Rehab Sciences Research News

Janna Griffioen and her community partner receive Community-University Engagement Support (CUES) funding

Congrats to PhD student Janna and her community partner, Kix Citton, receiving CUES funding for their project “Providing a BC-Wide Community-based Peer-support Program for People with Brain Injury”. CUES funding supports community-university partnerships which are aimed at benefiting communities and advancing collaborative research, teaching and learning.

Read the full article here.

Dr. Jordan Guenette and Olivia Ferguson featured in Outside Magazine for their study on ‘air hunger’

Dr Jordan Guenette and graduate student Olivia Ferguson discussed their study on physiological factors associated with unsatisfied inspiration, also known as ‘air hunger’. This study incorporated results from lung-function and cardiopulmonary exercise tests completed by 321 healthy adults between the ages of 19 and 40.

Read the full article here.

Professor emeritus Dr. Catherine Backman featured in New York Times article

Dr. Catherine Backman and her research on the link between knitting and wellbeing was featured in the New York Times article ‘Working with your hands is good for your brain’. The article explores the cognitive and emotional benefits associated with hands-on activities, such as knitting and colouring.

Read the full article here.

Congratulations to Dr Janice Eng for receiving funding for the SMART Labs project through BCKDF


The BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) invests in research to ensure our province leads in innovative solutions and cutting-edge research to improve the lives of all British Columbians. SMART Labs will develop innovative, evidence-based treatments that are guided by measurable biomarkers, and use activities simulating real-world function through advanced technologies.

Learn more about the funding recipients here.

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose Interviewed by CBC Radio


Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose spoke to CBC Radio to emphasize the importance of physical activity in maintaining brain health. “The brain loses mass as we age making it harder to remember certain memories”. Listen to the segment here.

Recent Publication Co-authored by Dr. Ben Mortenson

Dr. Ben Mortenson recently co-authored a paper exploring the social determinants of health from the perspective of people with spinal cord injuries.

The goal of the qualitative study was to examine the lived experiences of persons living with spinal cord injury in coping and managing their health and functioning and to explore an interaction between their embodied experiences and structural issues that contribute to health and wellbeing. The findings emphasize the need to re-evaluate public health approaches, recognize the linkages between inequalities linked to disability, and incorporate an embodiment lens from a disability justice perspective.

Dr Pat Camp takes part in 5-Year NIH Grant, TB PuRe

Dr. Pat Camp is an investigator on a recently awarded $3,400,000 5-year NIH grant entitled TB PuRe. Despite successful treatment, tuberculosis is associated with chronic lung impairment, severe respiratory symptoms, and poor physical function. This study will assess the effectiveness, feasibility, and cost-effectiveness of a home-based pulmonary rehabilitation program for preventing post-tuberculosis respiratory morbidity in India. Dr. Camp is responsible for the design and implementation of at-home rehabilitation programs conducted in three sites in India.

Congratulations to Dr. Pat Camp on this grant!


Dr. Janice Eng is testing a ‘smart glove’ that can boost hand mobility of stroke patients


Dr Janice Eng is testing how a groundbreaking “smart glove” developed at UBC can improve stroke patient rehabilitation and ultimately restore the use of their limbs and hands.

Learn more here.

Dr. Jackie Whittaker Receives Arthritis Society Canada Strategic Operating Grant

Home | Arthritis Society Canada

Congratulations to Dr. Jackie Whittaker’s team for securing a 3-year Arthritis Society Canada Strategic Operating Grant for the project ‘Self-managing knee health in young people at high-risk of early-onset osteoarthritis: The MyKnee randomized controlled trial’. The Strategic Operating Grant (SOG) program provides funding to support research proposals aligned with Arthritis Society Canada’s priorities.

Learn more here.


RHSC Faculty Recipients of the Michael Smith Health awards

Congratulations to our Rehabilitation Sciences faculty who received new funding from Michael Smith Health Research BC through the 2023 Convening & Collaborating (C2) (Dr. Taru Manyanga and Dr. Jill Zwicker) and Reach programs (Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Dr. Janice Eng, and Dr. Stephanie Glegg). These funding programs enable health researchers to foster collaboration, disseminate and implement evidence, and increase the impact of their research — ultimately improving the health of people and communities in BC.

