Research Team

Kate Brown completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology at the University of Waterloo. She went on to complete a Master of Science in the Faculty of Medicine in Rehabilitation Science at the University of British Columbia. With the supervision of Lara Boyd in the Brain Behaviour Lab, she studied the role of the prefrontal and somatosensory cortices in attentional effects on sensory processing. Currently, she is completing her PhD in Rehabilitation Science. Specifically, she is studying the role of sensorimotor integration in motor learning.

Ronan Denyer is a PhD student in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience. Ronan completed his Bachelor’s degree at Trinity College Dublin, receiving First Class Honors in Psychology. While studying at TCD Ronan worked with Dr. Richard Carson investigating the neurophysiological basis of cross education of motor function using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Ronan also spent some time with Dr. Kathleen Friel at the Burke Rehabilitation Institute in New York, investigating the efficacy of bimanual therapy in kids with cerebral palsy. Dr. Lara Boyd’s work investigating the neurobiology of motor learning using both neurophysiological and imaging techniques, and in particular her focus on translating findings into applications to improve the quality of life of individuals with stroke, is what attracted Ronan to Canada, UBC and the Brain Behaviour Lab.

Jennifer Ferris is currently an MSc candidate in the Graduate Program of Neuroscience. She completed her undergraduate degree at UBC with Honours in Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate she studied the distribution of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone in the rat hippocampus under the supervision of Dr. Kiran Soma, and visual-spatial attention in senior fallers under the supervision of Dr. Todd Handy. Jenn’s interest in brain injury led her to the Brain Behaviour Lab. Her research will focus on the contribution of Type-2 diabetes to stroke incidence and stroke recovery.

Bea is a MSc Candidate in the Rehabilitation Sciences program under the supervision of Dr. Lara Boyd in the Brain Behaviour Lab. Bea completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia. Her current research examines the influence of aerobic exercise on neurophysiology and motor learning in healthy older adults. This work is geared towards informing future research evaluating exercise prescription in persons with chronic stroke. Outside of the lab, Bea enjoys being active outdoors, playing sports, and travelling.

Kate Hayward completed her Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at James Cook University (Australia) and her PhD at The University of Queensland (Australia). Kate’s graduate work built upon her clinical experience and focused on people with severe upper limb paresis after stroke. Here, she evaluated the use of novel training interventions (e.g., SMART Arm, outcome-triggered electrical stimulation), along with identifying clinical factors associated with functional recovery. To extend on her graduate work in people with severe paresis, Kate joined the Brain Behaviour Lab at UBC to use multimodal neuroimaging to explore the dynamic capacity of the severely damaged brain and identify possible brain-derived factors associated with functional recovery. Her postdoctoral work aims to unpack ‘who recovers’, ‘who does not recover’, and ‘why’ when severe upper limb paresis is present after stroke. The outcomes of her research will be used to inform the development of novel training interventions to promote optimal upper limb recovery after severe stroke.

Bev Larssen is currently a student in the MPT/PhD program at the University of British Columbia. Bev completed her BHK and MSc under the supervision of Dr. Nicola Hodges in the School of Kinesiology, also at UBC. During her undergraduate and MSc programs, Bev studied the role of feedback and observational practice in adaptation learning. After completing her physical therapy training, with the supervision of Dr. Lara Boyd, she plans to study the use of robotic devices in upper-limb training interventions, and how they can be used as a tool to facilitate motor performance and learning.


Jason Neva completed his BSc and MSc in Kinesiology and Health Science at York University and his PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. His MSc focused on aspects of behavioural motor learning and his PhD investigated how brain activity is modulated due to two-handed (bimanual) motor training and brain stimulation using TMS. In the Brain Behaviour Lab at UBC, Jason uses multiple neuroimaging techniques to understand the underlying neural mechanisms that are modulated due to skilled motor behaviour, brain injury (e.g. stroke) and other neurological disorders. Jason has two related overall research interests: (1) to understand how skilled motor learning, multisensory integration and non-invasive cortical stimulation effect neuroplasticity in the central nervous system and (2) how this understanding of neuroplasticity can positively alter brain activity and motor function following stroke and other neurological disorders.

Sue Peters obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario. Working as a Kinesiologist, Sue was interested in understanding normal human movement and how therapeutic exercise could facilitate recovery after an injury. To improve her understanding of motor performance and injury recovery, Sue returned to university to complete a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. While working clinically as a Physiotherapist, Sue worked with people with a variety of neurological injuries, such as stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. She became curious with how the brain functions especially after injury. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Science in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. Sue’s research aims to better understand the role of motor planning and how it contributes to motor performance after a stroke.

Cristina Rubino completed her BSc in Biology at York University and her MSc in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. Her graduate work with Dr. Jason Barton investigated the role of eye-movement training in patient populations with homonymous hemianopia. In the Brain Behaviour Lab at UBC, Cristina is interested in using neurophysiology and structural and functional neuroimaging to investigate the mechanisms associated with learning-dependent changes in stroke patients. Cristina plans to investigate the role of eye-movements during upper-extremity motor learning in healthy and stroke populations. Ultimately, her goal is to contribute to neurorehabilitation research and devise tools to improve the quality of life for those living with mobility and motor control limitations from stroke. Outside the lab, Cristina likes to explore new places through road biking, hiking, snowboarding, and playing Ultimate Frisbee.


Julia Schmidt is interested in understanding how changes in the brain impact a person’s function and everyday life. Specifically, she has two key interests: 1) how mild traumatic brain injury (i.e., concussion) affects brain connectivity and cognitive ability; and 2) how cognitive impairment after stroke affects motor learning and skill acquisition. Julia received her BSc in Occupational Therapy from The University of Alberta. She has over ten years of clinical experience in neurological rehabilitation, during which she identified critical gaps in the evidence, which together inform her research questions. Julia completed her PhD at the University of Queensland, Australia with studies including a randomised controlled trial and systematic review with meta-analysis. When Julia is not researching, she is running or biking or playing outside, preferably with her husband and two boys.


Katie Wadden completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at Memorial University of Newfoundland where she began her research career studying the effect of acute hypoxia on muscle contracile properties. Katie continued research in the field of exercise physiology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and completed a Masters of Science in Kinesiology. Her research interest was directed towards the role of the stretch shortening cycling (SSC) during slow and rapid SSC movements. She studied neuromuscular responses via electromyography (EMG) following different forms of SSC training. Currently Katie is pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. The aim of her research is to determine the role working memory plays in implicit motor learning. Her research will focus on studying the healthy brain through the use of TMS and brain imaging techniques during motor learning paradigms to further understand the role memory plays during the acquisition of motor skills.