Physiology researcher Trevor Day named to RSC’s College of New Scholars


Photo of Trevor Day, PhD, professor  in the Department of Biology at Mount Royal University.

Trevor Day is an integrative cardiorespiratory, cerebrovascular and acid-base physiologist committed to physiology education through his teaching, laboratory and field-based research in basic and applied human physiology.


Whether conducting high-altitude field research at a Mount Everest base camp, teaching and mentoring students in the classroom and lab, or performing science songs with his band, Trevor Day, PhD, professor  in the Department of Biology at Mount Royal University, has packed a lot into his academic career.

Day was recently honoured as one of the nation’s top mid-career researchers with his election by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) to the College of New Scholars, Scientists and Artists ― MRU’s first.

The College of New Scholars was established by the RSC in 2014 to recognize individuals who are demonstrating leading scholarly, research or artistic excellence within 15 years of having completed their doctoral program or its equivalent. Members of the College are elected for a period of seven years, and Day is one of 50 named to the class of 2020.

“The Royal Society of Canada is delighted to recognize this year’s exceptional cohort of inductees, as the contributions of these outstanding artists, scholars and scientists have significantly impacted their respective disciplines at both national and international levels,” said RSC President Jeremy McNeil after announcing the election to the College, as well as 87 new fellows in the RSC’s Academies of Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Science.

The inductees will be invited to accept membership to the RSC on Nov. 27. The ceremonies will be adapted this year to ensure all new members can participate in person or online.

“Election to the College of New Scholars is a well-deserved honour of national significance for Dr. Day,” said Mike Quinn, PhD, vice-provost and associate vice-president, Academic at MRU. “His research performance is at the leading edge of high-altitude human physiology. Moreover, his work in preparing undergraduate researchers for careers in advanced research is outstanding.

“We are proud to recognize him as the first MRU faculty member to receive this recognition.”

Taking students to new heights


Photo of Everest base camp.

Day has previously organized and carried out four high-altitude field work research expeditions from 2016 to 2019, where over 30 MRU student research assistants played a key role in helping with data collection in answering novel research questions.


Day is an integrative cardiorespiratory, cerebrovascular and acid-base physiologist committed to physiology education through his teaching, laboratory and field-based research in basic and applied human physiology. His federally-funded research program (NSERC Discovery: 2016-23) engages undergraduate students in all aspects of research endeavours, and integrates teaching, mentoring and research activities. Current scholarly work includes Day’s inquiries into basic and applied human physiology, physiology education and science communication.

“I am incredibly honoured to have been nominated by Mount Royal and accepted into the RSC College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and I am excited to make contributions to the society over the next seven years” Day says.

“Being recognized by peers for our contributions is the most important achievement we can hope for. I know there is a wealth of ambitious and productive scholars at Mount Royal, so I am pleased to have been nominated by MRU to represent the growing culture of scholarship. I foresee many more MRU scholars will join over the coming years, and I am honoured to be among them.”

Prior to his academic training and career, Day worked as a lifeguard and Emergency Medical Technician, jobs that still inform his scholarly work today.

Day’s research interests include the integrated physiological responses to acute and chronic blood gas challenges, and he is a leader in organizing high-altitude research expeditions. He has previously organized and carried out four high-altitude field work research expeditions from 2016 to 2019, where over 30 MRU student research assistants played a key role in helping with data collection in answering novel research questions.

The first three expeditions ventured to Everest Base Camp (5,300 metres) in the Nepal Himalayas. Last year, Day co-organized an expedition to the Barcroft Lab on White Mountain in the Sierra Nevadas in California that included principal investigators from six universities from Canada, the U.S. and Ireland. After baseline testing in MRU’s biology labs, participants carried out 12 distinct studies over 11 days in the Barcroft Lab at 3,800 metres. Recently, Day consulted with NASA on the problem of astronauts breathing elevated CO2 at the International Space Station.

Benefitting society with academic research

The Royal Society of Canada’s mission is:

To serve Canada and Canadians by recognizing Canada’s leading intellectuals, scholars, researchers and artists and by mobilizing them in open discussion and debate, to advance knowledge, encourage integrated interdisciplinary understandings and address issues that are critical to Canada and Canadians.

It’s a mission that resonates with Day, who stresses it is more crucial than ever for universities and academics to highlight the importance of evidence and expertise in trying to understand and solve problems in the physical and social world.

“My interest and involvement in science communication to broad, non-specialist audiences was a likely contributor to my successful nomination, and I aim to become more engaged with this community and continue to participate in outreach initiatives, in addition to continuing to grow my own independent research program in integrative cardiorespiratory physiology.”

In 2008, Day participated in a two-week Science Communication residency at the Banff Centre, returning annually as guest faculty member focused on improvisation and live performance. From this program stemmed a decade-long collaboration with his band and veteran Canadian broadcaster and author Jay Ingram. Together, they have given over 40 original science and music performances. Along with Christian Jacob, PhD, (computer scientist, University of Calgary), they were the winners of the 2014 Canadian Science Writers Association Science in Society Communication Award for an original multimedia project entitled the Giant Walkthrough Brain.

MRU is a teaching-focused undergraduate university, and Day believes students can make meaningful contributions to research, as they are bright, motivated and work well in teams. He says facilitating a research component in undergraduate training helps students develop skills that are not always nurtured in traditional classroom-based courses, and helps them prepare for the next step in their training or careers.

“I work hard to integrate my teaching and research activities, with an eye to including students in all aspects of the research endeavour, as well as bringing my research expertise back to the classroom. Working with students in a research capacity is one of my favourite parts of my job.”


Celebrating research at MRU

Elizabeth Evans, PhD, interim Provost and VP Academic, recently congratulated Day and outlined other research and scholarship highlights at MRU. Overall, MRU received over $5 million in new federal research support funding, “an outstanding accomplishment for our dedicated researchers and scholars in a very short period of time as a university,” said Evans, during a Welcome Back livestream event.

  • It was the most successful year ever for tri-agency grants, with approximately $1.4 million awarded.
  • MRU was awarded two new Canada Research Chairs: Ranjan Datta, PhD, Community Disaster Research and Cherie Woolmer, PhD, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
  • Mount Royal was awarded its first Canada Foundation for Innovation grants, seeking matching funds from the province for two awards and awaiting the outcome of a third.
  • In addition to the previously announced awards, Tim Haney, PhD, sociology professor, and Paul Varella, PhD, associate professor in general management, received SSHRC Insight Development Grants.


The Office of Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement at Mount Royal is dedicated to helping research and scholarly activity from beginning to end.

Sept. 15, 2020 ― Peter Glenn

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