Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
I grew up in a rural Central Newfoundland and Labrador community of 3,500 named Botwood. From there, in 1999, I moved to Prince Edward Island on a hockey scholarship and attended UPEI and the Atlantic Veterinary College where I completed my B.Sc (Hons, Psychology) and M.ScVM, respectively. During my Master’s degree, I met Dr. Dale Corbett at several meetings and decided in 2006 to move back home to NL to pursue a PhD in his lab at Memorial University. My research was primarily focused on neuroinflammation and cognitive plasticity following experimental stroke. In 2009-10, I spent some time working as a Post-Doctoral student in Dr. Gail Eskes’ Neuropsychology Laboratory at Dalhousie, Halifax, Nova Scotia working on a project that assessed the contribution of physical activity and cognitive stimulation on cognitive function. Shortly after, I moved back to NL and continued my Post-Doctoral work with Dr. Corbett that followed up on exciting new ideas around animal models of cognitive rehabilitation following stroke. From 2011-15 my focus changed from basic laboratory sciences to clinical medicine and I completed medical school (MD) training at Memorial University. Currently, I am a PGY-1 in Neuropathology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University in London, ON.
What compelled you to pursue stroke research?
I’ve been interested in neurosciences for as long as I can remember, reading the works of Oliver Sacks and V.S. Ramachandran in high school. The concept of neuroplasticity was fascinating to me as a primary school student and, I guess, this solidified my interests in studying the brain. During my undergraduate degree at UPEI, my grandfather suffered a stroke and I think that this pushed me in the direction of learning more about cerebrovascular diseases and the brain’s ability to heal and change. Fortunately, I met some fantastic mentors along the way who have shaped my knowledge and fostered my interests in stroke research.
What is the focus of your research?
My basic science research interests are surrounding mechanisms of cognitive plasticity and rehabilitation following experimental stroke. I am hoping to use this knowledge and interest to pursue a clinical understanding of cerebrovascular diseases and their association with dementias.
At what stage are you in your research, and what are your current future plans?
I am at the beginning of a 5-year Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons specialty in Neuropathology. Ultimately, I would like to combine a career of clinical/academic medicine and research.
How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?
The National Trainee Association offers a fantastic opportunity for students to meet and network. This is an important part of developing a future research career. The NTA also puts trainees in close contact with other PI’s who can serve as mentors, supervisors and future colleagues.
What other interests do you have?
My wife and I have 3 beautiful daughters. Our days are spent working, cooking, cleaning and so on… We try our best in our busy lives to eat meals together when we can and gather around for bedtime stories! I try to stay active playing hockey several times each week. During the summer, running, biking and family walks take precedence. We’re setting up our new lives here in London, ON right now trying to take advantage of the beautiful Southwestern Ontario weather.