Skip to main content
small white wavewhite wavelarge white wave

Research Day

Each summer, the Ward Family Summer Student Research Program attracted students from universities from all over Canada to collaborate alongside some of the brightest minds in  childhood disability research in the world.

These budding young scientists are embedded in Bloorview Research Institute's research labs such as the Autism Research Centre, the CP Discovery Lab and the PRISM Lab to help researchers unlock a world of possibilities for children and youth with disabilities.

The final highlight of the program is the opportunity for these talented students to showcase their research at the annual Research Day and compete for the best research poster and best oral presentation.

This year, Research Day was held virtually on Tuesday, July 20. 

The winner for best research poster is Danielle Nicolardi, Western University, Honours Specialization in Health Sciences.

The winners for best oral presentation are: Alanna Jane, Queen's University, Medicine, and Sophie Weaver, Western University, Honours Specialization in Kinesiology.

Missed the event? You can watch it here.

Watch all the student research presentations here.

The program is generously supported by the Ward Family Foundation and CIBC.

 

Event Agenda:

9 to 9:15 a.m.:Welcome Remarks
9:15 to 9:45 a.m.:First round of student research presentations with Q&A, Kahoot game
9:45 to 10:15 a.m.:Virtual Research Poster Session
10:15 to 10:45 a.m.:Second round of student research presentations with Q&A, Kahoot game
10:45 to 11:00 a.m.:Awards ceremony and closing remarks

Ward Student Research Profiles and Presentations

Poster #1 - Ethan Dhanraj

University and Program: McMaster University, Biomedical & Software Engineering

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Tom Chau, PRISM Lab

Presentation: Brain-Controlled Virtual Music Instruments for Children

Bio:

Ethan Dhanraj is pursuing a B.Eng.BME in biomedical and software engineering at McMaster University. He is interested in developing technology that can improve and expand health care, accessibility, and athletics. At university, Ethan has completed several projects focused on software development and the design and implementation of medical devices. Ethan will begin his fourth year of undergraduate studies this fall and has enjoyed an educational and immersive introduction to research in the PRISM Lab at Holland Bloorview this summer.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/9sA1GP-4pOQ

Poster #2 - Vaishnavi Bhamidi

University and Program: Western Universty, Medical Sciences

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Tom Chau, PRISM Lab

Presentation: Measuring Brain Synchronization Between Children and their Parents while Drawing Pictures

Bio:

Vaishnavi Bhamidi is a third-year undergraduate student at Western University studying Medical Sciences. As a Ward Summer Student, she is working with PhD candidate Karly Franz in the PRISM Lab, led by Dr. Tom Chau, on a project exploring cognitive and behavioural synchrony between parents and children with ASD. Vaishnavi’s prior research experience includes characterizing longitudinal breast cancer mortality trends in collaboration with the Stanford School of Medicine. She adores working with children and enjoys volunteering with Kids Help Phone. In her free time, Vaishnavi can be found on a walk around her beautiful Mississauga neighborhood or reading a good book with a cup of something warm.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/5g35XLYycSA

Poster #3 - Feny Pandya

University and Program: McMaster University, Biology & Psychology, Neuroscience, Behaviour

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Tom Chau, PRISM Lab

Presentation: Determining the Correspondence Between Covert Speech and Speech Perception

Bio:

Feny graduated from McMaster University, majoring in Biology and Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (Honours B.Sc.). She will begin her Master's program in Biomedical Engineering (M.Eng) at the University of Toronto this fall. Feny is very thankful for the knowledge acquired from her undergrad and the presented opportunity as a Ward summer student in the PRISM Lab. She hopes to further expand her horizons by focusing her learning on applications of BME in neuroscience (BCIs, neural engineering). Feny aims to help bridge the gap between modern medicine and engineering and help develop solutions for a plethora of medical conditions. 

