I am currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Investigator at the BC Children’s Research Institute. My research is motivated by my past clinical work as a pediatric nurse specialist in acute pain and builds upon my doctoral (2012; Dr. Celeste Johnston, McGill) and post-doctoral (2012-16, Dr. Ruth E. Grunau, UBC) research on pain related-stress in developing fragile infants. The expansion of my research interest to early-stress exposure, such as maternal separation, was enabled by my recent experience as Research Scientist in the division of Developmental Neuroscience at Columbia University (2017-18; Drs. Welch and Myers, PIs).
My translational research program integrates preclinical investigations with clinical studies in preterm neonates undergoing intensive neonatal care to uncover mechanisms of vulnerability to early adversity (e.g. stress/pain, maternal separation, related treatments) in relation to brain development. I also investigate and test methods to mitigate the adverse effects of these undesirable events. I strongly believe that using an integrated approach combining basic science models and clinical research significantly improves our understanding of the complexities associated with early-stress exposure in the context of preterm birth and extended neonatal intensive care experience. This is at the forefront of my research.
My history with ISDP is somewhat short-lived partially due to my long-standing commitment to the pain field (e.g. International Society for the Study of Pain, Pain In Child Health). However, in the past few years, my interest has expanded to early-life stressors and their impact on brain development, which has brought me to the ISDP community. I believe that my unique background and valuable combined set of skills and knowledge complements and enriches the outstanding ISDP community of researchers, scholars, clinician scientists, and trainees. As Secretary-elect and junior faculty member of ISDP, I wish to attract to the Society more international members, especially trainees, from broader fields such as nursing, neurobiology, nutritional genomics and metabolomics, evolutionary biology, and experimental medicine. This will foster new cross-disciplinary collaborations and ultimately advance the field of developmental neuroscience.