#UofTMed TRP Student Profile – Naomi Zingman-Daniels
Name: Naomi Zingman-Daniels
Country of Origin: The United States of America
Previous Education: B.Sc. in Psychology, Minor Biology from Northeastern University, US
What has been the most meaningful experiences you have gained during your first year of the TRP?
Attracted by the local hospital and start-up communities and the prospect of continuing in a field I loved and giving myself a real opportunity for advancement, in the fall of 2018, I moved from Boston to Toronto for the Translational Research Program. The connections the program has in the community have allowed me to make more connections and do more work than I imagined I’d do within my first few years after graduate school, let alone during graduate school. Since I didn’t know anyone here when I moved, I threw myself into this network and community with fervour (or, probably more accurately, vague panic) when I moved here, and I’ve been lucky enough to land some really incredible opportunities, from working in the UHN to helping the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute look at their intellectual property, to presenting at rounds at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
The TRP has allowed me to explore my interests in accessibility, technology, and care delivery from new standpoints and from a more holistic viewpoint than I’d been able to previously. Much of my previous work in this field was in activism, or academic research – each valuable in their own right, but neither, I found, were creating the impact that I was looking for. I wanted to work in a way that took my favourite parts of both and affected real change. The collaborative experiences here between not only students coming from wildly different paths and walks of life but also advocates, hospitals, and local community and government organizations, have given me a chance to jump in, feet first, into a new community and health system. The patient and end-user-focused bend to the research is wonderful to me given my advocacy background, and I’ve had the chance to explore how to combine that into my research.
I’ve gotten a chance to do so much here, and as I begin my capstone looking at delivery of pediatric emergency care across the province, I’m incredibly excited to continue refining my research and advocacy skills and combining them to be as powerful of an advocate and researcher as I can be as I continue my career.
Why the Faculty of Medicine?
Since high school, I have been interested in health-related topics and the best ways to be able to reach and positively affect the health of those around me. The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine is internationally recognized, a huge pull for an international student like me. With both strong clinical research and entrepreneurship presence and reputation, it felt like a perfect place to start my graduate and postgraduate career in collaborative health space.
Why the Translational Research Program?
My career and educational path have been a surprisingly cohesive journey of wandering. Up until recently, with very little end-goal in mind. I always enjoyed things related to health and I’ve been involved in accessibility advocacy since I was in high school. I was always fascinated by how society and health interact. Throughout my undergraduate years, I found myself spending my time in a basement lab working on neuroimaging, and imagined that I’d probably pursue a career doing more of the same since I reasonably enjoyed it and I had a few years worth of experience. I had never heard of translational research until that point, but my post-grad job search took me on a wider forage than I’d originally imagined, and I ended up working at one of the US centers for translation research assisting on robotic exosuit research. While I fell into the field, I’ve also fallen in love with the collaborative, patient-focused, and hands-on aspects of it, and when it came time to look at graduate schools, I decided that this was the field that I could see myself in terms of my career – so I took the leap and applied to the TRP.
Current Research Experience
I have worked in neuroimaging, clinical, biomechanical, and rehabilitation research. Currently, I am working at the Toronto Rehab Institute – KITE in assisting cataloguing their intellectual property. I also work as a researcher and project lead in program evaluation and knowledge translation with an assistive technology start-up company focusing on smart technology implementation to increase independence for those with mobility challenges.
Future Education Plans and/or Career Goals
After the completion of my master’s program, I plan on continuing my work in the rehabilitation, disability, and technology space. From my work in Boston through my experiences here, I have learned how passionate I am about this work and how much I feel that there is room for growth and for helping people. By continuing to work collaboratively across specialties, spaces, and demographics, I hope to be able to assist in creating an accessible and inclusive society.