Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario and, like many Canadian kids growing up, I was sure I was going to become an NHL superstar. When it was clear that wasn’t going to work out, I did my best to stay close to sport by enrolling in the Kinesiology program at the University of Waterloo. While there, my interests shifted from the study of high performance athletes to the central nervous system of individuals who had suffered brain injury, such as a stroke. Although at first glance these populations may seem quite different, the underlying concepts involved in training elite athletes and rehabilitating individuals who have suffered a stroke are extremely similar and that foundation led me to the work that I am currently conducting.
Q: What compelled you to pursue stroke research?
A: It’s safe to say that we all know someone who has been affected by stroke. The impacts of stroke on independence and overall well-being can be devastating. During my undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo, I became interested in neurorehabilitation and specifically the recovery of balance and mobility of stroke survivors. Upon conversing with many stroke survivors and clinicians, this initial interest in stroke research led into my graduate training at the University of Toronto and developed into a passion for understanding how the brain is able to change with intensive practice and training in order to improve the lives of those living with the after-effects of stroke.
Q: What is the focus of your research?
A: At the University of British Columbia, I am working with Dr. Lara Boyd and utilizing novel imaging techniques in order to investigate the mechanisms associated with learning-dependent changes of white matter in the stroke-affected central nervous system. My research is focused on improving the overall quality of life of stroke survivors by understanding the specific mechanisms that result in mobility and motor control limitations and by developing novel rehabilitation strategies that target those limitations.
Q: At what stage are you in your research, and what are your current future plans?
A: I have just started the third-year of my post-doctoral fellowship at UBC in Vancouver and am currently seeking an academic position that will allow me to continue my research program, which emphasizes stroke recovery and rehabilitation.
Q: How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?
A: The National Trainee Association provides an exceptional forum for trainees from across the country to remain connected and can provide unique opportunities for collaboration with one another. Additionally, the mentorship program and SPiN workshop are invaluable resources that allow junior trainees to benefit from the experiences and advice of more senior trainees. The ability to easily interact and share ideas with peers across Canada via the NTA and the benefits of these collaborations improves the overall quality of research generated by emerging trainees in stroke-related research.
Q: What other interests do you have?
A: When I’m outside the lab, I can typically be found somewhere around Vancouver with my wife looking for our next great meal (or beer!). When it’s not raining, I take advantage of the scenery and head out for a bike ride, and in the winter I keep it indoors playing mediocre rec league hockey. And although I live out in Vancouver now, I am a die-hard Toronto sports fan and will suffer with each one of my teams year-after-year!