PhD Candidate and contributor to the AMiNDR Podcast
Place of work / study:
University of British Columbia – Centre for Blood Research
Area of Research:
My main research interest is vascular contributions to dementia. My thesis is looking at this through a unique lens: transfusion medicine. I hope to better understand two prominent risk factors for dementia – aging and diabetes – by characterizing blood products derived from aged and diabetic donors. This work may also lead to policy change within the transfusion medicine realm, whereby the “shelf-life” of certain products may need to be tapered to characteristics of the donors.
How is your work funded?
I am funded by a Vanier CIHR award.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in the relatively small town of North Bay, Ontario in Canada where I played a lot of hockey and did a lot of fishing, as most Canadians do. I moved to Ottawa shortly after I turned 18, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and got a lot of hands-on research. I attribute a lot of my success there to Dr. Kyle Biggar who really supported me as I was getting my feet wet as an academic. After my undergrad, I moved to Vancouver – where I had wanted to live since visiting my grandparents for the first time on Vancouver island – to pursue a PhD in Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. Since arriving in Vancouver, I’ve met many amazing people and have been a part of several initiatives that I’m really proud of. Notably, I co-founded A Month in Neurodegenerative Disease Research AMiNDR) Podcast, and host a monthly episode to keep researchers up to date on the latest research on vascular contributions to Alzheimer disease. I now work with Dr. Dana Devine at the Centre for Blood Research, live 2 blocks from the ocean, own more sporting equipment than I know what to do with, and couldn’t be happier.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
My COVID hobby was fishing for crabs from my kayak.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
My first exposure to dementia was volunteering at the nursing home where my mum worked when I was growing up, and this sparked my interest in the brain. I really wanted to understand why certain people developed dementia, and became very interested in Alzheimer disease specifically. Disenchanted by the dominant “amyloid cascade hypothesis”, I’ve become very interested in furthering the work on vascular contributions to Alzheimer disease.
What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?
I feel that I’m at this stage myself and not qualified to give advice yet, but I’d say to not get too disenchanted by academia and really focus on your work/life balance. It’s been tough with the pandemic, but try to keep some aspects of “work” and “life” distinct to avoid burnout.
What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?
Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I love Brene but this isn’t one of my favourite books. I’d recommend listening to her podcast “Dare to Lead” instead.
Can we find you on Twitter & Instagram?
Want to share your playlist?