Trainees

Name Current Research Supervisor

Alexander Paish
PhD

Alex’s research focuses on examining the effect of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on upper and lower-limb muscles and nerves. Specifically, Alex aims to determine the impact of COPD on neuromuscular fatigue, neural excitability, and alterations to the corticospinal motor pathway in females and males.

Dr. Chris McNeil and Prof. Neil Eves

Ali Daraei
PhD

As part of the ULTRA team, Ali is investigating the effects of long-term endurance training on immunometabolism. His research focuses on understanding how 12 months of high-volume exercise can impact immune function through metabolic pathways. Ali aims to uncover the specific mechanisms behind exercise-induced adaptations in immune health and explore their potential as therapeutic interventions to improve health outcomes for individuals with various diseases.

Prof. Neil Eves

Alissa Taki
MSc

Alissa’s research is focused on exploring the neurophysiological mechanisms that govern the cardiovascular system, with an emphasis on understanding how injury to the spinal cord can affect these mechanisms.

Dr. Chris West

Andrew Steele
PhD

My research focuses on understanding how the brain regulates oxygen delivery during different physiological stressors. To achieve this, I plan to conduct three studies examining the effects of high altitude, changes in hematocrit, and exercise. These studies aim to uncover the mechanisms behind cerebral oxygen regulation under various conditions, providing comprehensive insights into how the brain maintains its oxygen levels.

Prof. Phil Ainslie

Ayechew Getu
PhD

Ayechew is interested in the field of high-altitude physiology, focusing on how genetic factors and prenatal and developmental exposure to high-altitude hypoxia influence physiological responses to acute hypoxic conditions. His research aims to enhance our understanding of how individuals raised or previously exposed to high-altitude environments differ in their physiological responses to acute hypoxia compared to those without such exposure. This work could have significant implications for preventing and managing cardiopulmonary diseases, as well as for developing strategies related to high-altitude activities, including mountaineering and athletic performance.

Prof. Phil Ainslie

Bryce Twible
PhD

With an applied approach, Bryce’s research focuses on sport-related neuromuscular function in elite hockey athletes. Specifically, he investigates mechanisms influencing inter-limb asymmetry, the impact of fatigue, and the relationship between neuromuscular function and sport-performance.

Dr. Chris McNeil and Dr. Brian Dalton

Bryony Curry
PhD

Bryony’s research focuses on the evolution of the mammalian heart. Specifically, Bryony is interested in understanding the morphology and function of the great ape heart, to i) support the healthcare of this taxa, and ii) to gain insight into the evolution of the human heart.

Prof. Rob Shave

Camille Galloway
PhD

Camille is interested in atrial fibrillation in athletes and cardiac adaptations in response to exercise.

Prof. Rob Shave

Christina Bruce
PhD

Christina’s research involves studying the effects of environmental stress on the human neuromuscular system. Specifically, the acute and long term effects of hypoxia and hypercapnia on the fatiguing neuromuscular system.

Dr. Chris McNeil

Connor Howe
PhD

Connor’s research focuses on examining the effects of environmental stress on cerebral blood flow regulation and pulmonary function. Connor’s current research projects include 1) examining cerebral blood flow regulation in Andean highlanders with and without chronic mountain sickness living in the highest city in the world, La Rinconda, Peru (5100m); 2) cerebral blood flow and acid-base balance changes in lowlanders during chronic (6-month) high-altitude exposure; and 3) cerebral blood flow regulation and metabolism under conditions of avalanche burial.

Prof. Philip Ainslie

Courtney Brown
PhD

Courtney’s doctoral studies have focused on physiological adaptations to free-diving. Specifically, she is interested in comparing the phenotypic differences in competitive free-divers, Indigenous diving populations who have been diving for >2000 years, and highly adapted marine mammals. Through this work she aims to better understand how humans are able to adjust to significant physiological stresses both acutely and long term.

Prof. Phil Ainslie

Dr. Alex Patrician
Postdoctoral Fellow

Alex’s research focuses on how the human body responds and acclimates to different environmental stresses. From thermal extremes and temperature fluctuations to decreases in oxygen availability, at high altitude or during breath-hold diving. At lululemon, his postdoctoral research utilizes exercise and fluctuating environmental scenarios to better understand the interplay between thermophysiology and thermal perception/behaviour. Another passion of Alex’s is understanding the physiological (and pathophysiological) adaptations that occur in elite breath-hold divers.

Prof. Phil Ainslie

Dr. Alex Williams
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Williams’ key interests are focused on autonomic control of the heart, as well as sex-related differences in cardiovascular physiology. Her current research at UBC and ICORD aims to characterize the acute impacts of traumatic high-level spinal cord injuries (SCI) on the heart, and further determine whether hemodynamic management strategies that harness the heart—rather than solely targeting blood pressure—can optimize short- and long-term cardiovascular and neurological outcomes following injury. The findings from this work may ultimately help to inform clinical practices and optimize acute treatment strategies for SCI patients. Dr. Williams’ research additionally seeks to identify sex-related differences in cardiac (dys)function and the incidence and prevalence of cardiovascular disease in individuals with SCI.

