Skip to main content
2020 Pursuit Award Recipients
Celebrating the brightest

This year's virtual Pursuit Award ceremony shines a bright spotlight on some of the country's top young minds in childhood disability research

For the past 10 years, Holland Bloorview’s Pursuit Award annual competition has shone a bright spotlight on some of the brightest PhD students and recent alumni worldwide for their outstanding contributions and achievements to childhood disability research.

Some of the leading young minds across the country were judged on the significance of their research results, methodological rigour, empirical content, and most importantly, the impact and relevance to the field of childhood disability.

The top three candidates, chosen by an esteemed judging panel comprised of scientists, senior executives and family leaders, have been awarded $3,000 (first place), $2,000 (second place) and $1,000 (third place).

First place: Dr. Stephanie Snow, psychologist (candidate register), Outpatient Community Mental Health and Addictions Program, IWK Health Centre, Nova Scotia

Dr. Stephanie Snow completed her PhD in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University and her pre-doctoral residency in Manitoba. Her dissertation research focused on working with children with autism, their families, and healthcare providers to support the development, implementation, and preliminary evaluation of a program to improve care to children with autism around the time of surgery.

This research was conducted at and supported by the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Dr. Snow is now employed as a psychologist (candidate register) in the Outpatient Community Mental Health and Addictions Program. She continues to work on disseminating her dissertation findings and remains committed to assisting initiatives aimed at increasing the capacity of health and mental health services to be responsive to the unique needs of the diverse spectrum of childhood, adolescent, and family experiences.

What does receiving a Pursuit Award mean to you?

"This award recognizes the impact and value of research that engages stakeholders and responds to their perspectives on ways to improve healthcare delivery for those most directly affected. Meaningfully engaging stakeholders in my dissertation research challenged me to drop my agenda, listen carefully with an open mind, and ultimately expand my repertoire of research skills. I am proud of our efforts to apply rigorous methodological frameworks while being attuned to the needs identified by children with autism, their families, and front-line healthcare providers, just as I am humbled and energized by the response and recognition."

Second place: Dr. Patrick Jachyra, post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Dr. Patrick Jachyra earned his PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Toronto, and is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. His research examines how physical activity participation impacts the mental and physical health of children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders. In the community, Dr. Jachyra is the founder and former director of the Extraordinary Youth Council Program, a community recreation program for youth and young adults with neurodevelopmental disorders. The post-doctoral fellow’s contributions in the community have been recognized by numerous awards, including the prestigious University of Toronto Awards of Excellence and the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award.

What does receiving this award mean to you?

“It is an honour and privilege to have my doctoral work recognized by the Pursuit Award. Receiving the award motivates me further to conduct childhood disability research in an effort to provide all children with the chance to reach their full potential in all aspects of life. Receiving the award also will help launch my career forward in an effort to enhance the health and well-being children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders. “

Third place: Dr. Emily Ho, occupational therapist, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Hospital for Sick Children

Dr. Emily Ho is an occupational therapist who completed her doctoral studies at the University of Toronto Rehabilitation Sciences Institute under the supervision of Dr. Virginia Wright. Her dissertation focused on developing a decision aid for youth with brachial plexus birth injury as an avenue to empower families to make informed treatment decisions based on what matters most to them. Her research program at the SickKids Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery centres on patient engagement, shared decision making, and outcomes research in children and adolescents with upper-extremity musculoskeletal conditions.

What does receiving this award mean to you?

“It is truly an honour to be among the finalists of the Bloorview Research Institute Pursuit Awards in being recognized for our efforts to improve the lives of children with disabilities through our research. As I embark on the journey of a career as an academic researcher, this award fuels my resolve to place the voice of youth with disabilities at the centre of my research and partner with them through initiatives that aim to optimize their functioning and quality of life.”


The annual Pursuit Awards are made possible by the Bloorview Research Institute thanks to a generous gift from the Ward Family Foundation.

Learn more about  the recipients' research.

Watch the video of the ceremony.