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2019 Ward Summer Students
The Bloorview Research Institute welcomes its new students; bids a fond farewell to its alumni

There’s a mixed-bag of emotions at the start of any new beginning.  This is no different for Holland Bloorview’s Research Institute (BRI), where the students who called the BRI home are taking off and leaving our nest.  It’s the start of a new school year and that means time to say goodbye to our current students, but also hello to a new crop of eager scholars who will be joining the BRI’s terrific team all dedicated to guiding and mentoring each student who walks through their doors.

The BRI takes great pride in its capacity to train and celebrate the next generation of childhood disability researchers.  Last year, we trained 170 research students.  As a top 40 research hospital in Canada, Holland Bloorview is proud to collaborate with the University of Toronto to support the academic growth of future leaders in childhood disability research.

Dear Ward Summer Students: good luck in your future endeavours!

The Ward Summer Student Research Program provides the opportunity for college and university undergraduate students, as well as medical school students, to experience a unique interdisciplinary mentorship experience.  Every year, the program attracts top talent from across the country and abroad and is made possible by through the Ward Family’s generous support.  This year, over 1,600 applications were received for a unique interdisciplinary mentorship experience at BRI. 

On July 23, 2019, the students presented their research to a full house of staff, families, trainees, researchers and clinicians for the 13th annual Ward Summer Student Research Day. 

2019 Ward Summer Students

The 2019 Ward Summer Student Research Day winners are:

Research Presentation winner: Emma Bohn

Quick Hit Presentation winner: Laura Wheeler

Poster Presentation winner: Polina Kosareva

2019 Ward Summer Students

Greetings students!

The BRI is proud to offer several graduate student awards to encourage young researchers to pursue an exciting and rewarding career in the field of childhood disability. The Graduate Student Scholarship Awards include the Kimel Graduate Scholarships (made possible due to the generous contributions of the Kimel Family Fund), the “Whipper” Watson Graduate Research Studentship Award (funded in the memory of “Whipper” Billy Watson, a Toronto wrestler known for his charitable work for children with disabilities), and the Holland Bloorview Foundation Graduate Student Awards. 

We are proud to announce the recipients of the 2019-2020 BRI Graduate Student Awards.  Award recipients submitted research proposals that were relevant to the clients and families at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and concordant with the mission of the hospital and BRI.

Congratulations to the 2019 recipients who will be joining us for the 2019-2020 year.

The recipients of the Kimel Family Graduate Student Scholarships in Pediatric Disability Research ($20,000) are:

Katherine Stover
The Role of Early Intervention on Disruptive Behaviour in Toddlers with ASD: Identifying Predictors

What do you want people to know most about real-life implications that research – including yours – can have?

I think research can feel very detached from the real world, particularly for families who are desperate for answers and support. It is important to understand that it is the attention to detail in research that helps us build a more complete understanding of different issues such as brain injuries, persistent pain, and complex disorders such as ASD. For example, my research looks at whether there is a connection between social communication skills and disruptive behaviors in toddlers with ASD. While this topic might seem quite removed from actual intervention work, it is my hope that it will strengthen our understanding of the efficacy of different intervention practices and provide more evidence to support the funding of early intervention programs.

Vanessa Tomas                     
Addressing an Important Gap in the Literature by Developing, Implementing and Evaluating a Knowledge Translation (KT) Toolkit for Youth with ASD to Enhance Their Self-Determination, Social Support, Inclusion and Disclosure Processes within the Workplace

What got you interested in childhood disability research?

My interest in childhood disability research resulted from my Master’s education. I graduated with a Masters in Rehabilitation Science in April 2019. This degree allowed me to learn and grow as a rehabilitation science researcher and confirmed my interests to continue in the field of childhood disability research.

The recipients of the Kimel Family Graduate Student Scholarships in Pediatric Rehabilitation ($20,000) are:

Calvin Ngan                             
Fabricating Pediatric Prosthesis Using Additive and Digital Technologies

What are you career aspirations?

My biggest dream is to join World Health Organization or Red Cross, work in third world countries to experience and understand what low income populations with physical disabilities need in order to empower the less fortunate and restore their independence and dignity through creative designs and medical care.  The way I envision the future, an engineer is not merely a job to design a piece of equipment or conduct research on an artificial material, but a rewarding career that can contribute and make an impact in the society. Therefore, I would dedicate the rest of my career to continue down that path.

Karly Franz                              
Investigating the Effects of Live Feedback on a Communication Partner’s Mental State

What got you interested in childhood disability research?

My first year at Holland Bloorview fundamentally shifted my outlook on childhood disability. Meeting clients, hearing from family leaders and learning about their experiences exposed a need for communication devices that can give children with disability the opportunity to fully express themselves, share their internal strength, and unique life perspective with others.  This need to bridge the gap between brain-computer interface research and enhance communication for children with disability is what inspired me to pursue my research.

The recipient of the Whipper Watson Graduate Student Award ($10,000) is:

Lauren Saly                             
Teaching Educators about Acquired Brain Injury: A Healthier Classroom for All

What are your career aspirations?

I plan to pursue a career as a teacher/scientist, conducting research to improve outcomes for children and youth, with a focus on children with disabilities, within the education system. It is my desire to make changes within the education system to support the success of, and positive experiences for, children with disabilities through implementing research-based practices and improving teacher training.

The recipients of the Holland Bloorview Foundation Graduate Student Scholarship Awards ($10,000) are:

Daniela Chan-Viquez          
Videogaming for Home-Based Rehabilitation for Young People with Cerebral Palsy: a Study with a Family-Centred Approach

What got you interested in childhood disability research?

Since I was a clinician in my home country, I have always worked with children. After six years of clinical practice I had some questions regarding how we really know, that what we are doing in the clinical setting is really making a difference? I decided then I wanted to take a step forward and pursue a career in research focused on childhood disability, specially related to children with Cerebral Palsy.

Danielle DuPlessis                
R2Play & Clinician Needs: Fostering User-Driven Technology that Supports Return-to-Play Decision Making

What inspires you?

My daily involvement in with the disability community has served as an inspiration to me, opening my eyes to some of the challenges of living with disability and the critical importance of rehabilitation. Currently, I am playing with the women’s national wheelchair basketball team at the Para Pan Am games in Lima, Peru, and I am hopeful that I will represent Canada at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan. I am so inspired by my teammates and their accomplishments in para-sport, academics, humanitarianism, and many other spheres.