Candidate Statement: Since 2013, AAA has been my academic home base. The opportunities provided by the society through networking, collaboration and mentorship, have been pivotal in helping me develop my research program, and grow as an educator. While I have benefitted tremendously through my membership, I am most grateful for the opportunities that AAA has offered to all of my trainees. Through AAA, my students have had the chance to present their work, attend workshops focused on career development and best teaching practices and to participate in the mentorship program. Beyond these formalized activities, the members of our society have supported my trainees through casual conversations in the poster aisles and email correspondence. Given all that my group has gained through AAA, I would love the opportunity to give back to the society as a member of the Board of Directors.
As a member of the Board of Directors, I would like to work with others to help capitalize on the many strengths of AAA. Particularly, I would love to build upon the many opportunities offered to trainees and early career researchers. We can fulfill this vision in part through creative re-thinking of our annual conference as we move towards holding independent meetings. With a more intimate setting, I imagine blending some of the best aspects of our regional and annual meetings, such as, more hands-on workshops that will be more accessible to our international community. As research becomes more interdisciplinary, these workshops can greatly expand our trainees’ skillsets. By offering additional training sessions at our meetings, we can help offset discrepancies in access to such opportunities among our student membership. Indeed, our membership has demonstrated their commitment to improving equity and diversity in our field through such initiatives as the Building Community Scholarship, Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, Short-Term Visiting Scholarship and the recent Anatomy Scholars Program and I would like to work with others to strengthen this important mission.
Given the professional and personal support I have received throughout my academic career, I have sought opportunities that allow me to pay this mentorship forward. At my own institution, I have had the privilege to contribute to graduate education through my appointment as Director of two separate graduate programs. Through my directorship of the Clinical Anatomy MSc. program, I have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students as they carve their own path to a variety of careers. Many of these students are unsure of their long-term goals when they enter the program, and it is a great joy to help tailor their experiences within the program to match their interests, and to watch them grow personally and professionally. More recently, I have been appointed as Director of the Developmental Biology Collaborative Specialization graduate program. This program includes MSc and PhD students with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration in developmental biology research. Through this program, we try to provide trainees with opportunities to build up their skillsets through multi-lab collaborations and access to on-site and off-site resources such as workshops, that are in addition to those provided through their home department and lab. The students in these programs have been generous with their feedback as we work continuously to improve the curriculum to meet the changing needs of our trainees. I feel that these experiences working with students at the program level can be leveraged to help fulfill my vision for AAA and to contribute more broadly to the society if I were to be elected to the Board of Directors.
Current Position/Institution: Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, University of Western Ontario
Ph.D. Institution: Medical Sciences, University of Calgary
Earlier Positions: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University (2006-2008)
Teaching: [Current] Human Anatomy and Embryology (graduate students), Cadaveric Human Anatomy: Organs and Systems (undergraduate students), Research Project Course (graduate students) [Past] Human Anatomy (first- and second-year medical students), Head and Neck Anatomy for Dentistry (first year dentistry students), Functional Human Anatomy (undergraduate and physiotherapy students), Developmental Anatomy (fourth year medical students)
AAA Committee/Roles: Session Chair (2016, 2021), Symposium Organizer (2019), Poster Judge (2015)
Other Professional Activities: Associate Editor for Evolutionary Biology (2008-present), Member of Genes, Cells and Molecules Review Panel, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Research Tools and Instruments (2019-present)
Research Interest: I am a morphologist and developmental biologist who leads multiple projects to better understand both fundamental development of the skull and cellular mechanisms that underlie congenital malformations of the craniofacial skeleton. My lab uses innovative mutant and knockout mouse lines, high-resolution micro-CT imaging, geometric morphometrics, cellular analyses and transcriptomics to uncover cellular and molecular processes that are resilient and susceptible to disruption during skull development.
Other Professional Memberships Currently Maintained: Society for Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology