Holly A. Bardutz,  PhD is the 2020 recipient of the Nancy Wermuth Francke Memorial Alumni Award

Holly Bardutz, PhD

Holly Bardutz, PhD

In its second year, the $2,500 award was established by alum, Barb Mather, PhD. The inspiration behind the Award is to support a Fielding graduate whose research is in health education. Dr. Mather, the Wermuth family, friends, and Fielding alumni and staff, contributed to the Award’s fundraising campaign organized in Nancy’s memory. March 26, 2020, would have been Nancy’s 73rd Birthday.

We caught up with Dr. Bardutz, and she told us about her research and receiving the Award:

What would you say is your greatest passion related to your project and why you applied for this Award?

Most people think that as they age, their brain and brain function has to deteriorate. That is not true! Your brain can maintain and even improve brain function as you age. You can make new brain cells even if you are in your nineties!

How would you explain your research?

During my doctoral studies at Fielding, I have designed and copyrighted a series of classes which teaches people how to take care of their brain as they age. The classes are taught in a fun, relaxed manner. In my research, I plan to study how the classes impact peoples’ lives. I hope to learn how to improve these classes and how offering them through Zoom impacts the participant experience. Loneliness and social isolation can be a problem for many older adults. Perhaps running these classes through Zoom will help people connect with others, especially during the pandemic we are all experiencing today.

How has Fielding impacted your personal and professional work?

I have always been passionate about the brain, but during my doctoral studies at Fielding, I began to look at the best ways to maintain and improve brain function for all people, including older adults. Fielding opened my eyes to what was going on in the area of cognitive health for older adults worldwide. With the credibility of a PhD, I am a full-time brain researcher at the University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, Canada, where I am the lead researcher of my research program. I also collaborate with other brain researchers at the University of Regina and with colleagues at the UBC Brain Centre. After my PhD, my External Examiner on my dissertation committee asked me if I would like to work with him and his team. I said, “Yes!”

Dr. Holly Bardutz is a Brain Research Associate and Linguistics Instructor at the University of Regina, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. She received her PhD from Fielding in 2017. She has designed and taught several courses at the University of Regina. Most of her students go on to graduate school to become Speech Pathologists, English as an Additional Language Teachers, and Neuroscientists. Though she has taught mostly at First Nations University of Canada –a part of the University of Regina – she recently moved to the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies as part of the Brain Health Initiative launch. She is currently working as Principal Investigator on several research projects with colleagues from the University of British Columbia Brain Centre.  Her current research projects involve the effects of exercise on people who have Parkinson’s Disease, where she and her team will measure sleep cycles using wearable technology and have people spend a night in an actual sleep clinic at the local hospital. Dr. Bardutz has designed and teaches Brain Health and Fitness classes to the public. She is married to Dr. Patrick Bardutz, a veterinarian, and they have two incredible children, Stephen and Emily.

To learn about alumni research funding opportunities, join the Fielding Alumni Association. We express our gratitude to the Award Selection Committee: Dr. Mather, Dr. McClintock, and Hilary Molina, as well as everyone who submitted their applications this year.