Convening & Collaborating (C2) Awards

C2 awards support health researchers and research users to engage in meaningful collaboration to co-create relevant and impactful research for people such as patients, health practitioners and policymakers.

Dr Taru Manyanga

Dr. Taru Manyanga is a registered physical therapist and Affiliate Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy in the UBC Master of Physical Therapy-North program.

Project title: ‘A multisectoral physical activity engagement strategy for youth living in Northern British Columbia’

Project Summary:  Inequities in opportunities to participate in regular physical activity (PA), and the health risks associated with insufficient PA, including low self esteem, increased adiposity, low academic performance and the early onset of non-communicable diseases among youth, requires urgent attention. Insufficient PA is higher among rural youth, who are typically excluded in PA related research. This is a community-based project involving 4 collaborative engagement workshops to identify and address barriers to youth PA in northern, rural, and remote BC communities. The project will consist of brainstorming workshops conducted over 12 months aimed at centering youth voices, providing opportunities for youth to take leadership roles in developing and promoting PA programs, as well as advocating for policies and initiatives that support their regular PA participation in the community.

Dr Jill Zwicker

Dr. Jill Zwicker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, a Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Brain Development and Rehabilitation, and an Investigator at BC Children’s Hospital.

Project Title: ‘Partnering to improve early identification and early intervention for children with developmental coordination disorder’

Project Summary: Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a common condition that significantly interferes with a child’s ability to learn motor skills. Without treatment, these motor challenges can persist into adulthood and limit job opportunities, affect physical and mental health, and impact quality of life. Early identification and intervention are crucial to change this negative trajectory. Our survey of BC parents of children with DCD showed that they first identified concerns about their child’s motor skills at age 3 years, but did not receive a diagnosis until age 8, missing a critical window for early intervention. Parents also identified significant barriers to accessing therapy for their child. In this project, we will bring together a diverse group of parents, researchers, health organizations, and clinicians to determine how to streamline early identification and improve access to early intervention. We will hold a series of meetings with these key partners to identify research objectives and co-develop a grant application to implement and evaluate early interventions for children with DCD.

Reach Awards

Reach awards support health researchers to disseminate research evidence by co-developing events, activities, and tools with research users. The funding helps research teams reach audiences who can use the knowledge to make an impact.

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD, PT, Professor, is a physical therapist and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging at the University of British Columbia, Department of Physical Therapy.

Project Title: ‘Exercise for Healthy Aging: Mobilizing Knowledge with Users and Clinicians in BC’

Project Summary: Exercise can improve cognitive function and mobility in older adults. Maintaining both cognitive function and mobility are vital to functional independence and quality of life. However, many older adults are inactive. Key barriers to exercise include: 1) lack of motivation; 2) medical conditions, such as arthritis; and 3) lack of knowledge on how to exercise safely and effectively. To address these barriers, we intend to use a public forum, workshops, and online resources to motivate and enable older adults to uptake exercise, and thereby contribute to the global agenda of healthy aging.

Dr. Janice Eng

Dr. Janice Eng is a University Killam Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Physical Therapy.

Project Title: ‘Primary Care and Spinal Cord Injury – Filling the Knowledge Gap with Continuing Medical Education and Partnership’

Project Summary: People with SCI need specialized care from their family doctors for health issues such as bladder, bowel, skin, pain, blood pressure, fertility, and breathing conditions. However, most family doctors have received little training on how to help a patient with SCI. We will host a Continuing Medical Education event where family doctors and people with SCI can learn about key health issues about SCI and speak freely about their concerns. These activities will complement our existing Spinal Cord Injury Research Evidence (SCIRE) website ( which has a special section for Primary Care and SCI and is accessed by over 300,000 health care providers annually. Lastly, all activities will be evaluated for their impact.

Dr. Stephanie Glegg

Dr. Stephanie Glegg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and an Investigator at BC Children’s Hospital.

