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Laurier graduate awarded scholarship to conduct research with the MDRC
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Laurier graduate Kaylena Ehgoetz Martens (BSc ’10) has won a Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), to research perceptual deficits in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Ehgoetz Martens will be building on her undergraduate research conducted at Laurier’s Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research & Rehabilitation Centre (MDRC). Ehgoetz Martens won an NSERC undergraduate summer research award to help Laurier professor Quincy Almeida research how and why obstacles like doorways cause some patients to freeze when walking.
Prior to winning her NSERC award, Ehgoetz Martens was the recipient of an NCR Waterloo Scholarship award. She also presented the findings from earlier MDRC research projects at two international conferences, a unique opportunity for an undergraduate student.
“Kaylena has shown tremendous potential through her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Laurier,” said Almeida. “It is great to see that she will continue in research and receive awards beyond what she has already been awarded in her undergraduate degree.”
Ehgoetz Martens’ CIHR grant, valued at $17,500, will fund the first year of her accelerated master’s/PhD program at the University of Waterloo beginning in September. Her graduate work will be co-supervised by Almeida and University of Waterloo professor Colin Ellard.
“I was ecstatic to be able to continue the research I started at the MDRC,” said Ehgoetz Martens. “The grant will relieve me of some of my teaching assistant responsibilities, allowing me to have more time to focus on my research studies.”
The MDRC recently received a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funded virtual reality equipment to study patients. Almeida said testing patients in virtual environments has been a goal for his research group, and that Ehgoetz Martens will be one of the first to use the technology.
“Kaylena's work will bridge a collaboration between the University of Waterloo and the MDRC at Laurier,” he said. “The work she has proposed is unique in that it considers novel sensory and perceptual mechanisms that may underlie walking deficits in Parkinson's disease. The partnership between the University of Waterloo and Laurier will allow her to make use of virtual reality to study these issues.”