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Screen shot of Bloorview Research Institute's Ward summer students
Celebrating a summer of success

The 16th Ward Summer Student Research Day

For the 16th year in a row, the Bloorview Research Institute’s (BRI) Ward Family Summer Student Research Program held its annual Research Day.

Twenty undergraduate students—selected out of over 1,800 applicants from coast to coast—presented their innovative research to the Holland Bloorview community.

The Ward Summer Student Program gives undergraduate students a chance to spend 12 weeks working with research labs at the BRI.

This year’s cohort—the largest to date—delved deep into topics like 3D-printed sockets for upper limbs, building an Indigenous framework relating to brain-computer interface technology, and understanding how arts-based programming can help foster friendships.

Their research was then showcased at the annual Research Day, which was hosted by Dr. Tom Chau, the Vice President of Research and Director at the BRI, and Mani Kang, the Director of Research Operations and Business Development at the BRI.

Awards were also handed out, which included:

Best Research Poster award recipients:

  • Katrina Meng, University of Toronto
  • Grace Reszetnik, McGill University

Best Oral Presentation award recipient:

  • Emily Eng, McMaster University

We also spoke to a couple of the students, as well as a scientist and judge, to expand on why the research program is crucial—not just for the students, but for the disability community as a whole.

Shaelynn Hsu (Honours Biomedical Sciences, York University)

“My experience during the program was enriching as I had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Lindsay and other graduate and post-doc researchers who mentored me through various stages of research. I was also given the opportunity to be involved in various projects within the lab which allowed me to see some of the 'next steps' of our research, such as the development of a toolkit which aids youth in the disclosure process at work.

I hope to continue research in the future focusing on youth with disabilities' experiences to understand more of their lived experiences when transitioning to adulthood and taking this information to develop client-centred programs, tools and interventions.”

Katrina Meng (Mechanical Engineering, University of Toronto)

“I really enjoyed being able to work with Dr. Andrysek, and other like-minded students who are equally as passionate and excited about our work. It has inspired me to keep looking for opportunities which align with my interests and to trust the path that I am on, despite external pressures. On a more technical note, it was a great opportunity to explore new technologies which have the potential to improve others’ lives at Holland Bloorview and beyond. I was able to see the functionality of 3D printers and push my knowledge, and the printers, in ways I hadn't imagined before. Through various tests and sockets we printed, I learned that tools can be used in ways different than intended, in order to achieve a goal.”

Dr. Sally Lindsay (Senior Scientist, Bloorview Research Institute)

“It's exciting to see all of the great work being done in childhood disability and the enthusiasm that the students have for this area of research. Every year I am amazed at how much work students complete within the 12-week program. And, as always, this year it was clear to see that the students clearly have a passion for this field of research and genuinely want to help make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities.”

Shauna Kingsnorth (Manager, Evidence to Care & a Clinical Study Investigator, BRI)

“The Ward Family Summer Student Research Program offers students a unique opportunity to see childhood disability research in action and directly impact it with their contributions as part of a research team. We know from our own programs of research here at the hospital that immersive, learning-focused, socially-rich programs like this one can be transformational for young people. Our best hope is that students leave the program and see a future for themselves in this field!”


If you couldn’t attend, you can watch all the individual student research presentations or the entire event here.

The program is sponsored by the Ward Family Foundation, with specialized streams sponsored by CIBC.