Dr. Chris West

Dr. Alexis Marcotte-Chenard
Postdoctoral Fellow

Alexis’s postdoctoral research centers on optimizing the non-pharmaceutical management of type 2 diabetes. Specifically, he uses various exercise modalities, a low-carbohydrate diet, and ketone supplements to reduce traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Additionally, he is dedicated to bridging the gap between research and the public through knowledge transfer initiatives.

Prof. Jonathan Little

Dr. Hashim Islam
Postdoctoral Fellow

Hashim’s postdoctoral research focuses on the impact of exercise on anti-inflammatory cytokine function and its contribution to the development of type 2 diabetes. Hashim has a background in skeletal muscle physiology and his PhD work examined how exercise and fasting impact molecular pathways that control mitochondrial biology in human muscle.

Prof. Jonathan Little

Dr. Jay Carr
Postdoctoral Fellow

Jay is a Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Phil Ainslie. His research interests include cerebral vascular function, the control of breathing, and adaptation to exercise.

Prof. Phil Ainslie

Dr. Jodie Koep
Postdoctoral Fellow

Jodie’s primary research focusses on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular responses to exercise in children and adolescents, with a specific interest in the and modifying influences of sex, maturation, and fitness. Jodie is running an exercise training intervention supported by the Stober Foundation to determine the feasibility of mobile health technologies for prescribing high intensity workouts in adolescents, and the impacts on fitness and vascular health. She is also leading studies to determine the acute cerebrovascular responses during exercise and acute physiological stressors in children and adolescents compared to adults, to identify the regulatory differences in factors controlling cerebral blood flow in youth, and the healthy developmental trajectories across childhood development.

Prof. Ali McManus

Dr. Madden Brewster
Postdoctoral Fellow

Madden’s research focuses on the regulation and adaptations of the human body when exposed to both natural and human-driven environmental stressors (e.g. pollution, high altitude, diving). Her current postdoctoral fellowship project, supported by WorkSafe BC, aims to assess the effects of wildfire smoke on cardiorespiratory health. She is working alongside the BC Wildfire Service to detect potential cardiorespiratory changes in their crew members across two seasons of wildland firefighting.  As global climate change is predicted to exacerbate future wildfire activity, she hopes to continue this work to develop effective intervention strategies from both an occupational and public health perspective. Madden’s other research interests include high altitude physiology and the mechanisms which contribute to vascular dysfunction and disease in low- and highlander populations as well as the physiology of breath hold diving in elite free divers. Madden is also a research sub-team lead involved in the Lululemon FURTHER project, an all-female ultra-marathon with various physiology-related research initiatives.

Prof. Phil Ainslie

Dr. Mathew Debenham
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Debenham’s postdoctoral studies primarily focus on motor unit health in spinal cord injury patients, with the overall goal of improving patient functional outcomes following nerve transfer surgeries.

Dr. Brian Dalton, Dr. Chris McNeil, and Dr. Michael Berger

Dr. Mehdi Ahmadian
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Ahmadian has a keen interest in understanding the neural control of cardiovascular and respiratory systems and the impact of neurologically mediated disorders, such as spinal cord injury, on these systems. Currently, Dr. Ahmadian is working with Dr. West to investigate the effectiveness of low oxygen therapy in improving cardiovascular function in a rodent model of spinal cord injury and to elucidate the mechanisms behind its therapeutic effects.

Dr. Chris West

Dr. Oliver Wearing
Postdoctoral Fellow

Oliver’s research aims to develop innovative surgical techniques and cutting-edge biotelemetry technologies to better understand cardiovascular function in small and large animal models of health and disease. In particular, Dr. Wearing’s current work with Dr. West aims to leverage these novel methods to generate safe and effective translational therapies to restore cardiovascular function following spinal cord injury.

Dr. Chris West

Dr. Ryan Hoiland

Dr. Hoiland’s postdoctoral research aims to leverage recent advances in the knowledge of blood flow control and the regulation of oxygen delivery to the central nervous system to reduce the severity of spinal cord injury. Following a traumatic spinal cord injury and resuscitation in the hospital, prolonged episodes of oxygen deprivation within the spinal cord can exacerbate the severity of injury. Therefore, treatments that may bolster oxygen supply to the injured spinal cord hold great promise as future therapeutics.

