Relevant Degree Programs
Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
Great Supervisor Week Mentions
I offer my heartfelt thanks to Drs. Shannon Kolind and Anthony Traboulsee, who have taught me more than I could ever have learned in a classroom. They have provided me with unconditional support and care, and encouraged critical thinking and professional growth. Even with their busy schedules, they regularly met with me to ensure that I was meeting my goals and had all necessary resources. I am very grateful for their mentorship, trust and guidance! #GreatSupervisor week at #UBC.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2021)
The translation of novel brain technologies from the bench to the bedside has been characterized by a tension between priorities to promote rapid access to experimental interventions and the utilitarian pursuit of their evaluation with rigorous and time-intensive research. Through three studies conducted within the scope of this dissertation, I focus on a central research question: What are the perspectives of stakeholders about the translation of novel biotechnologies for neurodegenerative disease?Harnessing the strength of pragmatic neuroethics, I address this research question using both qualitative and quantitative analyses. In the first study, I explore the perspectives of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) about the unproven but highly publicized chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) intervention and the impact of its controversial trajectory on stem cell research. I find that patients are disappointed about the divestment of funds from other areas of research to support CCSVI trials, but maintain enduring hopes for future neurotechnological advancements, including stem cell research. In the second study, I examine how the news media represent timeframes for research and development of stem cell interventions for MS and other neurodegenerative diseases. I find that news articles celebrate the benefits of stem cell research with little context of its caveats. In contrast to prior studies, however, I discover that they also conscientiously convey caution about stem cell tourism and describe a lengthy trajectory between research and clinical availability of therapeutics. In the third study, I explore the perspectives of patients with MS and clinicians responsible for their care about the pace of research and development for stem cell interventions. Here I describe the urgency that patients feel to access stem cell interventions and their desire to learn more about the research process. Clinicians suggest strategies for dialogue with their patients that can clarify translational timeframes and inform hopes. Overall, the findings bring together the voices of key stakeholders and support a commitment to socially minded translation of novel neurotechnologies for neurodegenerative disease.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and multiple sclerosis (MS) both result in acute injury (i.e. attacks or relapses) to the central nervous system with focal demyelination and axonal loss that varies in severity along a spectrum. A variety of non-invasive structural imaging and functional tools can be used to investigate mechanisms of white matter injury and secondary axonal injury in MS and NMO. These include advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of myelin water fraction; optical coherence tomography (OCT) for retinal nerve fibre layer thickness and total macular volume; and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to determine cortical excitability and integrity of cortical spinal pathways.First, the relationship between a functional measure using TMS and a structural measure of myelin in the cortico-spinal tract was examined. Structural changes were found in the descending motor output pathway white matter in NMO along with abnormal TMS measures, suggesting that there is greater spinal cord involvement and more extensive axonal loss found in NMO compared to MS.Next, OCT was used as a measure of the anterior visual pathway and myelin water imaging of the posterior visual pathway; the effects of damage to one part of the visual system on the other was studied. Retrograde degeneration to the retina and anterograde degeneration to the optic radiations from the optic nerve was observed in both MS and NMO subjects with optic neuritis history. A correlation between the measures indicating that damage to one part may cause damage to another part of the visual pathway. Finally, damage was observed in optic pathway in MS patients without optic neuritis history suggesting that there is damage in the absence of lesions in the optic nerve.Finally, myelin water imaging was used to investigate if the disease burden of lesions regulate the level of damage to the normal appearing white matter (NAWM) tracts. The lack of correlation between disease burden of lesions and NAWM myelin water imaging in MS suggested that damage to the NAWM was mediated by processes independent of lesions.These techniques can be used to study and better understand demyelinating diseases such as MS and NMO.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) measures of T₁ relaxation provide a sensitive and reproducible measure of water content in vivo. In the present study T₁ histograms were used to monitor changes in the brain water content of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients initiating Disease Modifying Therapies (DMT). The initiation of DMT, which target inflammation, is associated with a decrease in brain volume (BV) greater than would be expected by natural history alone. Reductions in BV may reflect worsening disease in untreated patients; however for patients treated with DMT, reductions in BV early in the treatment course may represent a clinical improvement due to initial anti-inflammatory effects of therapy and the resulting decrease in edema. The initial change in BV upon starting DMT is termed pseudoatrophy, a reversible decrease in BV due to a loss of water from the brain parenchyma. Patients with clinically definite MS planning on initiating DMT were recruited and scanned at two time points prior to initiating therapy and two time points after initiating therapy to determine the change in water content of the brain.