Faces of U of T Medicine: Tyler Saumur
What does your research focus on and what sparked your interest in this field of study?
I have always had an interest in the human body, especially in the context of enhancing task performance. During my undergraduate degree in kinesiology, I began to develop a passion for studying the brain. In parallel, a friend of mine had experienced a stroke. Being able to understand the changes and rehabilitation that she was undergoing with the biological context that I was studying in tandem, further accentuated my desire to pursue movement and brain sciences.
My research focuses on understanding how the body prepares for unpredictability in the environment. Specifically, it is centered on changes in the sensitivity of the central nervous system (CNS) during preparation for movements that need to be performed rapidly and correctly.
What have been some of the most rewarding moments at U of T?
I think I would have to start with the big one – successfully defending my thesis. You put so much time and effort into your studies, and being able to celebrate your accomplishments is a very rewarding experience. Being in the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, specifically apart of our graduate student union, I have been able to see the growth of the students in the past 2 years. Developing students’ initiatives and experiences, while participating in them myself and embracing our student culture has been a great experience for me.
What kind of things helped you get through the stressful or challenging times?
U of T has some great resources to help you cope and develop strategies to manage stress. I was lucky enough to have a great support core in my family and friends, who were always open to listening to me vent and providing sympathy. Coming home to a supportive environment has always been helpful, whether it meant just watching some TV with my fiancée to take my mind off my work or going for a walk and enjoying the scenery of Toronto.
Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your plans after graduation?
In five years, I hope to have completed my PhD. For me, there is still a vast amount of knowledge and skills that I would like to obtain before applying them in the work place. Once I have graduated, I hope to find a postdoc in a related field or find work in research at the industry, government, or start-up level.
What advice would you give new and incoming students?
Embrace the experience, get involved, and find time to enjoy yourself.
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