Stephen S. Cheung

Applied Health Sciences - Kinesiology

Stephen S. Cheung


Our Environmental Ergonomics Lab (EEL) focuses on the effects of environmental stress (e.g., hot and cold temperatures, high altitude, cold water) on human physiology and performance. This research spans fundamental investigations into the mechanisms of human physiology, while at the same time being applied towards making work and recreation in extreme settings safer and more productive. As an example, our work has demonstrated the direct role of high core temperatures in reducing the ability of our brain to recruit and activate muscles. At the same time, we use this knowledge to develop better cooling strategies for athletes and workers in hot conditions.

Our CFI and MRI-funded lab is unique in North America in its capabilities. Our environmental chamber is able to simultaneously control temperature (-30 to +50 degrees Celsius), humidity, and oxygen content (simulating an altitude ~Mexico City). This permits us to manipulate two of the most fundamental environmental stressors that humans have adapted to. In addition, our lab houses a large immersion facility that can control water temperature from 8 - 45 degrees Celsius.

Our recent 2010 projects:

- We had subjects in prolonged cold for 24h to investigate a wide range of physiological (thermal balance, cardiovascular, neuromuscular, metabolic) and cognitive responses to sustained shivering.

- We were in the field with the Toronto Fire Service during summer 2010, tracking firefighters' physiological and psychological responses to live firefighting duties over 24h shifts.

- We studied the effects of circadian rhythm on exercise capacity and thermal responses to high intensity exercise.

- We compared the effects of high-intensity training with traditional endurance training on heat adaptation.

The EEL is led by Dr. Stephen Cheung, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Ergonomics. Our lab currently houses 2 Post-Doctoral Fellows, 2 Ph.D., 3 M.Sc., and 2 B.Sc.K. research students. They have attracted scholarship funding from MITACS, Ministry of Research and Innovation, NSERC, CIHR, and OGS.

We have funding from many partners, including NSERC, WSIB, Transport Canada, and Mark's Work Wearhouse.

Research Keywords: Environmental physiology, human temperature regulation, heat and cold physiology, body fluid balance, liquid conditioning garments, protective clothing, breath-holding, cardiovascular physiology, exercise.


a portrait of Stephen Cheung
Stephen S. Cheung

Canada Research Chair, Professor
Office: WC 271
T 905 688 5550 x5662
F 905 688 8364