Project Title: ‘Early detection and diagnosis of cerebral palsy: Implementing best practice guidelines in BC ’

Project Summary: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in Canadian children. Early therapy can maximize a child’s abilities and prevent health complications. In the first two years of life, the brain is most able to reorganize and grow new pathways. Yet, the average age of diagnosis in BC is nearly 25 months. A diagnosis helps families to understand what CP is, access therapies and plan for the future. Our survey showed many doctors lack the knowledge, skills, and confidence to diagnose early, and an understanding of families’ lived experience. Our strategy for change includes education, training, and sharing parents’ experiences using online learning, resources, and interactive online and in-person workshops. Our aim is to support doctors to assess for and diagnose CP early, and help families through the diagnosis and next steps.


Dr. Kristin Campbell & Kendra Zadravec MPT/PhD Trainee join JOSPT podcast








Dr Kristin Campbell and MPT/PhD Trainee Kendra Zadravec discussed staying active during cancer treatment with Dr Clare Ardern, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) in a recent podcast.

Listen to the podcast on Spotify here.


“Opera on the Brain” – Dr. Lara Boyd Discusses Neuroplasticity & Opera with the UBC Magazine

In an October article for the University of British Columbia Magazine, Dr Lara Boyd was featured along with Nancy Hermiston, Voice and Opera Divisions director and their research team.

As part of the Wall Opera Project, Dr. Boyd and team are focusing on one neuroplasticity question exploring how opera training impacts memory, cognitive functioning, and learning.

By comparing the MRI brain scans of opera student participants before they start their training and a year later, the researchers are hoping to zero in on the specific changes happening in the brain. Read the full article here.

Rebeca Hernandez Interviewed by Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute






Rebeca Hernandez, PhD student studying under the supervision of Dr. Teresa Liu Ambrose in the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Health Lab, was recently interviewed by Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) as part of their People in Profile series.

Rebeca’s research focuses on the impact of lifestyle interventions on the cognitive function and brain health of older adults. This year Rebeca received the Alzheimer Society Research Program Doctoral Award, supporting Rebeca’s commitment to dementia prevention.

Read the full interview here.

RHSC Internal Award Winners

Meet the newest RHSC Internal Award Winners: Rinni Mamman received the Louise McGregor Memorial Scholarship in Neurorehabilitation, Jasleen Grewal received the Margaret Hood Scholarship in Occupational Therapy, and Julia Dahlby received the Jane Hudson Scholarship in Physical Therapy.

Each year, the Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences distribute financial awards to deserving students. This funding includes bursaries, scholarships and prizes and fellowships. In most cases, these awards are judged by faculty members of the Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program.

Rinni Mamman

Rinni Mamman is a PhD student working in the CEDAR (Collaborative Evidence: Developing Awareness and Research) Brain Injury Lab, supervised by Dr Julia Schmidt.

Rinni’s research explores the changes in self-identity after a traumatic brain injury. She aims to gain a deeper understanding of how sense of self is altered after brain injury by collaborating with individuals with brain injuries and key stakeholder groups. Additionally, Rinni focuses on using a creative lens to produce knowledge dissemination activities to improve awareness about the experiences of life after a traumatic brain injury.

In Rinni’s spare time, she loves to travel, read, chill with her cats, and explore the activities Vancouver has to offer!



Jasleen Grewal

Jasleen is a PhD candidate and registered occupational therapist, working in the CEDAR Brain Injury Lab, supervised by Dr. Julia Schmidt.

Jasleen’s research is informed by her clinical experience. Her research focuses on use of virtual reality in neurorehabilitation. Specifically, she is interested in understanding the efficacy of virtual reality, as well as the experiences of clinicians and patients when using virtual reality.

In her spare time, Jasleen likes to read, try new recipes and spend time with family, friends and her puppy.




Julia Dahlby

Julia is a PhD student and physiotherapist working in the Brain Behaviour Lab under the supervision of Dr. Lara Boyd.

Julia’s research focuses on the differences between females and males on motor learning after stroke. Specifically, Julia is interested in understanding how females and males with stroke respond to different types of feedback when learning a new upper limb motor skill, and how this can inform physical therapy treatment programs in the future.