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/ilzEoAukOCI

Poster #4 - Rachel Willis

University and Program: Queen's University, Life Sciences

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Darcy Fehlings, CP Discovery Lab

Presentation: Exploring the experiences of children, parents and therapists participating in a group cognitive behavioural pain management program for children and youth with CP

Bio:

Rachel Willis recently graduated from Queen’s University, where she majored in Life Sciences with a specialization in Neuroscience. This summer she joined the CP Discovery Lab as a Ward Summer Research Student. Her summer project looks at the feasibility of a group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) pain management program for children with CP who experience chronic pain, and their parents. Rachel has directed her focus to explore the experiences of children, parents and therapists in CBT program through analysis of qualitative interviews. She is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to peruse her interest in pediatric disability research in this amazing program.

Research Poster Presentation:

 https://youtu.be/LVO3kOQo2TM

Poster #5 - Sarah Qureshi

University and Program: University of Toronto, Health Sciences and Public Policy

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Timothy Ross, EPIC Lab

Presentation: Housing Design Interventions and their Impacts on Quality of Life for Youth and Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A Scoping Review

Bio:

Sarah is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto, double majoring in Health Science and Public Policy. She joined the EPIC lab as a summer ward student and is conducting a scoping review on how housing design interventions impact the quality of life for youth and adults with developmental disabilities. Her research interests include health equity, infectious diseases, institutional ableism, education access, housing and development, and public policy. Sarah aims to focus her work on narrowing existing health disparities between and within diverse populations. In her free time, she enjoys participating in a variety of community-based endeavours.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/o3x993HCE8Y

Poster #6 - Ronessa Dass

University and Program: Carleton University, Cognitive Science with a concentration in neuroscience

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Deryk Beal, CONNECT Lab

Presentation: Efficacy of Non-Pharmacological Persistent Pain Treatments for Youth Ages 6 to 21 with Mental Health Comorbidities (Systematic Review)

Bio:

Ronessa Dass is a fourth-year undergraduate cognitive science student at Carleton University. This summer, she is working in the CONNECT lab under the supervision of Dr. Deryk Beal and Dr. Anna Tendera. Her current project is a systematic review investigating the efficacy of non-pharmacological interventions on youth with persistent pain and mental health comorbidities. Ronessa’s personal experiences with persistent pain drive her passion to conduct research that improves the lives of individuals living with persistent pain. As part of her goal to promote equitable and accessible healthcare, Ronessa is committed to performing efficient knowledge dissemination for the general public. 

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/75i1Jfv21cg

Poster # 7 - Alanna Jane

University and Program: Queen's University, Medicine

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Melanie Penner, Autism Research Centre

Presentation: A qualitative analysis of the recommendations from Project ECHO Ontario Autism

Bio:

Alanna Jane (pronouns: she/her) is entering her third year of Medicine at Queen's University, and is a recent University of Ottawa graduate in Health Sciences. She is interested in the fields of Pediatrics and Family Medicine, and has a strong interest in learning about and working with children with developmental disabilities, especially Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has previous experience with research in health sciences and medicine across a variety of patient populations. Finally, she is passionate about planetary health, sustainability in medicine, and health equity.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/gQfcaTj3b1g

Poster #8 - Alexandra Colville-Reeves

University and Program: McMaster University, Mechatronics & Biomedical Engineering

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Jan Andrysek, PROPEL Lab

Presentation: A wearable sensor system to assess walking symmetry in individuals with lower limb impairments

Bio:

Alexandra is entering her third year of Biomedical and Mechatronics Engineering at McMaster University. This summer in the PROPEL Lab she is focusing in the field of biomechanics, working on project that is developing a wearable gait analysis system for individuals with lower limb impairments. This project involves a combination of software development, interfacing with wearable sensors and signal analysis. Through her academics she hopes to continue studying and working with wearable devices and their applications in the fields of childhood disability research and biomedicine.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/q7Omez2jiRc

Poster #9 - Joelle Li

University and Program: McMaster University, Health Sciences

Supervisor: Dr. Gillian King 

Presentation: Virtual spaces for the formation of friendships involving children and youth with disabilities: A scoping review

Bio:

Children and youth with disabilities experience a greater risk of social isolation. Additionally, society has become increasingly digital; a trend sped up by COVID-19. Therefore, there is a need to focus on how to design virtual spaces that are optimally conducive to initiating and maintaining social connections for children and youth with disabilities. My project aims to outline strategies that can inform the design of, and access to, virtual spaces and experiences that afford opportunities to form friendships for children and youth with diverse disabilities. This review may guide service providers and organizations on the design of friendship-oriented online spaces.
 

