PhD in Psychology – THESIS STREAM
Research adviser: Dawn Good
Program entry date: Fall 2017
The overarching goal of my research is to facilitate community integration among neurologically compromised populations (e.g., individuals with a history of head injury, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, etc.) and advance pathways to care by improving our understanding of underlying neural mechanisms. My master’s research contributed to this goal by focusing on mild traumatic brain injuries in sports and how they can impact one’s ability to understand others’ emotions and one’s capacity for empathy. My Doctoral research will expand on this experience and aims to develop a deeper understanding of children and youth with complex mental health challenges (i.e., multiple diagnoses, treatment-resistant challenges, etc.). At present, this population is underrepresented in research and underserved by the mental health system and I am eager to address this gap in the field by taking a neuropsychological approach and exploring brain-behaviour relationships.
What are your tips for thriving in grad school?
First and foremost, I would encourage all graduate students to ask questions and be curious – graduate school is all about learning and everyone here wants to help you succeed. Likewise, I recommend going to conferences and professional development events, as these experiences can result in interesting conversations with colleagues from across the world, new opportunities and collaborations, and new insights that will help you grow as a researcher and as a person. I think it’s also important to get to know other graduate students – in your cohort, in your program, and from other universities. Graduate students have valuable information to share and can be a great resource for graduate-specific questions. Engaging with others who share similar circumstances can also be comforting and provide reassurance that you can overcome any challenges you are facing.
What were the best parts of your experience at Brock? Why?
Having the opportunity to share my research with the general community and knowledge-users has been the best part of my experience at Brock. As a researcher in the field of traumatic brain injury (TBI), I feel it’s incredibly important to share my findings with individuals living with the effects of TBI and their families in the hopes of improving their understanding of the social, emotional, and cognitive barriers they may experience and the ways that they can minimize those barriers and successfully reintegrate into their communities. I have had the opportunity to do this through several community-based conferences, clinical placements, and the 3-minute thesis competition and I hope to continue to share my research with the community in the future.
How is being a graduate student different from being an undergraduate student?
As a graduate student, you can explore an area in depth and focus on the topics that you are particularly interested in; this is a shift from life as an undergraduate student because you’re able to tailor your education to meet your own needs. Further, as a graduate student, learning is a more collaborative and participative process which not only helps you to understand theories and concepts, but also helps you to gain the skills that you will need in your future career.