What happens to our Kinesiology graduates after they leave Cooke Hall? We hope they’re enjoying satisfying lives and careers made possible by their years of study and hard work. Recently we asked Tyler Bosch to tell us about life after Kinesiology and share his words of advice and wisdom.
Our August 2016 feature is Tyler Bosch.
Tyler started his career at the U of M as a master’s student in Kinesiology advised by Dr. Don Dengel. Upon graduating in 2007, he accepted a position in Chicago, then returned to the U of M four years later to enter the Kinesiology PhD program, again advised by Dr. Dengel. Tyler graduated with his PhD in 2014 and currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship in the U of M Medical School in Diabetes/Endocrinology.
What sparked your decision to go to graduate school?
My decision for graduate school started with two different change of plans for my career. I started college with the plan of applying to physical therapy school. I stuck to this plan until late in my Junior year of college. At that point, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with a few physical therapists and realized that was no longer the direction I wanted to go. Exploring new options, I had always had an interest in research and answering new questions. I did not feel like a career in PT would allow me to continue to answer new questions and solve new problems. Graduate school seemed like a logical next step to take a deeper dive into research since I had been involved in athletics and human performance for most of my life. I started looking into programs around the country. The University of Minnesota had a very strong Kinesiology program and seemed like a good fit. After finishing my Master’s degree, I moved to Chicago and directed two sports performance training centers, and helped to open another two. I spent 4 years in Chicago, but ultimately the research bug was still within me and I decided I wanted to return to school and complete my doctorate and focus more on clinical research. I gained a lot of valuable life experience and also some applied skills during that 4-year hiatus that strengthened my understanding of applying clinical research in the world.
How do you think your experience at the U of M helped you in your career and personal goals?
One of the biggest advantages at the University of Minnesota is that there is truly an opportunity to experience anything you’d like and work with some of the top people in any given field. I was fortunate to have a great advisor, Dr. Donald Dengel, who was open to me exploring my interests and finding ways to collaborate with others if and when it was needed. Experience is critical in any field and in particular in research, and just as important is working with others outside of your lab. I was fortunate to work on several projects that allowed me to identify what I wanted to do, and importantly, what I did not want to do. It also provided valuable experience working with others. Today’s research environment is more and more collaborative and being able to work with others and in a team is critical to good research.
These skills allowed me to obtain a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical School to learn even more skills. I spent two years working with Dr. Lisa Chow, an endocrinologist, working to identify differences in skeletal muscle substrate metabolism between sedentary and trained adults. I learn advance methods in metabolism using stable isotopes and continue my research. Finally, this experience allowed me to continue some of my work in athletics and continue to collaborate on a project with Dr. Dengel and the CEHD group, Educational Technologies and Innovations.
All these experiences have allowed me to gain valuable experience in many different areas and continue to do what I truly enjoy–answer new questions.
I am working to bridge the gap between research and applied sports science and improve the usefulness of technology to support training and performance in athletes.
What were some of your greatest challenges and best experiences as a graduate student?
Since I had two different experiences as a graduate student, I will provide two different answers. When I started my master’s program, I think the biggest challenge I had was saying no, in fact, this is still a challenge for me, but there is a limit to how much you can really do. When I came back to do my doctorate, I was married and we just had our first child. My son was born in Chicago seven days before I started my program. There was definitely an adjustment period early on. I think this problem is common for some PhD students who are married with families, but balancing work-life responsibilities is a real challenge. This also ties back into the first challenge about not taking on too much. Everything in research always takes longer than you expect, my rule of thumb is to take my best estimate of how long it will take and multiply that by two. This is especially true if you do clinical work. I had a lot of great experiences as a graduate student, but for me, the best is the process that goes into answering a new question or solving a new problem. The thoughts and discussions that go with that process are exciting to me. In reality, what we are trying to do in research is to solve new problems.
What advice would you give incoming graduate students?
Three things are really important for new students, the first is to make time every day to learn and grow. Find journal clubs on campus that interest you and sit in on them. Taking the time to listen to others talk about research will help you see things from a new perspective, and it also allows you to interact with others outside of your lab. Also take time every day to read one or two research articles and to write. These skills take time and practice. At the beginning, it can just be trying to summarize a journal article into three main points: What was the question, how did they test it, what did they find. Being able to summarize other people’s interests will help you do it on your own. This leads me to my second point. When you are deciding on your research line, always start with the question and try to make it a question that truly interests you. You are going to spend the next two to five years working on answering that question; if you are passionate about it that time will fly by, if you are doing it to get a degree, it’s not worth it. Finally, be honest and open with your advisor about what you want to do with your career. There are several opportunities for career paths, especially with a PhD, however, what you do during your time in the lab will shape that path. It also allows you to spend your time building your CV to support that path and make you a great candidate coming out. Whether it’s a teaching focus, research focus, industry or other, identifying what you want to do will allow you to set up a plan to get you there.