The field of exercise science and allied health is the fastest growing field within the United States, leading Wittenberg to answer the demand by adding John Thistlethwaite to help grow its exciting program.
Prior to joining Wittenberg this year, Thistlethwaite, originally from St. Marys, Ohio, served for 11 years as the chair and director of the biology and exercise science programs at Ohio Dominican University where he was able to develop undergraduate research, implement more than 40 new courses, and generate seven new programs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Ohio Northern University in 2002, and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in exercise science from the University of Toledo in 2005 and 2008, respectively.
As a faculty member in the Department of Health, Fitness, and Sport, Thistlethwaite teaches courses in exercise science as well as the Master of Arts (MA) in athletic coaching. As an associate professor of health, fitness, and sport, his primary area of focus is cardiopulmonary physiology and metabolism with additional focus in endocrinology, neurophysiology, and anatomy. He has received awards for his work in the field and in the classroom, and has delivered presentations and professional papers on his areas of expertise. His current research focuses on arterial function and other cardiovascular characteristics between sedentary and non-sedentary individuals using techniques such as Doppler ultrasonography, pulmonary gas exchange, and near-infrared spectroscopy.
He recently took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his goals and ideas for Wittenberg’s program.
Wittenberg: What courses do you teach here at Wittenberg?
Thistlethwaite: I currently teach nutrition, advanced care and prevention of athletic injuries, and biomechanics. I have taught multiple courses in the anatomy and physiology area including human physiology, gross human anatomy, exercise physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, testing and prescription, EKG analysis, cardiopulmonary exercise physiology, and medical terminology.
Wittenberg: Why did you choose to come to Wittenberg?
Thistlethwaite: Wittenberg has a tremendous academic reputation, which is one of the reasons I chose to come here after 11 years at another institution. I also chose here because of the newer exercise science program, where I have an opportunity to help grow this program and collaborate with others to have the best prepared students of any institution. In addition, I take to heart the motto of ‘having light and passing that light on to others,’ as that is one of our primary responsibilities as professors.
Wittenberg: Please share your philosophy on teaching and learning in this field.
Thistlethwaite: My philosophy of teaching and learning is to take an interest in our students and always hold high expectations. My goal as a professor is to have the best prepared students upon graduation because of their knowledge and their work ethic. I also understand that learning takes place in multiple forms, so I try to incorporate multiple ways of teaching and assessing. This can include labs, discussion, interpreting research articles, writing manuscripts, etc. Students will ultimately reach your expectations as long as you hold those expectations.
Wittenberg: Tell us about the opportunities coming in this field of study.
Thistlethwaite: Careers in this field are numerous and growing.The more popular areas are primary care physician, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy, cardiopulmonary rehab, personal trainer, athletic trainer, and registered dietician.The opportunities we can provide our students interested in pursuing these careers are hands-on such as labs that use the same equipment students will see in the field, assessments that mimic what students will encounter in a professional or graduate program, and research that contributes to the knowledge in the field. The field of exercise science and allied health is the fastest growing field within the United States, so much so that seven of the top 10 careers are in this field. As a result, this is one of the fastest growing and larger majors at most institutions.
Wittenberg: What are you most excited about as the new academic year continues to unfold?
Thistlethwaite: I am most excited about getting to know the students and hopefully getting them as excited about learning the content as I am to guide them in learning it.
Wittenberg: Are all of your classes at the new facility, the Health, Wellness & Athletics Complex dedicated during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend 2019, Oct. 24-27, and what do you think about this new facility?
Thistlethwaite: Currently all of the courses I teach are in the new facility. I love the renovations and have noticed how excited the students are to be in this space.The new HWA will undoubtedly attract more students simply because it is a showcase that no other peer institutions can claim. Students want to be a part of something and have personal stake in the institution they attend. This is a complex that will bring students together and be a meeting point for multiple clubs and teams.
I think this is an exciting time at Wittenberg where we as faculty have a unique opportunity to improve upon already great programs and formulate new collaborations to prepare the best and most successful students possible of any institution.