Louise did well academically at KCSS, excelling particularly in language classes. But although French and German came easily, Mr. Carson’s physics class did not! Yet perversely, it was the struggle to master the concepts of physics and the heady feeling of achievement at finally being successful, that led her to focus her research in a discipline rooted firmly in the laws of mechanics.
Ms. Gilchrist’s extracurricular involvement at King included sports (mostly gymnastics) and music. With no special talent in either, she did develop a lifelong love of both and a special awe of the movements that can be achieved by the human body. After leaving KCSS, she went to the University of Toronto, earning the Bachelor of Physical and Health Education and the Bachelor of Education degrees. At the time of her graduation in 1979, there were very few available teaching jobs in Ontario and so she headed west, taking a job teaching high school in a small town in northern Alberta. Although the job was enjoyable and rewarding, there was considerable culture shock after five years of living in downtown Toronto!
In 1981 she began working for the Calgary Board of Education, teaching physical education at a junior high school. She also coached and judged gymnastics extensively at the community, school, club and university levels during this time.
In 1984 Louise moved across country to Dalhousie University in Halifax, where she earned a Master’s degree in Kinesiology. After a brief stint at the University of Iowa, she switched to the University of Waterloo where she earned a PhD in Kinesiology, specializing in Biomechanics. After graduation she took a faculty position at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she stayed for two years. In 1996 she joined the faculty in the department of Exercise Science at the University at Buffalo, teaching biomechanics and pursuing her research in the area of gait and balance. During this time, while continuing to teach, Louise took advantage of an opportunity to earn the Physical Therapy degree and subsequent licensure.
Louise Gilchrist, PT PhD, currently is the Program Director for the brand new Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University at Buffalo. This stage of her career began in 2003. She mostly teaches and administers the program, although she does occasionally get to the research lab. She also practices physical therapy at the local children’s hospital, providing Saturday coverage and doing paediatric aquatic therapy.
Downhill skiing has remained a constant stress-reducer throughout her life, but has been augmented more recently by snowboarding and kayaking.
Her advice to students: Take time to reflect about the world around you. Be curious. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Just have a back-up plan and a good attitude in case things don’t work out!