October 2017 Trainee Spotlight
Graduate student PhD.
Year of study:
Program of study:
Why did you choose to come to the Douglas?
Ever since I first started my academic career I’ve known that I wanted to study the neurobiological basis of depression. Wanting to work with humans, I was immediately attracted to my supervisor’s research program on depression and suicide. I choose to come to the Douglas to be able to do this type of meaningful work and have access to post-mortem human brain samples through our research institute’s brain bank.
What did you do before coming to the Douglas? (e.g. studies, employment, travel, which university, etc.)
Prior to graduate school I completed a HBSc in Physiology and Psychology at the University of Toronto. I was also involved in various suicide support centers across the Greater Toronto area.
Sell your research in 3 sentences (or less)
Early life is characterized by a heightened sensitivity and ability of the brain to change in response to the developing child’s environment. Adverse experiences during this period, therefore, have the potential to lead to negative psychological outcomes all the way into adulthood. The goal of my research is to understand how severe childhood abuse results in cell-type specific epigenetic changes in prefrontal pyramidal neurons of individuals who were depressed and died by suicide.
What excites you most about your research?
The thing that excites me most about research is that I’m actively creating knowledge that may one day be used to inform clinical care of patients suffering with a mental illness.
If you could go back in time and give your “younger self” advice, what would you do differently?
If I could go back in time to when I first started graduate school I’d tell my younger self to think big and ask questions that address current limitations of the field. It was only further along into my graduate training that I’ve really began to understand this concept.
Please share any additional experiences or advice that you’d like to share with prospective Douglas trainees.
I think that the best advice I can give to future trainees is to remember that during the lows of research, where nothing seems to be working, you should think positively and know that everyday brings you closer to answering the big questions in your field. The feeling of accomplishment that your future self will experience outweighs all of the trials and tribulations your past self endured.