Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Dr. Travis Gibbons

Supervisor: Prof. Philip Ainslie

Current research: Travis’s research revolves around how the brain responds to environmental and energetic challenges, primarily thermal, exercise, gravity, hypoxia and fasting/starvation. His primary focus is in how oxygen delivery to the brain is regulated, and how changes in brain blood flow affect other highly regulated variables such as brain temperature, brain energetics, intracranial pressure and cognition. Travis has additional interest in exploiting these stressors to better understand how they can be harnessed to delay neurocognitive decline with aging, and improve resilience from acute brain injury.

Awards: Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee

Travis currently lives in New Zealand where he enjoys a good run in the hills. He is also fathering 3 duck eggs due to hatch in 2 – 3 weeks.

Dr. Ryan Hoiland

Supervisor: Dr. Chris West

Current Research: 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.

Awards: Dr. Hoiland is currently funded through the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research’s Research Trainee Program (2020-2023) as well as the UBC Faculty of Medicine Bluma Tischler Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020-2021).

Future aspirations: Continue in research and develop an independent program investigating central nervous system ischemia.


Dr. Hashim Islam

Supervisor: Dr. Jonathan Little

Current research: 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.

Awards: NSERC postdoctoral fellowship

Future aspirations: Hashim aims to combine his PhD and postdoctoral experience to establish a research program focusing on the interaction between immunology/inflammation and mitochondrial biology in skeletal muscle.


Dr. Barbara Oliveira

Supervisor: Dr. Jonathan Little

Current Research: Barbara is a Registered Dietitian interested in all aspects of diet related to metabolism. Her recent research aims to investigate nutritional approaches in prevention, management and treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

Future Aspirations: to proceed with research and continue in the academic environment.

Barbara is a mother of two kids, loves CrossFit and expects staying in Canada for good!


Dr. Joshua Tremblay

Co-supervisors: Prof. Philip Ainslie & Prof. Rob Shave

Current research: Josh’s research focuses on how the environment shapes cardiovascular function. My research combines lab and field-based approaches to understand cardiovascular adaptations and maladaptations to stressors, in particular high-altitude. Josh is also working with the International Primate Heart Project to provide insight on vascular structure and function in great apes and how evolution may have influenced postindustrial humans’ susceptibility to cardiovascular disease.

Awards: Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship, NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee

Josh makes the most of living in the Okanagan by running ultramarathons, paddling on the lake, and frequenting farmers’ markets and the ever-growing number of craft breweries.


Dr. Mike Tymko

Co-supervisors: Prof. Philip Ainslie & Dr. Mypinder Sekhon

Current Research: Dr. Tymko’s postdoctoral studies have primarily focused on how environmental stressors (e.g., high altitude, exercise, thermal stress) alter peripheral and cerebral vascular function in healthy humans. Understanding human adaptation (or maldapation) to stress provides novel insight into the mechanism(s) that govern blood vessel health.

Awards: Dr. Tymko is currently funded through an NSERC PDF award (2019-2021) and a Mitacs Fellowship (2021-2022).

Future aspirations: To continue developing his internationally renowned cutting-edge company and independent research program. Mike also values the BC outdoors and enjoys skiing and cycling in his down time.


Dr. Alex Williams

Supervisor: Dr. Chris West

Current research: 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.

Awards: Dr. Williams is currently funded by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research/International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries/Rick Hansen Institute Trainee Award, and has received the UBC Faculty of Medicine Bluma Tischler Postdoctoral Fellowship (2019-2020). Her research examining sex differences in SCI is funded by the CIHR 3-year Project Grant (co-applicant).

Future aspirations: To develop an integrative research program focused on cardio-autonomic physiology and sex-related differences in the heart. (And also continue to develop as a photographer and very novice person-who-climbs-rocks).


Dr. Stephen Wright

Supervisor: Prof. Neil Eves

Current Research: 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.

Previous Experience: Stephen completed his Ph.D. in Medical Science and M.Sc. in Exercise Science at the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital. His work included cardiac catheterization-based studies describing right ventricular-pulmonary vascular hemodynamic responses to exercise in healthy older adults.

Awards: Canadian Respiratory Research Network Fellowship (2019-2021); Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee Award (2019-2022).

Aspirations: To perform and disseminate impactful mechanistic and clinical research that advances our understanding of human physiology and helps to optimize the health of older adults.