Fall graduate Dr. Stephanie Blandford wanted to try something new for her doctorate.
Dr. Blandford earned a bachelor of science (honours) in neuroscience and a master of science in anatomy, neurobiology and neurosciences from Dalhousie University. She was ready for a change and began investigating doctoral programs with that in mind.
One day, she attended a presentation by Dr. Craig Moore, an associate professor of neuroimmunology in the Faculty of Medicine. He sparked her interest in Memorial.
“His work was very interesting to me,” said Dr. Blandford, who hails from Winnipeg, Man. “I knew he was looking for PhD students, so I approached him with my interest in his program and ended up starting in his lab at Memorial about a year later.”
Awards and publications
While working towards her doctor of philosophy degree, Dr. Blandford received several fellowships, awards and other accolades.
They include the Faculty of Medicine’s Dean’s Fellowship in 2017, the endMS four-year doctoral fellowship in 2018 and Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis educational grants in 2020 and 2021.
Along with her “superb” research and technical abilities, Dr. Blandford was an active lab participant who helped trained junior students, says Dr. Moore, a Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience and Brain Repair.
“Stephanie is widely admired within our department by students, staff and faculty,” he said. “She served as an excellent ambassador of my lab and of multiple sclerosis research as a whole.”
Mentors and friends
Dr. Blandford says she received positive support from both Faculty of Medicine faculty and staff, and found “wonderful” mentors in the Division of BioMedical Sciences, which hosts the neuroscience graduate program.
“The staff have been incredibly helpful,” she said. “Many have become my friends over the years.”
“The experience has been life-changing.”
She also says she found valuable support and help through Memorial’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
“Grad school is gruelling, but the experience has been life-changing. I’ve made so many friends along the way, each of whom has helped me get to this point — and whom I would never have met without Memorial bringing us together.”
With her PhD complete, Dr. Blandford is on a short-term post-doctoral contract with Dr. Moore until December. She is putting the finishing touches on her last project and is helping to train newer students. Afterward, she plans to take a few months to decide where her career will take her next.
Dr. Blandford will collect her degree during fall convocation at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Oct. 20. Her family have flown in to watch her walk across the stage.
“I’m sure it will be an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”