In her spare time, Julia enjoys skiing, painting, or hanging out with family and friends.




View all of our funding opportunities.

Publication: Biopsychosocial factors of quality of life in individuals with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury: a scoping review

PhD student Rinni Mamman is first author on a UBC Rehabilitation Sciences-collaborative article recently published in Quality of Life Research.

Entitled “Biopsychosocial factors of quality of life in individuals with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury: a scoping review”, Rinni’s article discusses the different biopsychosocial factors that affect a person’s Quality of Life after a moderate to severe Traumatic Brain Injury.

Read the full article here on Springer Link


PhD Student Olivia Ferguson Receives CANTRAIN-CTTP & Michael Smith Health Research BC Doctoral Studentship 2023 Award

Join us in congratulating RHSC PhD Student Olivia Ferguson on receiving the CANTRAIN-CTTP & Michael Smith Health Research BC Doctoral Studentship 2023 Award! CANTRAIN is a CIHR-funded national clinical trials training platform that supports full-time PhD students who are conducting research related to clinical trials.

Tell us a little bit about your lab! What type of research are you conducting?

The Cardiopulmonary Exercise Physiology Laboratory does research to better understand the physiological factors that limit exercise tolerance across the spectrum of health and chronic lung disease.

How does winning the CANTRAIN Award help your research?

This award will support my graduate work not only financially, but through additional educational opportunities in clinical trial development and management. CANTRAIN provides it’s award recipients with the resources to participate in a clinical trials curriculum, as well as on going mentorship from professionals in the field. These opportunities will be invaluable as I progress throughout my doctoral studies.

What do you like to do outside of academia?

Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time in the beautiful BC mountains, hiking and backcountry camping in the summer, and skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.


RHSC Faculty Dr. Ben Mortenson featured in article for UBC Medicine Pathways




Informative article from RHSC supervisor and OSOT Professor Dr. Ben Mortenson on how to mitigate the effects of climate change on the lives of those living with disabilities in the current issue of UBC Medicine Pathways.

Read the full article here: UBC Medicine Pathways

RHSC supervisor and Dept of Physical Therapy Associate Professor Dr. Naznin Virji-Babul interviewed by ABC radio Australia

Dr Naznin Virji-Babul was interviewed by ABC radio Australia discussing the confusion around concussions. Listen to the episode here.

Dr. Pat Camp Recieves CIHR THINC Team Grant

Dr. Pat Camp, RHSC supervisor and Dept of Physical Therapy Associate Professor, in partnership with the VCH Legacy for Airway Health, was awarded a $2 million-dollar CIHR THINC Team Grant for SPIRO: SPirometry for Improved Indigenous and Rural Respiratory Outcomes. The THINC (Transforming Health with Integrated Care) grant initiative aims to address health inequities and gaps in care by funding teams of clinicians, researchers, health authority leaders, and patient partners to tackle complex health care problems. The SPIRO team is working with Carrier Sekani Family Services, Northern Health, and Vancouver Coastal Health to address access concerns to spirometry and integrated care, especially for individuals with chronic lung disease living in remote, rural and First Nations communities. More information on THINC initiatives can be found here.

Congratulations to Dr. Pat Camp on receiving this grant!

Recent Publication: Dr. Ben Mortenson in Home Health Care Services Quarterly


Dr. W. Ben Mortenson, RHSC Supervisor and OSOT Professor, was part of a research team who published their study on “Service delivery and programing adaptations for individuals with disabilities by municipalities and non-profit organizations during the COVID pandemic” in the March 2023 issue of Home Health Care Services Quarterly.

The article details the research team’s study into how municipalities and nonprofit organizations in particular provided service delivery and programming for people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their qualitative interpretative description study identified how these organizations were doing more with less, adapting existing services, continuing consultation with stakeholders, success at adapting services, innovating fundraising, and embracing radical change.

Read the full article here:


RHSC Faculty Dr. Linda Li featured as a guest on the Radio Health Journal Podcast


Dr. Linda Li, RHSC Supervisor and Dept. of Physical Therapy Professor, was featured as a guest on the Radio Health Journal Podcast, where she discussed the importance of community support when coping with inflammatory arthritis.

