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Louise Thoma
Louise Thoma

Louise Thoma '08

Physical Therapist

Pole vault is such a mentally and physically challenging event, and without the support and guidance of Coach Zemrock and my incredible teammates, there is no way I would have made it through even one season.


B.S. Exercise Science


Alliance, Ohio 

I am a physical therapist now pursuing my Ph.D. in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. I am specifically interested in understanding the strength and movement of active people with cartilage injuries in their knees. Understanding these factors will help us create rehabilitation guidelines to optimize function and quality of life.

Why Mount Union

Since my dad is a Mount Union professor, I grew up on the Mount Union campus, so initially I was adamant that I wanted to move away from home and was considering schools around the region. However, I found myself comparing each to Mount Union. Ultimately, I only had to look as far as my backyard to find the exact combination of everything I wanted.


The close-knit community atmosphere really sets the school apart.

Favorite Professor

Dr. Ron Mendel. He was very approachable, yet challenged us to think in the classroom. He was always asking questions to us and to himself. Questions he didn’t always have the answer to. But by doing this, he was modeling the scientific inquiry process that is critical to the advancement of knowledge and science. I didn’t think about it much at the time, but looking back I can see how influential it was in my learning to have that example.

After Mount Union

After graduating, I went straight into PT school then the Ph.D. program. But now, during the Ph.D. program, I also work some clinic hours each week seeing patients as a PT.


I had a summer internship at a local physical therapy practice that I arranged. It doubled as my ES internship and the hours I need to apply for PT school.

Campus Involvement

I was a four-year member of the track and field team and it was more valuable than I could have ever imagined. I joined the team my freshman year as a novice to pole vaulting but was intrigued by the challenge. By my senior year, I was fortunate enough to top the conference, reaching heights that I would have written off as impossible my freshmen year. Pole vault is such a mentally and physically challenging event, and without the support and guidance of Coach Zemrock and my incredible teammates, there is no way I would have made it through even one season. It was a transforming experience that is truly difficult to describe.

Career Preparation

In my junior and senior years, I saw new push for more research consumption and scientific writing in both my major (exercise science) and minor (chemistry) classes. Throughout physical therapy school, we were constantly required to read and assess the scientific literature on various topics. I felt that the emphasis in these areas while at Mount Union put me a step above my peers. As a practicing physical therapist, I need to be able to consume and apply the most current research to provide patients the best care according to the evidence. As a researcher, reading and understanding research is a fundamental skill, upon which we learn to conduct independent investigations.

Also, my senior year was the first SCHOLAR Day, where I was able to present a proposed study that I created for my Senior Culminating Experience. I am really glad to see that the research emphasis and SCHOLAR Day continue to grow at Mount Union.

Staying Connected

Luckily with my dad at Mount Union, I am able to keep a pulse on the happenings around campus. Otherwise I might be lost with all the new expansions and updates! I continue to follow all the athletics results through the website and Twitter, with a close eye on the track team of course! I have also had a couple opportunities to speak with the ES students regarding PT and biomechanics research.

Career Goal

I only have one career goal – to love what I do for the rest of my life. Each step I have taken, or next step I consider, occurs with this goal in mind. And so far I am right on track.

Favorite Part of Job

I love the combination of seeing real patients with real problems, then taking those problems to the research side of my life. There are too many questions that cannot be answered through clinical practice alone, yet without that clinical piece, the research carries little meaning.