglyceride synthesis pathways in adipose tissue and liver.
Second, we are studying how different nutrients regulate omega-3 synthesis in the body using both mouse models and human clinical trials.
Third, we are interested to personalize nutrition to improve human cardiometabolic health. We continue to be active in this area through various national and international collaborations.
The role of physical properties in determining the metabolic and health effects of foods is often overlooked. We aim to better understand the relationships between food properties and metabolic response, particularly for dietary lipids. After chemical and structural analyses, real and model food systems are exposed to simulated gastrointestinal conditions using static and dynamic models. This generates insight into how food properties interact with the biochemical and biophysical aspects of digestion to determine nutrient release and absorption. We couple these experimental approaches with human clinical trials to relate material properties and their digestive behavior with metabolic endpoints (e.g. absorption, satiety, inflammation, lipemia, gastrointestinal symptoms).Learn More