Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
A: I am a Graduate Research Fellow in Dr. D. Michele Basso’s lab at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio. While originally from the foothills of Western North Carolina, my studies have led me to many places across the United States. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from Pfeiffer University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Duke University. Clinical training in neurologic physical therapy took me to the University of Southern California and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. I spent several years as a physical therapist on the spinal cord injury unit at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida before beginning research training at OSU.
Q: What compelled you to pursue stroke research?
A: My first exposure to stroke came after completion of my undergraduate degree, while working as a physical therapy technician on the stroke unit at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Learning about stroke and the role of rehabilitation in recovery from stroke ultimately led me to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Duke University. While at Duke, I had the truly unique opportunity to participate in the Locomotor Experience Applied Post Stroke (LEAPS) randomized clinical trial led by Dr. Pamela Duncan. As one of only 4 people chosen for this opportunity, I was able to gain valuable experience in all aspects clinical research at the highest level. It was this experience that planted the seed of a career in research and the desire to better understand the role of rehabilitation in recovery from neurologic insult.
Q: What is the focus of your research?
A: While my research career began in stroke, it has taken somewhat of a detour along the way. As such, my research in the Basso Lab uses a spinal cord injury (SCI) model to better understand the role of new myelin in motor learning after central nervous system trauma. We use a truly translational approach, applying consistent training and outcome measures in humans and rodents with SCI. Novel myelin imaging techniques, developed at the University of British Columbia and brought to OSU through collaboration with Dr. Lara Boyd, are applied across species to quantify myelin increases induced by motor learning.
Q: At what stage are you in your research, and what are your future plans?
A: I am in the post-candidacy or dissertation phase of my PhD training at OSU. My future plans include post-doctoral training in translational stroke or SCI research followed by an academic research position at a research-intensive institution.
Q: How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?
A: Canadian stroke research has long been at the forefront worldwide. The National Trainee Association (NTA) is a tremendous resource for trainees in all phases of their research careers providing valuable opportunities for networking, collaboration, and mentorship. The SPiN conference and NTA Webinar Series are also excellent examples of these opportunities. Finally, the welcoming nature of the NTA facilitates involvement and active participation by trainees across all disciplines, even those not directly investigating stroke.
Q: What other interests do you have?
A: When I’m not in the lab, I can usually be found with my wife, hiking, biking, and exploring whatever new location we find ourselves in.