RS Graduate Newsletter

Issue 1
Summer 2015

In This Issue

Website Makeover

The SRS website has received a makeover! Did you notice? Check out our new look at!

Connect With Us


What's New

Welcome to the new quarterly RS Graduate Newsletter! We plan on sending these newsletters out at each quarter, starting in May 2015, to keep you up to date with what's going on in the RS Graduate Program! Each newsletter will include information on what's new with the program, a student or alumni profile, exciting news, and upcoming events that we think you'd like to know about! Please feel free to give us feedback on the newsletter so that we can tailor it to better suit what you are looking for. We hope you enjoy!
Who am I?
I am a physician specialized in Rehabilitation Medicine, better known as a physiatrist here in North America, from Mexico City. I came to the School of Rehabilitation Science to do a Masters from 2008 to 2010. In 2010 I started a PhD in the same program. My supervisors during the Masters were Dr. Norma MacIntyre and Dr. Julie Richardosn and my PhD supervisor is Dr. Julie Richardson. I am married to a physiotherapist, also from Mexico City, and now we have a Canadian 3 year old son. After finishing my medical training and specialty I realized the importance of focusing on the functioning of people as a way to ensure a good quality of life and I felt that more research was needed on the area of Rehabilitation. Consequently, I decided to continue my education to learn how to do research in Rehabilitation and came to one of the most prestigious places to learn about health research in the planet, McMaster University.
What is my research?
During my PhD training I designed in collaboration with Canadian researchers and Mexican researchers and stakeholders a program of research targeted to develop, implement and evaluate culturally-sensitive community-based rehabilitation programs for people living with disabling musculoskeletal diseases in underserved areas of Mexico. This program proposes the use of participatory-action approaches involving the use of quantitative and qualitative research methods to construct culturally appropriate interventions directed at decreasing the disabling effects of chronic diseases at the personal (impairment and activity limitations) and societal (participation restrictions) levels. At the moment, I am working on the implementation of the program of research in a poor rural Mayan community in South Mexico and in a poor urban community in North Mexico. This experience has shown me the importance of collaborating and building partnerships with the community and people from other disciplines and areas to understand the problem of disability in a community and to design interventions to address this problem. One of the main lessons learned so far is that to solve disability-related problems in a community it is necessary to take both, bottom-up and a top down approaches. Only coupling a genuine collaborative work with the community with fierce advocacy at the health systems level could result in the social changes necessary to decrease the problem of disability in a socially marginalized community.
What did I like best about the Rehabilitation Science program?
In my perspective the best of the Rehabilitation Science (RS) program at Mac is its people. By “people” I refer to its faculty, students and staff. The faculty at RS is so diverse, that allowed me to interact and obtain different perspectives on the approach to the topic of disability and rehabilitation. Moreover, the faculty of the RS program is generally very approachable an open to dialogue and one can feel that there is a good environment for collaboration. My supervisor, Dr. Julie Richardson, was amazing. She helped me ground my ideas, dreams and ambitions and supported me all the way to successfully complete my goals. As for the students, the thing that I like the most is that we come from a wide diverse of disciplines and cultures. This, I think helps a lot to question personal assumptions opening your eyes to the unknown and different. The RS school fosters a collegiate environment in which we students can get to know each other and most importantly exchange ideas. Finally, but not less importantly, are the staff people that work at the school of RS. In my personal experience, I was never left on my own to solve administrative problems and there was always a friendly face or a helping hand when I needed to book a room, to organize a meeting or to use equipment. Overall, I think that the school of RS is an ideal place to learn and create knowledge on the phenomena of human functioning, disability and rehabilitation.
What are my plans going forward?
As I am close to finish my degree I am facing the question of “what’s next?”. My dream is to continue working in the program of research I designed during my doctoral work and expand it to other locations in Mexico and Latin America. In addition, I dream to expand my program of research to Canada in order to contribute to diminishing health access inequities present in many Canadian communities, such as the indigenous communities. Consequently, my plans going forward are to continue collaborating in the program of research that has been already implemented in Mexico and to look for opportunities to work in Canada to expand this program of research in the benefit of Canadian vulnerable populations.


Congratulations to our many successful RS Grad students, including:
Natalie D'Isabella 
Patrick McPhee
Jenna Smith
Xavier Bromfield
Pam Lahey
Rabeya Sharmin
Andrea Cross
Kathy Wlodarczyk
Natalie D'Isabella presented at the Current Research in Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) conference at McMaster several weeks ago and was awarded 4th place for best presentation! The presentation was entitled  "Investigating sex differences in endothelial function in older adults" and was authored by Natalie D'Isabella, Daria Shkredova, Hanna Fang, Maureen MacDonald, Jennifer Heisz and Ada Tang.
Patrick McPhee received the 2014-2015 Dr. Ian and Shirley Rowe Entrance Scholarship! The 2014-2015 Dr. Ian and Shirley Rowe Entrance Scholarship for $5,000.00 was established to offer to truly exceptional doctoral students in the field of childhood disability.   The intent of this scholarship is to attract the best candidates to the School of Rehabilitation Sciences’ doctoral program. Patrick McPhee's supervisor is Jan Willem Gorter. 
Jenna Smith received the 2014-2015 Jean Crowe Scholarship! The 2014-2015 Jean Crowe Scholarship of $5,000.00 was established by Prof. Jean Crowe.  Prof. Jean Crowe was one of the original faculty members when the Physiotherapy Program was established at McMaster University.  This scholarship is awarded to a doctoral student, within the field of Physiotherapy, whose research is innovative and of clinical significance. Jenna Smith's supervisor is Julie Richardson.
Xavier Bromfield, Pam Lahey and Rabeya Sharmin received an SRS Bursary for 2014-2015. The School of Rehabilitation Science Graduate Bursary was established in 2004 by the School of Rehabilitation Science through the generosity of its alumni and friends under the McMaster Student Opportunity Fund II initiative.
Andrea Cross (CIHR) and Kathy Wlodarczyk (SSERC) have been awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) for 2015-2016. The OGS program recognizes academic excellence in graduate studies at the master's and doctoral levels in all disciplines of academic study. The OGS program at McMaster is jointly funded by the Province of Ontario and the University of Toronto.
Quantitative Interest Group
Looking for a place to discuss stats issues, problem solve analyses and learn new techniques? Check out the new Quantitative Interest Group! Contact Andrea Kusac for more information at

Important Dates

Qualitative Query Forum: 
  • May 4, 2015: 10:30am - 12:00pm
  • June 1, 2015: 10:30am - 12:00pm

RS Graduate Student Luncheons: 
  • Wednesday May 13th, 2015
  • Wednesday June 10th, 2015
RS Skills Series:
Wednesday May 13th, 2015, IAHS 201
Topic: Exciting career pathways off the faculty track
Research Rounds:
Wednesday May 13, 2015 9:00 - 9:30am Sandra Vanderkaay
9:30 - 10:00am Ahmed Negm
Wednesday June 10, 2015 9:00 - 10:00am Dr. Marco Pang
(Visiting Professor)

Comprehensive Examination Oversight Committee Upcoming Meetings:
  • Thursday May 14th, 2015
  • Wednesday June 3rd, 2015
  • Wednesday July 8th, 2015

Defences and Exams:
  • Nicholas Brisson's Comprehensive Exam - May 15th
  • Neha D Justyne Kersley's MSc Thesis Defence - May 26th
  • Neha Dewam's Comprehensive Exam - May 27th
  • Yunwha Jeong's Comprehensive Exam - June 1st
  • Kathy Stazyk's MSc Thesis Defence - June 18th or 19th

Deadline for 2014-2015 Supervisory Committee Reports: June 30th, 2015

On-Time Registration for 2015-2016: Thursday July 9th to Thursday July 30th

2015-2016 School Start Date: Tuesday September 8th, 2015

Orientation Luncheon: September 9th, 2015: 12:00 - 1:00pm

New Student Orientation: September 9th, 2015: 1:00 - 3:00pm

Upcoming Conferences 

Health and the Whole Person: A Healing Arts Conference
May 27, 2015
Royal Botanical Gardens
680 Plains Road West, Burlington, ON

This one-day conference hosted by the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging draws together clinicians, scholars and students from a broad range of disciplines, creating an environment for a rich exploration of the health humanities. Dr. Allan Peterkin, founder of the Health, Arts and Humanities program at the University of Toronto, will present the keynote address. Other events include a panel discussion, presentations, interactive workshops, music performances, and a PhotoVoice exhibit. 

Registrants are asked to select first and second choices for one morning and one afternoon workshop.  Workshop spaces are limited and will be given on a first come first served basis.

A light breakfast and full buffet lunch will be provided to all registered delegates.  Parking is free for all registered delegates.
Please join us for this exciting opportunity to explore the health humanities!  

Looking to Get Involved? 

  • We are currently looking for volunteers for New Student Tour Guides! If you're interested, contact Liz Dzaman at!
  • It's time to spruce up the RS Graduate Program! We are currently looking for students who want to be involved in new pictures and a new promotional video for the program. If you are interested, email Liz Dzaman at We are hoping to have a photo shoot on May 11 and May 13, 2015. 
Check Out Our New Website
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Copyright © 2015, Rehabilitation Science Graduate Program, School of Rehabilitation Science, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Rehabilitation Science Graduate Program
School of Rehabilitation Science
Institute for Applied Health Sciences, Rm. 402
McMaster University
1400 Main St. W.
Hamilton, ON L8S 1C7

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