People in profile: Jessie McDougall

Meet Jessie—Finding the pain points in injury recovery.

Q: What is your role in health research?
I am a first year student in the joint Master of Physiotherapy (MPT)/PhD program at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. I am completing both the Master’s and PhD degree concurrently and I’m working towards becoming a clinician-scientist.

Q: What is your research area of interest, and what led you to that?
Generally, my research area of interest is pain. But more specifically, I want to find ways of preventing chronic pain from developing after an injury. I am currently looking at using exercise and placebo to manipulate the body’s pain processing systems, in both healthy people and people suffering from chronic shoulder injuries.

My own experience really inspired my interest in this area of research. While playing soccer I suffered a serious injury that progressed into a chronic issue. The extensive rehabilitation I needed for this injury sparked my curiosity about how we, as humans, view pain and how chronic pain develops. 

Q: What is the best part about your research job?
I really enjoy all the learning opportunities—not only from my own work and academic pursuits, but also the knowledge sharing that occurs between other investigators and scientists. Learning from and collaborating with other keen learners—and getting paid to do this—is incredible! I also love meeting other researchers at all points in their careers and hearing about their projects and passions. 

Q: What is one of the biggest accomplishments of your research career?
This past year has been full of accomplishments for me! I published my first three papers, which feels very big to me. I also feel I have reached one of my research goals by being in the MPT/PhD program, as I am very interested in becoming a clinician-scientist and this is an important step towards reaching that goal. I was also awarded a WorkSafeBC Research in Training Award, the Jane Hudson Scholarship and a VCHRI Rising Star Award this year for my research. 

Q: What do you do for fun in your free time? 
I love being outdoors. I live in Squamish so I do quite a bit of hiking, skiing and rock climbing. Recently I’ve started mountaineering, as it combines all of those activities. 

Q: Who inspires you?
I am inspired by anyone who is truly passionate about what they do, whether that’s innovative research or an epic ski adventure (like Cody Townsend, a professional skier who is embarking on an ambitious project to hike and ski 50 of the biggest mountains in North America). Just seeing someone who is doing the thing they love really inspires me. 

Q: What was your first job?
 My first job was working for my dad. He’s a geotechnical engineer and I worked in his lab testing dirt. Looking back on my time there, I’m pretty sure I did not do a great job (as demonstrated by my description of his work as “testing dirt”).

Q: What’s your favourite book? 
My favourite book is probably The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is a very sad story, but it also forces us to appreciate the goodness and beauty all around us. I have read it many, many times and recommend it to everyone. 

Q: What’s one thing we might be surprised to learn about you? 
I have a secret hobby: embroidery and cross stitching!

Jessie McDougall is a PhD student in UBC’s MPT/PhD program studying how exercise and placebo can be used to change people’s pain perceptions. She also completed a Master’s in Kinesiology at UBC, studying how rock climber’s pain perceptions are influenced by how they cope with pain. She works with primary investigator Dr. John Kramer at ICORD. 


Share this article