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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
December 5, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Simon Sharples, Student

When Simon Sharples began his undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2006, he had plans to become a doctor. But over time his focus changed to research – a new direction that has earned the kinesiology and physical education master’s student a scholarship that will help fund his studies on Parkinson’s disease.

Understanding the mechanisms that allow people to perform movements with only one hand is the focus of Sharples research, who was recently awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship.

“This Industrial Partnership scholarship will provide me with the means to expand my breadth of knowledge and experience within the field of neuroscience,” said Sharples. “At the same time it will provide me with the means to dedicate more time toward my research pursuits.”

Sharples is particularly interested in researching mirror movements, which are unwanted movements that occur on the opposite side of the body – a symptom typical of Parkinson’s disease. Mirror movements can be studied using a technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which allows researchers to assess how neuronal circuits react by either blocking or allowing movement.

As part of the scholarship, Sharples will work with Northern Digital Inc. (NDI), a company that manufactures optic-based motion tracking systems to ensure the magnetic coils used in TMS are placed in the same area of the brain every time. NDI is also partially funding his scholarship.

The research is being conducted under the supervision of Jayne Kalmar, assistant professor of kinesiology and physical education, and in collaboration with Quincy Almeida, director of Laurier’s Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research and Rehabilitation Centre (MDRC).

“None of this could have happened without their guidance and inspiration,” said Sharples.