One-on-One with Alex Scott

Dr. Alex Scott.

From the time he arrived at UBC as an anthropology undergrad, to his graduate studies in physiotherapy and biomedical research, to raising a family on campus, Dr. Alex Scott has built a meaningful personal and professional life at the university.

With deep roots across the UBC community, Dr. Scott went on to join the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Physical Therapy as a faculty member in 2010. As a researcher, he’s been pursuing new solutions for chronic tendon pain and overuse injuries that impact a large number of workers and athletes. As an educator, he hopes to inspire a passion for mechanobiology — how cells sense and respond to mechanical signals — and its applications in injury recovery amongst the next generation of physiotherapists.

Now, as Head of the Department of Physical Therapy, Dr. Scott looks forward to the department’s ongoing expansion across the province and shares his best piece of advice.

Who inspires you and why?

My older brother is the human being I most aspire to emulate. He’s full of creativity, a natural love of science and a passion for teaching. He’s been a lifelong educator and now teaches computer science at McMaster University. I’m not sure if my academic career would have taken off without his advice. He showed me how you can build a rewarding career around teaching.

For you, what makes UBC different?

I started a family right here on the UBC Vancouver campus. My son and daughter grew up on campus and we spent many hours in the forests and on the shoreline — as, I now appreciate, uninvited guests on unceded Musqueam territory.

When I look through my photos, I have hundreds from the University Endowment Lands, spanning decades, with so many good memories and fascinating people. Having been here so long, I run into familiar faces everywhere I go — that is part of what makes UBC a true community and a great place to work.

Best piece of advice:

Make sure you always have a good book on the go.

First job:

I delivered newspapers in my hometown of Carleton Place, Ontario. It was a nice way to get to know the neighbours in our small town, feel useful and earn some money – which I always spent right away.

Secret talent:

Parking! I can find a parking spot anywhere, and find a way into it, in record time.

What are your main goals or aspirations?

I want to support the Department of Physical Therapy community, including all the students, staff, colleagues and patients I am privileged to cross paths with. The department is internationally renowned and our research is impacting how physiotherapy is practised world-wide. One of my goals is to make sure we continue on that trajectory and become one of the premiere programs that people recognize and want to attend from all over Canada.

We’re in an exciting period of expansion right now, growing our distributed Master of Physical Therapy program and bringing it to more communities spanning the North, the Fraser Valley, Vancouver, and later this year pending university approvals, welcoming our first cohort on Vancouver Island.

Physio services are in high demand, which is a testament to the value that physiotherapists bring to patients and communities, and we’ve seen tremendous support from government and academic partners. I feel a huge responsibility to deliver on the trust that’s placed in us as we expand to sites around the province and graduate students who are going to improve health for people all across B.C.

How do you like to recharge?

I like to relax with friends or family, preferably while seeing something new, or walking or cycling somewhere beautiful.

A few years ago, my wife, daughter and I walked the Coast to Coast path across England. It took a couple of weeks, but it was both relaxing and energizing to explore beautiful landscapes and historic towns. My family left that area of England when I was three years old, so it was nice to have the opportunity to reconnect to my roots.

Favourite spot in B.C.

Galiano Island / Swiikw is a special place for me. It’s easy to get to from the Lower Mainland but as soon as you get on the ferry you feel all your worries drifting away — the island is a unique world unto itself. I feel recharged the moment I arrive.

Published: April 2024