Listen to Linda’s episode here: 

RHSC Faculty Lara Boyd & Courtney Pollock Receive NSERC Discovery Research Grants

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada’s Discovery Research Program provides funding over five years to researchers pursuing promising areas of research on pressing modern issues. The Program supports researchers at different career stages with their long-term research goals and provides them the opportunity to train the researchers and scientists of the future. Recipients of the Discovery Research grants make the discoveries that ultimately improve our society and quality of life.



Dr. Lara Boyd, research supervisor in the UBC Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences (RHSC) and Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, received a Discovery Research grant worth $64,100.00 over 5 years supporting research on “The neurophysiology underpinning human motor learning”.




Dr. Courtney Pollock, research supervisor in the UBC Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences (RHSC) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, received two Discovery Research grants worth $12,500.00 and $38,000.00 over 5 years supporting research on “Interaction between physiological arousal, attention and motor learning when walking is challenged”.


Congratulations to our RHSC faculty!




PhD Candidate Himani Prajapati Receives Public Scholar Initiative Award

Join us in congratulating RHSC PhD Candidate Himani Prajapati on receiving a Public Scholars Initiative Award!

The Public Scholars Initiative Award is part of the UBC Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) which intends to build connections, community, and capacity for doctoral students who are interested in explicitly linking their doctoral work to an arena of public benefit and integrating broader and more career-relevant forms of scholarship into their doctoral education process. Each year funding is available for up to approximately 30 new students from all faculties at UBC and UBCO. Scholars selected for the cohort will be eligible for a renewal funding a second year. The PSI also introduced a Health Equity Stream for 2023/24, open for 6-8 students in health-oriented and equity-focused research.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your lab. What type of research are you conducting?

I am a Ph.D. candidate at MATTERS lab, supervised by Dr. Bill Miller. My doctoral research is centered on advancing the understanding and application of yoga for individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI). Specifically, we are developing a yoga intervention guided by those with lived experiences, aiming to provide evidence-based recommendations for yoga programs. Given my passion for neurorehabilitation and interest in exploring the neural regulation of yoga, I strongly believe that yoga has the potential to enhance well-being after SCI.

How does winning the PSI Award help your research?

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been honoured with the Public Scholar Initiative Award. This prestigious recognition not only grants me access to an interdisciplinary platform where I can learn from fellow graduate students and further develop my research skills but also provides me with an excellent opportunity to share our research findings with the SCI community.

And what do you like to do outside of academia?

During my free time, I immerse myself in reading books on neuroplasticity and spirituality. This practice allows me to self-reflect on my daily experiences and actively work towards nurturing and rewiring my neurons. Additionally, I have a deep love for music and dance, constantly exploring various dance forms and taking long walks while enjoying my favourite playlist.

2023 Affiliated Award Recipients

Congratulations to our recipients of the UBC Affiliated Fellowships! The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers approximately 50 Affiliated Fellowships each year to meritorious students for full-time study and/or research leading to a graduate degree. Awards are made on the basis of academic excellence, and are open to current and prospective full-time UBC graduate students.

We are pleased to announce that MSc students Keyara Brody and Victoria Cirone were each awarded a Cordula and Gunter Paetzold Fellowship. Both Victoria & Keyara are 2023 CGS-M recipients and they receive top-up amounts equal to the full Paetzold Fellowship.

We are also pleased to announce that PhD Candidate Anne-Cecile Delaisse was awarded the Li Tze Fong Memorial Fellowship. Anne received 2023 external funding and receives a top-up amount equal to the full Li Tze Fong Fellowship. Congratulations, Keyara, Anne, and Victoria!

Keyara Brody

Keyara is an MSc student supervised by Dr. Skye Barbic. Keyara’s research looks at sex and gender differences in social support for chronic disease self-management, in particular cardiovascular disease self-management, and is working towards a career focusing on Indigenous health and wellness.

