Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
A: I am from a small but charming town, Princeton, ON, which is mostly a farming community. I studied Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario, and completed my Master’s degree in Health and Rehabilitation Science there as well. Moving to the big city was a large step for me, as I now find myself at the University of Toronto.
Q: What compelled you to pursue stroke research?
A: I think a common story of those pursuing a career in health-related research is because they are personally touched by the health condition they are researching. My story is no different. My father was affected by stroke in 2007. This introduced me to stroke, and the effect it has on the brain and body truly intrigued me. While at first I was interested in pursuing a physiotherapy career, I quickly realized that I was more interested in understanding the “what” and “why” questions that shape physiotherapy treatment for individuals with stroke. Thus I found myself back in academia investigating stroke research in clinical rehabilitation.
Q: What is the focus of your research?
A: The main focus of my research is the rehabilitation of lower-limb function and walking after stroke. Completed and ongoing projects in stroke research include: a feasibility study examining the use of mirror therapy to improve lower-limb function; an investigation of the relationship between walking speed and walking symmetry; and a study to determine how accurate an individual is at self-evaluating their gait asymmetry.
Specifically, for my doctoral thesis I am exploring another avenue that aims to understand the relationship between the ability to perceive and produce a rhythm and walking asymmetry. Not only will this investigation study the relationship in individuals with stroke, but also in healthy adults by artificially inducing a walking asymmetry.
Q: At what stage are you in your research, and what are your future plans?
A: The second year of my doctorate program within the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto has just begun. At this stage, recruitment and data collection on individuals with stroke who have walking asymmetry is underway. Currently my research is as busy as it has ever been! Between comprehensive exam, ethics, and scholarship writing, I find just enough time to process data of various walking trials. And when this stage is over (that is, my doctorate degree) I plan on continuing my research and academic training in the form of a post-doctoral fellowship.
Q: How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?
A: Being part of the National Trainee Association connects like-minded students and trainees across Canada. Members can benefit directly through events held by the association, such as SPiN, where trainees are flown across Canada to meet, collaborate, and share emerging ideas and observe new research techniques that we may only read about otherwise. The opportunities through the association are abundant as well, and range from offering mentorship of other trainees to having you and your research profiled like this. What better way is there get the word out on the important and impactful science Canada’s stroke research trainees are conducting?
Q: What other interests do you have?
A: Sport! I play on two intramural volleyball teams and organize/coach a third here at UofT. During summers I find myself on the fastball diamond, either playing in a men’s league out of Kitchener, Ontario, or umpiring various tournaments across the province. And if I’m not playing, I’m watching and cheering on Canada’s team. Go Jays Go! And when I find the time to get away from it all, I truly enjoy spending time up north at the family cottage.