Dr. Chris West

Dr. Stephen Wright
Postdoctoral Fellow

Stephen’s research aims to elucidate processes through which the heart, lungs, and vasculature interact, and how their integrated function facilitates or limits exercise capacity. His program spans the health spectrum from athletic and untrained healthy adults to those with chronic heart and/or lung conditions and uses non-invasive and invasive techniques to quantify heart, lung, and vascular function. His postdoctoral work is focused on the impact of breathing mechanics on ventricular function during exercise in older adults. Stephen also serves on the editorial boards for the Canadian Journal of Cardiology & CJC Open.

Prof. Neil Eves

Dr. Tony Dawkins
Postdoctoral Fellow

Tony’s postdoctoral research is centered around cardiovascular remodeling in health and disease. Using comparative and interdisciplinary approaches, one stream of Tony’s postdoctoral research examines the influence of social adversity on cardiovascular health and aging in non-human primates, and explores the underlying. Tony’s program of research also builds on his graduate work to further examine both the acute and chronic responses of the cardiovascular system to exercise, with a particular interest in the right ventricle, heart-lung interactions, and the functional reserve capacity of the system.

Prof. Rob Shave

Eric Bennett
MSc

Eric’s MSc study will focus on the effect of normobaric hypoxia and different postural demands on cortical and spinal excitability. Specifically, how excitability changes standing as compared to sitting. 

Dr. Brian Dalton

Garett Jackson
PhD

Garett’s masters research focused on changes in immune cell recruitment and mobilization in response to acute submaximal aerobic exercise in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Specifically, the response of these cells to an updated physical activity guidelines exercise bout for individuals living with both paraplegia and tetraplegia. Garett’s PhD work involves exploring and characterizing extracellular vesicle phenotype, size, concentration, and micro-RNA content in individuals with respect to sex differences, in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and whether these can be altered using chronic exercise in healthy young adults.

Prof. Jonathan Little

Helena Neudorf
PhD

Helena is interested in understanding the ability of ketone bodies, typically generated by means of a low-carbohydrate high-fat ketogenic diet, to act as signaling metabolites within the immune system. Specifically, Helena is investigating the direct effects of ketones on both innate and adaptive immune function and defense in the context of type 2 diabetes.

Prof. Jonathan Little

Jake Winkler
PhD

Jake is currently investigating the impact of nutritional interventions on Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) remission and immune cell function. In particular, he is looking at the preference for either a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diet for T2D remission in a year long patient-centred, community-led implementation trial in BC’s Interior region. He will look at immune cell function before and after the intervention to understand how the immune system responds to real-world dietary changes and medication deprescription.

Prof. Jonathan Little

Jiawen Lim
MSc

Jiawen’s MSc study is focused on heart-lung interactions and she is looking specifically at the the effects of lung volume on central hemodynamics of the heart.

Prof. Neil Eves

John Sasso
PhD

Investigating the application of enhanced-recovery methods for improving the adaptation to exercise training.

Prof. Neil Eves

Jonathan Low
PhD

Jonathan’s current research is focused on determining the effects of different types, patterns and intensities of exercise on glycemic control and biomarkers of cardiometabolic health in individuals living with type 2 diabetes. The overarching goal of Jonathan’s work is to further the idea of using exercise as medicine for populations living with chronic disease. Jonathan’s vision for his career in research is to someday get to a place where, with one quick DNA sample, we can know the perfect exercise prescription to achieve the most meaningful clinical results for each individual patient.

Prof. Jonathan Little & Prof. Ali McManus

Kate Sansum
PhD

Kate is interested in investigating how physical activity, sedentary time and exercise influence vascular health in children and adolescents. Her first study, supported by NASPEM’s Marco Cabrera Student Research Award, is investigating the effect of 1 hour of sitting on lower limb vascular function in children, adolescents and adults. Additionally, she is involved with an exercise training study to determine the feasibility of using mobile health technologies for training adolescents, and the impact this could have on fitness and vascular health. Finally, she is working on a project investigating the acute cerebrovascular responses to exercise and hypercapnia in children and adolescents, compared to adults.

Prof. Ali McManus

Katherine Taylor
MSc

Katherine’s research includes applying blood flow restriction to the lower limbs to identify the muscle metaboreflex during dynamic exercise. Specifically, looking at how this system responds to incremental exercise at high-altitude and its difference between females and males.

Dr. Glen Foster

Kyla Coates
PhD

Kyla’s current research aims to explore alternative therapies to improve health and exercise tolerance in clinical populations that are limited in their ability to exercise. Her thesis projects use passive heat therapy to improve cardiovascular health and exercise tolerance in people with chronic lung disease. On the side, she is investigating the time-course and magnitude of vascular adaptation that can occur from a year of long-distance triathlon training.  

Prof. Neil Eves

Liam Stewart
PhD

Liam is focused on applied exercise physiology, with his PhD thesis aimed at characterizing the physiological adaptations that occur during a year of triathlon training in exercise-naïve individuals. His research will provide critical insights into how coordinated adaptations across multiple physiological systems enhance exercise performance. In addition to his research, Liam is committed to teaching and aims to foster a strong interest in exercise physiology among the next generation of scientists and practitioners.

