Mael Gagnon-Mailhot

Mael Gagnon-Mailhot

Understanding the Human Mind

Maël Gagnon-Mailhot

Maël Gagnon-Mailhot started his journey at Bishop’s University studying the arts, but found his passion after taking classes in Psychology and Biology. “After taking these courses, I came to love it more and more, especially the human interaction aspect”, he says. Switching into Neuroscience, the 26-year-old Sherbrooke resident became a research assistant at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS) studying pain. He had the chance to pursue his studies with his supervisor, but when his supervisor received a promotion to a different department, Maël started to search for ways he can continue his work.

For a few months, Maël was communicating with the Director of the Research Centre from Oxford University. They had been exchanging emails about his academic interests and then was offered the chance of a lifetime. “She invited me to come to Oxford to continue my research”, he says. Thanks to the B.E.S.T. