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PhD during a pandemic
Matt Baker, an alumnus of Acadia University, was introduced to Dr Derek Rutherford in 2013 with the recommendation to consider the School of Physiotherapy’s MSc Rehabilitation Research program as an option for continued graduate studies.
Dr. Rutherford was a new professor with ties to Biomedical Engineering, Kinesiology and Physiotherapy at Dalhousie, who had funding to build what would become the Joint Action Research (JAR) Lab. "The opportunity to work alongside a professor at the beginning of his career and the opportunity to assist in building a biomechanics gait lab seemed like an amazing opportunity." shared Matt.
“Matt's drive and curiosity made him vital in lab development, ongoing research productivity and knowledge dissemination” says, Dr. Rutherford.
Two years later Matt made a choice to continue his journey with School of Physiotherapy faculty members, Dr. Derek Rutherford and Dr. Cheryl Kozey, as a student in the newly formed PhD in Health program offered through the Faculty of Health. Matt’s choice to continue his studies in the JAR Lab was heavily weighted on the relationship between clinical and research worlds. The JAR lab is located within and heavily involved with the School of Physiotherapy and it's operations. The opportunity to be involved in the training of physiotherapists, getting an opportunity to instill evidence-based clinical approaches while receiving clinical context for gait biomechanics in those with knee pathologies, created an environment that seems unmatched in graduate degrees across Canada.
“These experiences allowed me the opportunity to understand the gaps that exist in implementing gait analysis in clinical settings, but also the potential that gait provides in improving care for those with musculoskeletal disease and injury”, explains Matt.
These experiences inspired Matt’s current career trajectory towards industry. Matt completed his PhD in August 2020, and immediately started his career working in collaboration with three industry partners, Kinduct Technologies, OrthoMX Technologies and Emovi, implementing gait analysis and data digitization technologies in health care settings. His experiences working as a part of a multidisciplinary team at Dalhousie has directly benefited his day-to-day workflow, as he works alongside physiotherapist and orthopaedic surgeons to improve their workflow and patient outcomes. Matt says, “Dr. Rutherford and Dr. Kozey always instilled confidence and supported my direction towards industry - an unconventional path in academic pursuits.”
Dalhousie University, the Faculty of Health and the School of Physiotherapy have all benefitted from the insights and skills Dr. Matt Baker brought to both the MSc Rehabilitation Research Program and the PhD in Health Program. We have no doubt that he will meet every success wherever his career journey takes him.
Dr. Baker was supported throughout his graduate education through NSHRF Scotia Scholarship, the CIHR - Canadian Graduate Scholarship and Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship. In addition Dr. Baker was a recipient of the prestigious Killam Scholarship - clearly recognizing his academic excellence and research potential.