Prof. Neil Eves

Liisa Wainman
PhD

Liisa’s research interests include exercise and therapeutics for autonomic function in neurological disease. Her doctoral work aims to characterize the effects of acute intermittent hypoxia exposure on cardiovascular function in high-thoracic and cervical spinal cord injury.

Dr. Chris West

Maddie Coyle
MSc

Maddie’s research interests include studying sex-based differences in respiratory physiology, specifically in diaphragmatic perfusion. Her research will focus on diaphragm blood flow changes during exercise, and how these changes differ between males and females.

Dr. Glen Foster

Mary Fossey
PhD

Mary’s research focuses on the effects of spinal cord injury on the heart on a physiological-to-molecular spectrum. Currently, Mary is more specifically investigating the effects of spinal cord injury on the heart transcriptome and testing the efficacy of emergent cardiovascular therapies on modulating cardiac gene expression.

Dr. Chris West

Megan Lance
MSc

Megan’s research interests include investigating sex-based differences in diaphragm blood flow and fatigue in humans. Specifically, Megan utilizes contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging to investigate changes in diaphragm perfusion, and transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the phrenic nerve to quantify contractile properties of the diaphragm.

Dr. Glen Foster

Mina Kafashi
PhD

Mina’s doctoral research is dedicated to examining the impact of acute intermittent hypoxia on renal function and sympathetic nerve activity in animal models with high-thoracic spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Chris West

Mohammad Soltani
PhD

Mohammad’s research interests primarily lie in the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous systems, particularly in the interplay between the sympathetic nervous system and vasculature, an area known as sympathetic neurovascular transduction. His focus is on understanding how fluctuations in circulation affect sympathetic neurovascular transduction and the role the renin-angiotensin system plays in this interaction. He is also interested in researching cardiovascular disease and its complications, particularly examining the interaction of different physiological systems, such as the immune system and the autonomic nervous system, in relation to cardiovascular diseases in his potential future research.

Dr. Glen Foster

Noah Pemberton
MSc

Noah’s research interests look toward investigating the effects of stretching on neuromuscular function and performance, and has a special interest in how this research can be applied in a sports science environment.

Dr. Chris McNeil

Paige Copeland
PhD

Paige’s PhD studies will focus on the effect of acute cannabis use on various facets of sensorimotor and cognitive activity. Further, she will focus on how these cannabis-induced effects may impact humans during different functional contexts, including fatigue and standing balance.

Dr. Brian Dalton and Dr. Chris McNeil

Phuong (Lisa) Ha
PhD

Lisa’s primary research focuses on the effects of high velocity contractions and postural demand on cortical and spinal excitability in males and females. She aims to examine fatigue-induced mechanisms on potential sex-related differences, and eventually hopes to extend her research across age groups. 

Dr. Brian Dalton

Quinn Malone
PhD

Quinn’s research interests include the effects of acute cannabis intoxication on human movement, the effects of dual tasking on balance control, sensorimotor integration, and the cognitive determinants of movement. He has also worked on determining the efficacy of various conservative approaches to treating chronic back pain, improving our understanding of the sensorimotor contributions to spinal manipulative thrust delivery, and is also proficient at computer programming.

Dr. Brian Dalton and Dr. Chris McNeil

Roderick Sandilands
MSc

Roddie’s research primarily focuses on the feasibility and efficacy of integrating brief movement breaks (termed exercise “snacks”) into real-world settings. More specifically, he is interested in the acute and chronic effects of exercise snacks on glucose control, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour among individuals living with type 2 diabetes.

Prof. Jonathan Little

Scott Thrall
PhD

Scott’s research examines how our autonomic nervous system responds and adapts when repeatedly exposed to low oxygen. By mapping changes in autonomic regulation through measurements of peripheral nerve activity and the function of the heart, lungs and vasculature, his PhD aims to improve our understanding of the pathogenesis of hypertension in sleep apnea, as well as exploring the therapeutic potential of hypoxia and neural adaptation in spinal cord injury to translate to improvements in patient cardiovascular outcomes.

Dr. Glen Foster

Spencer Ursel
MSc

Spencer’s MSc research will examine how exercise, body composition, and dietary interventions impact the immune system and metabolic health. This research aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of how lifestyle factors collectively influence mitochondria, and consequently, overall metabolic function. This research could have significant implications for developing interventions tailored to enhance mitochondrial function, potentially aiding in the prevention and management of metabolic disorders.

Prof. Jonathan Little

Tori Bouck
MSc

Tori’s MSc research involves a pilot study exploring the efficacy and feasibility of an exercise training intervention consisting of brief, isolated bouts of vigorous exercise (“exercise snacks”) among individuals living with type 2 diabetes.

Prof. Jonathan Little