The Paetzold Fellowship, in addition to the CGS-M, will fund Keyara’s full studies, allowing her to truly focus on her research and learning.

Keyara is a hard working and dedicated researcher and student! Keyara enjoys being engaged in conversation and knowledge sharing with other scholars. She is grateful for this award as it will allow her the time and space to pursue interests outside of academia.



Anne-Cecile Delaisse

Anne works under Dr Suzanne Huot’s supervision. Dr. Huot’s lab focuses broadly on occupations of marginalized populations, such as immigrants and indigenous people. Anne’s dissertation is a comparative multi-sited ethnography with Vietnamese people migrating to, or returning from Vancouver and Paris. Anne is interested in how the Canadian and French approaches to immigration, as well as the Vietnamese diaspora policies, impact Vietnamese immigrants’ engagement in local and transnational occupations.

In the 3rd year of her PhD, Anne recently completed data collection for her dissertation project: 86 interviews with 63 participants, including international students and recent migrants in Vancouver and Paris, as well as returning migrants in Vietnam. Thanks to the Li Tze Fong Memorial Fellowship, Anne will have the financial resources to analyze this rich data thoroughly and disseminate her findings. First, Anne will engage with the community and key stakeholders to share and discuss the results. Secondly, Anne plans to write manuscripts to be submitted to academic journals and included in her dissertation.

Outside of academia, Anne enjoys learning and practicing different languages, as it provides a window into diverse cultures and ways of life, almost like traveling without leaving home. Anne has also recently taken up painting as a hobby, and as I’m not particularly skilled at drawing, I’ve been using paint-by-number kits. I find this to be a relaxing activity. I especially enjoy doing it outside on my balcony on sunny days.

Victoria Cirone

Victoria is part of the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Health Lab supervised by Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose. The lab researches the role of exercise on brain health, cognitive function, and physical function in older adults to promote healthy aging. Victoria is researching how high-intensity interval training may promote brain health and memory in perimenopause.

The Paetzold award, in addition to the CGS-M, will give Victoria the opportunity to fully devote her time and focus to her research.

Outside of academia, you can find Victoria running along the beach or in the trails! Plus, she loves watching the newest reality TV shows.

2023 BC Graduate Scholarship Recipient – Gordon Tao

Meet this year’s BC Graduate Scholarship Recipient: Gordon Tao

The province of British Columbia has funded graduate scholarships in any field of study, with emphasis on research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and support for Indigenous students. The scholarships of $15,000 is awarded by graduate programs and disciplinary Faculties. Gordon Tao was selected by the Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences to receive the BC Graduate Scholarship for 2023. Congratulations, Gordon!

Tell us a little bit about your lab! What type of research are you conducting?

At the MATTERS Lab, we are interested in researching and developing assistive technology that supports mobility, participation, and healthy aging. We’re a diverse team, including backgrounds in basic sciences, design, clinical practice, and rehabilitation science, located at the GF Strong Rehabilitation centre. My research is focused on advancing the design of digital games specifically as rehabilitation therapy. We’re specifically developing a conceptual framework that closely integrates game design with the needs of rehabilitation participants.

How does winning the BC Graduate Scholarship help your research?

The BC Graduate Scholarship will crucially support me through the final stretch of my PhD research. With this award, I will be able to focus other resources on enriching our research on rehabilitation games.

What do you like to do outside of academia?

I always enjoy cooking a good meal as a creative outlet. Spending time outdoors with my dog has been wonderful for staying active. And of course I like a good game here and there.

Olivia Tsihlias Awarded the Syd Vernon Graduate Student Award

Congratulations to Olivia Tsihlias for being awarded the Syd Vernon Graduate Student Award as part of the 2022 Spring Awards competition! The Syd Vernon Fund for the Disabled supports charitable organizations for the betterment of persons with mental, physical or sensory disabilities. The Fund also supports the advancement of education for those persons committed to working with people with disabilities and their families.

Tell us a little bit about your lab/ What type of research are you conducting?

