Quite a Month: Rehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD Program Student Earns Awards at National Conference

Here’s 5 questions with Alexander Sklivas …

By Ellee Sidebottom and Ryan Clark
CHS contributors

It’s been an impressive month for Alexander Sklivas.

Sklivas, currently a second-year student in the Rehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD Program in the College of Health Sciences, won a competitive research award for underrepresented students at the Experimental Biology 2022 conference in Philadelphia earlier this month. He was then invited for an oral presentation at the meeting.

It was there, on behalf of the APS Environmental & Exercise Physiology Section, Sklivas became the recipient of the 2022 Steven M. Horvath Professional Opportunity Award, which is given to the top ranked Research Recognition applicant from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority backgrounds.

As a Steven M. Horvath Awardee, he received a certificate of recognition and a prize of $500. 

In addition, he received a travel award to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Geroscience meeting two weeks ago.

Sklivas is involved in a research project with Esther Dupont-Versteegden, PhD, studying the mechanisms underlying anabolic effects of cyclic compressive loading of muscle.

Here are 5 questions with Alexander Sklivas:

What led you to this type of research?

I had a personal interest in physical fitness and sports performance. Initially, I wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach for a Division I football team. However, as I progressed throughout undergrad and started taking more difficult classes in natural sciences, I fell in love with it. I became less interested in the applied science and more interested in the basic science. This interest allowed me to excel in these courses which proved to myself that I could actually do this as a career, conducting research to answer scientific questions on my own.

What led you to UK?

I received my undergraduate degree from Indiana University and when I was looking for my next step, my friend, who was pursuing a PhD at IU, referred me to Esther Dupont-Versteegden. The Rehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD Program sounded amazing, and the Center for Muscle Biology was a selling point.

How does it feel to win this award?

Well, it's certainly an honor. It definitely makes all the difficult times appear worth it in hindsight, and is extraordinarily motivating to continue doing even better as I move forward.

What do you say when people ask you about UK and the RHB program in particular?

UK and the Rehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD Program is great. The RBH program is very diverse because the cohorts are a mix of basic scientists and clinicians. As a result, the classes are very dynamic and cater to everyone’s backgrounds and experiences.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals for the future are still a bit fuzzy, but I can tell you what I where I would like to end up. Ideally, I would like to be a tenured professor at an R1 institute where I split my time, more or less evenly between research and teaching.