Sarah Valkenborghs

Jennie Thomas Travel Grant Winner 2015

Area of Research

Sarah's doctoral research trial investigated whether a combination of aerobic exercise training and task-specific upper limb training can improve outcomes of upper limb function in stroke survivors. Her study is titled Aerobic Exercise and Consecutive Task-specific Training (AExaCTT).

Read more about Sarah at:

My Jennie Thomas Travelling Scholarship Experience

Using my Jennie Thomas travel grant, I went to the BACH Lab at the University of Pittsburgh to work with one of the project co-investigator, Prof. Kirk Erickson, and his team. There I spent a lot of time analysing functional and structural brain MRIs of research participants who had undergone aerobic exercise interventions.

I also went to the United Kingdom to attend the UK Stroke Forum, Later Life Training conference, and a Research Methods course at the University of Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit.

The grant also allowed me to attend the 2016 Asia Pacific Stroke Conference in Brisbane and the 2016 SmartStrokes Conference in Canberra to present the protocol paper for my trial.

Beyond the Grant

My trip to the US and UK really enhanced my knowledge and skillset both as a researcher generally and specifically to my trial. Attending and presenting at the conferences enabled me to increase awareness of myself and my research and also receive some really useful critical peer-review and feedback.

I have a better working relationship with my international collaborator since my visit and have maintained links with his PhD and Post-Doc research students (whom I spent a lot of time with during my visit). Networking opportunities in the UK and Australia has resulted in me developing several key contacts with whom I have had ongoing discussions with regarding current and future collaborations, which is very promising for future career opportunities.


Sarah working with one of her participants during the AExaCTT trial

The Cathedral of Learning, the second tallest university building in the world

Sarah in New York City

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