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Welcoming Sue Peters, Our New Post-Doctoral Fellow

GRC welcomes Sue Peters, our latest addition to the GRC Team! Dr. Peters is examining how individuals with multiple chronic medical conditions cope in the context of physical rehabilitation. Her work bridges neuroscience, aging and rehabilitation by bringing together years of clinical experience with research.

Learn more about Dr. Peters' publications and research here ~

Meet Sue Peters

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up near a small farming town in Ontario (Aylmer, near London). I spent my summers working in various harvests, or taking care of the family garden and chickens. While I loved rural life, I was interested to see what a city might have to offer. I moved to Vancouver in 2007 after competing my Master’s degree to work as a physiotherapist in various private and public practice settings before completing my PhD at UBC in 2017.

When I’m not thinking about ways to improve rehabilitation for people with mobility difficulties, I like to camp, bike, and hike, as well as go for walks in beautiful BC! In particular, I enjoy backcountry camping with friends, and at home, playing board games, or checking out the newest coffee shop or brewery.

What brought you to the GRC?

There are a few reasons why I wanted to work at the GRC.  The GRC’s affiliations, such as the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging and AGE-WELL Networks of Centres of Excellence, provide excellent opportunities for collaboration.  The breadth of work on aging, health care, and technology offers an exciting space for growth as a researcher and the potential for unique projects that can really impact the health of Canadians.

What are your research interests?

My overall career goal is to improve rehabilitation outcomes for people with mobility limitations.  To achieve this, I partake in three streams of research: 1) learn how movement goals in the brain and muscles come together to generate actions like walking and standing balance, 2) how physical resilience can be measured clinically, 3) clinical research in health care and academic settings.

What project(s) are you most proud of?

At this stage in my career, I’m most proud of my PhD work: “Ready to move? The effect of stroke on attention and motor planning of voluntary leg movements.” Completing my PhD project involved integrating data collection tools from 3 different labs. As such, there were methodological challenges and opportunities within my thesis, such as performing neurophysiological measurements within a patient population (sub-acute to chronic stroke). The clinical challenge of data collection required ensuring patient safety by using a combination of physiotherapy hands-on support, and external supports like ceiling harnesses. To complete data analysis, I learned from engineers in San Diego, California and Gainesville, Florida to ensure that stepping and walking movement artifacts and signals were processed properly. My PhD project provided the opportunity to learn from two world-leaders: Dr. Lara Boyd (motor learning and neuroplasticity) and Dr. Jayne Garland (motor control and stroke). I found my PhD work extremely satisfying, as it is a foundation for future work characterizing mobility outcomes in the context of rehabilitation.

What are your hopes for the field gerontology/the world?

Considering the importance of physical activity for maintaining and improving mobility with aging, I hope to improve the rehabilitative process so that after injury, people are enabled and supported to achieve the highest level of functional outcomes possible. This way, they can continue or start being more physically active. If we succeed, Canadians will be able to live longer with a higher quality of life.

What are you currently reading?

The latest issue of Scientific American, and Samantha Bee’s “I know I am, but what are you?”

Is there any type of support that you are looking for, or a particular project that you want to pursue in the future?

Considering I’ve just started at the GRC, I’d love to learn and understand more about the breadth of work happening at and affiliated with the GRC, so feel free to stop by my office for a chat (2606), or we can go for a work-chat/walk on the seawall. I’m always excited to discuss new ideas!