Inspiring the Next Generation of Research Leaders
In the homestretch of her doctoral studies, Rachel Eddy, PhD’20, faced a now all-too-familiar obstacle. From her thesis defense to major conference presentations, the COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupted what she had been working toward for five years.
But support from a donor-funded scholarship provided stability and reassurance.
Eddy is the inaugural recipient of the Brian Reid Graduate Scholarship, which recognizes academic achievement and research merit among trainees in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
“There is a lot of personal and professional development that occurs in the transition from PhD studies to thesis defense and career preparation. It is challenging at the best of times,” she said. “The Scholarship provided me with support and stability at a time of great uncertainty. It enabled me to be resilient and to stay focused on my goals.”
The Scholarship’s namesake, Brian Reid, was an aspiring doctoral candidate with the Department when he passed away tragically in 1991 at the age of 26. He is remembered as a passionate young scientist, who was completely engrossed in imaging research at Robarts Research Institute.
The Scholarship was initiated by a donation from David Jaffray, PhD’88, and Stasia Jaffray, BSc’88, MClSc’90, in memory of Reid, a classmate and friend. A number of additional researchers who worked with Reid have come together to contribute to the fund.
“Many of us knew Brian well and we are fortunate to recall his impact on our lives by initiating this award in his memory,” said David Jaffray.
With future support from donors, the goal is to convert the Scholarship to an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, which will provide additional financial support for trainees.
"THE SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDED ME WITH SUPPORT AND STABILITY SUPPORT AND STABILITY AT A TIME OF GREAT UNCERTAINTY." — RACHEL EDDY, PhD’20
“I am grateful to not only receive this award in Brian Reid’s memory, but also to be its inaugural recipient,” said Eddy. “The award is a humbling reminder of the importance and value of research. It’s a reminder to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and the impact we, as researchers, can have on patients.”
Eddy’s research is focused on imaging the lungs to better understand and treat diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Recognized for research excellence throughout her studies, she also received the Collip Medal Award in 2020, presented to the most outstanding PhD student graduating from the School.
After defending her PhD thesis via Zoom in early April, Eddy is now pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia, continuing her research on lung imaging and leading the establishment of pulmonary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) programs at St. Paul’s Hospital Centre for Heart Lung Innovation and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute.
“These two sites will enable us to study lung disease across the lifespan, in children, adults and seniors,” she explained. “This will help us better understand how lung disease evolves over time and to develop new ways to treat it.”
She says receiving such a meaningful scholarship inspires her as she begins a new phase of her career. “Being a trainee at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry taught me the value of mentorship. I’m fortunate to have had fantastic mentors during my training and I strive to pay that forward,” she said. “In this way, I hope I can give back to the School, and carry the spirit of mentorship wherever my career takes me.”