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/OeUlBoXMnUU

Poster #10 - Maria Becerra

University and Program: University of Waterloo, Psychology, Biophysics Minor

Supervisor: Dr. Gillian King

Presentation: Friendship and social connection online: The experiences of children and youth with disabilities

Bio:

Maria Becerra is a Psychology student entering her final year of study at the University of Waterloo. Her work at Holland Bloorview focuses on the online friendship experiences of children and youth with disabilities. Recent research shows that online platforms such as social media, online multiplayer games, and mobile applications have potential for fostering social connection and friendship. As children and youth with disabilities often experience greater social isolation, loneliness, and mental health concerns, her work seeks to examine the potential of online platforms as another avenue for them to connect with others. 

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/yD-_YsoX9ls

Poster #11 - Marina Charalampopoulou

University and Program: University of Toronto, Psychology

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, Autism Research Centre

Presentation: The Impact of Educational And Health Services On The Mental Health Status Changes Of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Bio:

Marina Charalampopoulou is currently in her final year of a BSc, Psychology Specialist, at the University of Toronto. As part of her involvement at the Ward Summer Student Research Program, she was exposed to the realm of neurodevelopmental research and has been captivated by it. After working in several labs and exploring different disciplines within psychology – such as developmental, social, cognitive, addiction, and clinical – she has realized her passion for psychological research. Moreover, in her experience as a suicide line responder and emotional support volunteer, she has come to know her passion for counselling. Upon graduating, she wishes to combine these interests and pursue a career in clinical psychology with a developmental focus.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/cIQURIwefqM

Poster #12 - Hamshi Suganthan

University and Program: University of Toronto, Engineering Science

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Azadeh Kushki, Autism Research Centre

Presentation: The Patterns and Impacts of Technology Use in Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Bio:

Hamshi Suganthan is a second-year Engineering Science student with a focus in Biomedical Systems at the University of Toronto. Her passion for biomedical engineering was cultivated through years of volunteering at healthcare facilities, such as the Fudger House and St. Michael’s Hospital. She is currently exploring the patterns and impacts of screen time in children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) under Dr. Azadeh Kushki at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s Autism Research Centre (ARC). Hamshi possesses a keen interest in engineering application to neural rehabilitation and regenerative diseases that align with clinical, cell and tissue, and molecular engineering.
 

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/rHzQW5Qb3ik

Poster #13 - Felicia Liu

University and Program: University of Toronto, Engineering Science

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Azadeh Kushki, Autism Research Centre

Presentation: Examining the association between temperament, emotion regulation, and anxiety in children and youth with autism spectrum disorder

Bio:

Felicia Liu is an undergraduate student motivated to pursue the biomedical option in the Engineering Science Program at the University of Toronto. She aspires to pursue participatory research in clinical engineering, engaging with people to understand who they are in order to personalise interventions and design products which are truly impactful. Felicia’s eager to explore tailoring diagnostic equipment to be more representative of each unique person and their circumstances, as well as developing assistive technology adapting to accommodate the specific needs of its user. Her hopes are to cultivate learning, technology, and innovation to better help and care for people.

Research Poster Presentation:

 https://youtu.be/cMfIcM-G2es

Poster #14 - Sara Marshall

 

University and Program: McMaster University, Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Shannon Scratch, NOvEL Lab

Presentation: Adapting the Teach-ABI eLearning Module for High School Educators

Bio:

Sara is a Ward Summer Research Student working in the NOvEL Lab under the supervision of Dr. Shannon Scratch. Her main project aims to adapt an eLearning module to teach high school educators about acquired brain injury. Sara recently graduated from McMaster University, obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour with a Minor in Music. She is excited to move to Montreal in September and start a position teaching English to elementary students. Sara aspires to work with children as a School and Clinical Psychologist, and she will be applying to graduate programs in the fall.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/XZzR-ZGxM-w

Poster #15 - Spencer Arshinoff

University and Program: McMaster University, Integrated Science w/ Concentration in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Azadeh Kushki, Autism Research Centre

Presentation: Do sensory differences in autism spectrum disorder help explain emotional dysregulation and anxiety in children?