As a trainee in the Zwicker Lab at BC Children’s Hospital, our research focuses on brain development in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). DCD is a common but under-recognized neurodevelopmental disorder affecting one in 20 children. DCD significantly impacts a child’s ability to learn and execute motor skills such as printing, tying shoelaces, or riding a bicycle. Specifically, my research focuses on preterm children with DCD and analyses brain structure and motor outcomes before and after rehabilitation intervention.

What award did you win, and how will this help your research?

I am honoured and very grateful to receive the Syd Vernon Graduate Student Award. This award will allow me to have more balance in my school/work/life schedule and ultimately increase my research output and exploration for DCD in the preterm population.

What do you like to do outside of academia?

Living in Vancouver has been amazing! I am able to keep active year-round while enjoying my favourite activities. In the warmer months, I love playing soccer, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. In the colder months, you can find me enjoying BC’s beautiful ski hills.


VCH Top Graduating Doctoral Student & Rising Star Award Recipients

Join us in congratulating Jesse Charlton, recipient of VCH’s 2022 Top Graduating Doctoral Student Award, and Cristina Rubino, recipient of VCH’s 2022 Rising Star Award!

These awards recognize outstanding efforts by VCHRI trainees for research excellence, service as role models and other contributions that each has made to benefit the Vancouver Coastal Health research community.

You can read about their accomplishments and their research at the VCH announcement:

Congratulations, Jesse and Cristina, on your wonderful achievements.


Canada Graduate Scholarships-Masters Recipients

Congratulations to Julia Dahlby and Niloufar Benam for being awarded the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS-M)! The CGS-M is awarded to high-calibre scholars to help develop their research skills and assists in the training of highly qualified personnel. As recipients of this award administered by CIHR, Julia and Niloufar have the opportunity to fully concentrate on their Master’s studies.

Julia Dahlby

Julia is an MSc student supervised by Dr. Lara Boyd in the Brain Behaviour Lab. This lab examines how the human brain recovers from various types of injury and illness through a variety of methods including motor testing, neural imaging, and cognitive testing.

Julia’s research focuses on examining the relationship between pre-stroke hand grip strength, stroke severity, and sex using data from the UK Biobank. The study’s findings could be used to prescribe preventative interventions and enable better outcomes for Canadian women with stroke.

Outside of academia, Julia works as a physiotherapist at Tall Tree on Commercial Drive treating patients with various musculoskeletal conditions. In her personal time, Julia can be found in the outdoors either skiing or climbing, or at home relaxing and painting.



Niloufar Benam

Niloufar is an MSc student supervised by Dr. Julia Schmidt in the Collaborative Evidence: Developing Awareness and Research (CEDAR) Brain Injury Lab. This lab focuses on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and its effects on individuals’ daily lives. There is a diverse range of research being completed at the CEDAR lab. Some include qualitative studies focusing on the experience of individuals and changes in their self-identity and self-awareness after TBI. There are also projects exploring different rehabilitation methods using virtual reality technology to improve outcomes after TBI.

Niloufar’s research focuses on brain activation patterns after TBI using functional near infra-red spectroscopy (fNIRS). This project aims to understand differences between brain activation patterns between individuals with TBI and healthy controls when completing an everyday activity like getting dressed. The portability of fNIRS allows for brain activation patterns to be studied during real-life tasks of dressing in the unconstrained and natural state as opposed to in neuroimaging tools such as fMRI that require individuals to remain in a supine position during imaging. +

When not working on projects in the lab, you can catch Niloufar painting, playing some ukulele, singing, and baking or cooking different types of cuisines. You might also find Niloufar wandering around the city on extra-long walks!


View all of our funding opportunities.


Rehabilitation Sciences’ doctoral students, Christy Jones, Oladele Atoyebi, and Gordon Tao has been awarded a Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF)

The Four Year Doctoral Fellowship program will ensure UBC’s best PhD students are provided with financial support of at least $18,000 per year plus tuition for a maximum of four years of their PhD studies or until the end of their 5th years, whichever comes first.

Rehabilitation Sciences’ master’s student, Jeanette Boily, featured in lead story in Research Insider, the newsletter of the VCH Research Institute










Relieving the pressure: easing pain for bed-bound patients