ProFile: Lisa Sandlos, contract faculty member and PhD candidate

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ProFile Featured

Consistent with its name, the new series ProFile will feature faculty and staff at York University. Included in this short Q-and-A style profile are details about working life at York, followed by a few fun and quirky questions.

ProFile: Lisa Sandlos

Positions at York U and department/faculty: Contract faculty in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science (Faculty of Health) and Department of Dance (School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design); PhD candidate, (and formerly a teaching assistant) in the School of Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies (Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies).

Lisa Sandlos
Lisa Sandlos

How long have you been with York University, and what is your role? I’ve been here 20 years, since my first teaching contract, and I have worked on my PhD intermittently since 2009.

Describe a typical work day at York for you? This past year, the classes I have been teaching took place in Tait McKenzie. My first class starts at 8:30 a.m. so I open up the studio by at least 8:15 a.m. and I chat with my students while getting set up. I teach Pilates, Laban movement analysis and dance so I switch between actively demonstrating movement and exercises to observing the students moving, to explaining movement theories and concepts while writing and illustrating my points on the white board.

I have a three-hour window between my morning and afternoon teaching blocks, so I often make my way to the Scott Library to write or study – I have just submitted my PhD dissertation called “Shimmy, Shake, or Shudder?: A Feminist Ethnographic Analysis of Sexualization and Hypersexualization in Competitive Dance” and I am preparing to defend on April 14.

I like being involved in three different departments (Kinesiology; Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies; Dance) because I get some exercise walking around campus. It also gives me the opportunity to compare the subcultures of different departments while absorbing the “vibe” of York U as a whole. Of course, since the move from on-campus classes to online formats due to Covid-19, I miss seeing my students and colleagues in person but we are staying in touch and completing the work we started in the studio through Moodle.

What do you enjoy most about working at York University? I love the diversity at York U – cultural diversity, but also diversity of perspective, and of academic fields.

Where is your favourite place on campus and why? I love sitting on the hill overlooking Stong Pond. It is peaceful and in the spring, the blossoms on the trees are spectacular.

Describe York University using one word: Expansive.

And now for a little fun…

What is something about you that may surprise other people? For several years now, I have been working with Syrian refugee families who are newcomers to my home community of Erin, ON. I take the families on outings to teach them about Canadian life –  for example, sugaring off in March so they understand the significance of maple syrup production, to the farmer’s market in summer where they can see vendors selling products made from cultural traditions all over the world, to the Erin Fall Fair (it’s awesome! – everyone should come) to learn about agriculture, and skating and tobogganing in winter. I also love the opportunity to learn about Syrian culture, including cooking and the importance they place on gathering with family and friends.

What is one thing you couldn’t live without? (Excluding people) My garden! I have added to it every year since moving to the country and it’s my happy place. I love how a couple of hours of working in the dirt can yield such beautiful and tangible results.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A professional dancer… and then I was. I was very determined.

What is something you always have in your fridge? Ground flax seeds. I grind the seeds in a coffee grinder once a week and sprinkle them on yogurt every morning for the Omega-3 essential fatty acids.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would that person be and why? Simone de Beauvoir. She was a feminist trailblazer and she defied conventional expectations of women in her time. She was an expansive thinker who outlined the larger social-political-economic implications of patriarchy, sexism and misogyny in her book, The Second Sex, but she also addressed the personal implications of unequal power structures for the lives of individual women in all walks of life. If she were still alive and we could have dinner together, I’d like to get her take on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in particular.

If you’d like to be featured in ProFile, download the form here and send it back to with the subject line “ProFile candidate.” Please include a high-res photo in your response.