Q: What is your research area and why does it interest you?
A: I study neuroscience and exercise physiology. More specifically, I’m interested in the therapeutic mechanisms of exercise in Parkinson’s disease. I think the future of health care is an integrative, interdisciplinary approach that incorporates multiple styles of therapy including exercise. The general benefits of exercise are commonly known, but showing the neurological benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s disease will help solidify the use of exercise as an adjunct therapy.
While completing my BSc in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa, I worked as a personal trainer, and one of my clients had Parkinson’s disease. At the time I didn’t know much about the disease, but I noticed that his symptoms disappeared during training. This serendipitous opportunity motivated me to start investigating the therapeutic effects of exercise in Parkinson’s diseases.
Q: What's the best advice you've ever received?
A: “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” One of my high school teachers was the first to give me this advice. It reminds me to stay humble and always learn new things.
Q: What do you like to do when you're not working?
A: I am a sports fanatic, so I like to stay active. Baseball was my main sport growing up and, although my playing days are over, I stay connected by coaching Little League in Dunbar. You can also find me on the golf course in the summer or snowboarding in the winter.
Q: If you won a free vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: My dad and I have a life-long dream of visiting every Major League Baseball diamond. We are slowly checking them off one by one. A dream vacation would be a summer-long baseball road trip that hits all the parks.
Q: What would you be doing if you weren't a researcher?
A: I would be a professional chef. I love to cook and, growing up in an Italian family, food has always brought family and friends together.
Q: What is one thing that your colleagues might not know about you?
A: I collect hats. I’ve collected them since I was a kid and I have over 100 so far. Unsurprisingly, most of them are from baseball teams. Lastly, I would like to thank the doctors and staff at the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Center for their professional and educational support.