Bio:

Spencer Arshinoff is entering his fourth year of Honours Integrated Science at McMaster University, where he is concentrating in Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour. This summer, Spencer is working on a project investigating the role of emotion regulation and sensory sensitivity in co-morbid anxiety in autism spectrum disorder, under the supervision of Dr. Azadeh Kushki. He is also soon-to-be Senior Editor of the iScientist, an interdisciplinary undergraduate scientific journal, and a volunteer at McMaster Student Accessibility Services. He hopes to go into psychology research, and is thankful for his opportunity to explore the world of psychology research at Holland Bloorview.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/zJUALn3X5po

Poster #16 - Sophie Weaver

University and Program: Western University, Honours Specialization in Kinesiology

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Tim Ross, EPIC Lab

Presentation: The Design and Experience of Play Spaces in Pediatric Healthcare Environments

Bio:

Sophie just graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology. She will be entering her first year of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program at the University of Toronto in the fall. Her previous research at Western University focused on the physical literacy of women with experiences of disability in Sub-Saharan Africa and her current research at Holland Bloorview focuses on the experiences and design of play spaces in pediatric health care settings. She hopes to learn more in the future about childrens' experiences with disability and neurological and pediatric occupational therapy. 

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/8TIAzzjNDX8

Poster #17 - Anna Kiriakidis

University and Program: University of Guelph-Humber, Community Social Services – Psychotherapy and Mental Health

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Shannon Scratch, NOvEL Lab

Presentation: Key components of interventions in face-to-face and virtual settings for siblings of children and youth with chronic conditions: a scoping review

Bio:

Anna Kiriakidis is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Guelph-Humber. She is currently studying to get her Honours Bachelor of Applied Science in Community Social Services as well as her Social Service Worker Diploma. Her passion and chosen area of emphasis is psychotherapy and mental health services. As her academic career progresses, Anna aspires to study abroad in the United Kingdom and attain a Master of Science in Psychotherapeutic Counselling. At the Bloorview Research Institute, Anna has greatly valued the opportunity to explore the research side of mental health interventions. She looks forward to implementing all she has learned to her future practice.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/uPrByHhuDIU

Poster #18 - Danielle Nicolardi

University and Program: Western University, Honours Specialization in Health Sciences

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Tim Ross, EPIC Lab

Presentation: Exploring the importance of place in pediatric palliative care

Bio:

Danielle Nicolardi is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Western University Health Sciences. She joined the Ward Family Summer Student Research Program and is working in the EPIC lab with Dr. Tim Ross. She is conducting a narrative review on the importance of place in pediatric palliative care. Her project is exploring the current literature discussing place and location in relation to pediatric palliative care to uncover emerging themes in the meaning of place in this context. Danielle is also Anishinaabekwe of Moose Deer Point First Nation and is part of the Indigenous stream in the Ward Family Student Research Program.

Research Poster Presentation:

 https://youtu.be/Xpj50i44hvs

Poster #19 - Madalyn Murray

University and Program: Nipissing University, Double Honours Major in Gender Equality and Social Justice and English

Supervisor and Lab: Dr. Tim Ross & Dr. Fiona Moola, EPIC Lab and HEART Lab

Presentation: Representations of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Autism across Healthcare Organizations’ Social Media

Bio:

Madalyn is completing her Bachelor of Arts in Gender Equality and Social Justice, and English. She is especially interested in the intersection of language and advocacy and how that forms both social views and policy. Madalyn has experience working on advocacy for Indigenous rights both with employed and volunteer work. She is currently hoping to pursue graduate studies before finding a career in the research of advocacy fields.

Research Poster Presentation:

https://youtu.be/hLVxTshHMww


Previous Research Day events

2020 Research Day