"The world needs you to think big": STEM-spiration from Holland Bloorview
"The world needs you to think big": STEM-spiration from Holland Bloorview

February 11, 2017 marks the second annual United Nations' International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to highlight the incredible feats of female scientists, research students, trainees, and health professionals. Learn more about the day

Diversity is a core value at Holland Bloorview which extends deeply into the heart of its research institute. In the spirit of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, voices have been raised, sharing words of wisdom, empowerment, and reflection, on the value and impact of women and girls in science.

Jessica Brian, clinician investigator and psychologist


What motivates you:

My main inspirations are the children and their families. I love asking questions, challenging assumptions, and the way the scientific method supports these efforts. I see my field (psychology) as the perfect harmony between narratives and numbers.

What would you say to women and girls just beginning to explore the field of science:

You have so much to offer the world of science! Trust your instincts, challenge authority and ask those important questions.


Julia Gray, post-doctoral fellow in the Critical Disability and Rehabilitation Studies Lab

How you came to work in science:

Istarted working in the arts as a playwright and theatre director and found myway to health research and science through arts-based knowledgetranslation. As an artist, I was interested to use my skills as a way to open up conversations withcommunity members about misconceptions and injustices in the world. Thiswork led me to collaborate with health researchers on arts-based knowledgetranslation projects which opened up all sorts of questions for meabout how arts and sciences come together, as well as the ways people make artand what that means for people’s lives, how they express themselves and whatthat means for people’s health more broadly. I recently trained in socialscience (PhD at UofT) to expand my tool kit to be able to study these things. I’m thrilled to be at Holland Bloorview to be able to explore how we can use the arts to engage the broader public in conversations aboutmisconceptions about kids living with disability, and to look at the ways kidswith disabilities express themselves to others and make art in rehabilitationsettings.


What makes someone successful in the field of science:

Do not be afraid to be curious. Have the confidence tobe curious and know that there are differentways to show it; the obvious way is to ask questions, but listening, observing, mentoring undersomeone is equally important as it allows you the space to inquire and explore, and learn. Collaboration is also vital in today’s world and workplace.



Arezoo Eshraghi, post-doctoral fellow



What is your passion for science?

Rehabilitation is my passion. Before being a scientist and researcher, I am a clinician who has worked for years with those in need of prosthetic and orthotics services. My clients are my biggest motivation; their will to stay strong and get stronger; the smiles on their faces; their incredible spirit - all inspire me to believe I am following the right path. Above all, it is beautiful how engineering and medicine go hand in hand to make the world a better place, to create a world of possibility!


What should women and girls new to the field/in school know about science?

Be yourself, follow your passion, never underestimate your power and ideas. Believe that you can make a difference and you will make a difference. Don't see failure as a weakness, for it is only the beginning of your next success. Spice your scientific work with kindness, love and care and you will see it will make the world a better place for all. My secret is Be Positive to Attract the Positive and Make the Positive.


Pam Green, clinical team investigator, nurse practitioner

What inspired you to work in science:

My inspiration was my 5th Grade Science teacher who made experiments fun and encouraged the class to predict outcomes. The barriers to care in our system and family resiliency despite those barriers motivate me to change the system. My students also motivate me to share a passion for learning and mentorship.


What message do you want to share with others in the field?

You have a unique view of the world. Let others know what you think needs to be changed to make a better world for children and their families. Share your passion and knowledge and be a mentor in the future.


Golda Milo-Manson, vice president of medicine and academic affairs, developmental pediatrician, associate professor of pediatrics at University of Toronto



What inspired you to work in science:

I have always enjoyed science (maybe not physics, however!) and wanted to work with kids. I loved being a camp counselor and believed that combining my passion for science and kids would be perfect. I also had great role models.


What do you want women and girls to know about the field of science, and in childhood disability:

I want them to know that, with passion and hard work, options are limitless. Working in childhood disability has been the best career choice for me, because it means loving coming to work every day.



Krissy Doyle-Thomas, research associate in the Autism Research Centre, and manager of research operations in the Bloorview Research Institute



What drives you:

Through research, I explore innovative and unanswered questions around medical conditions and treatments. Pushing the envelope, and conceptualizing new ways to help others with a disability, motivates me.

What one message do you want to pass on to those starting their careers in science:

The world needs you to think big and not be afraid to try new things. Never underestimate yourself. Within your mind might be the next revolutionary treatment for a medical condition that is yet to be fully understood.


Tamara Yee, post-doctoral fellow

How have families inspired your work in science:

I completed my PhD in medicalsciences after my clinical trainingto improve the lives ofchildren and families I had the pleasure to work with, specifically aroundsocial participation and autism. I always loved when parents asked me questionsand enjoyed the process of searching for answers. I continue to learn so muchfrom different family experiences, and by working together with professionalsand families, I can see how we’ve made a change in our community.


Science is...:

Science is a team sport and youget to work with many passionate and diverse individuals. Also, I love beingcreative, and have enjoyed incorporating images, such as infographics, into myresearch program.



Joanne Wincentak, knowledge broker in evidence to care and registered occupational therapist



What drives your scientific interests?

Curiosity. I'm motivated by wanting to understand how things work, and using that knowledge to problem solve.


Women and girls in the field of science, should:

Put yourself out there! Share your ideas, ask your questions - that's what ensures science continues to make a real-world impact.



Gloria Lee, research coordinator


What motivates you to pursue a career in science?

Being able to connect with so many clients and their families each day and to hear how we’re making a difference in their lives, no matter how small, is truly rewarding. They inspire me to keep asking questions and to keep pushing for answers! Every day is a new adventure with new challenges, which bring new partnerships and, best of all, new potential!


What should women and girls new to the field of science know?

Challenge yourself to try new things. Let your confidence and passion shine through in everything you do. If you’re ever unsure, don’t be afraid to ask questions and never feel like you are “bothering” someone when you do. Experts in the field are experts because they love their work, and certainly love talking about it. Just go for it!



Anne Hunt, manager, student training program in Holland Bloorview's concussion centre, clinical study investigator and assistant professor at University of Toronto



What inspired you to pursue a career in science?

My son had a challenging and prolonged recovery from concussion. As a mom, scientist, and occupational therapist, I recognized that the treatments at that time were focused on limiting activities and what kids can't do. This was often very isolating and depressing for kids, especially active ones. This experience inspired me to focus my research on developing more active treatment approaches that focus instead on what kids can do following concussion. My motivation continues to be helping kids with concussion feel better.

What do you want women and girls to know about pursuing a career in science?

It is never too late to pursue your passions, or your goals. Your work matters, and you can make a significant difference to the lives of others through research.



Laura Hartman, post-doctoral fellow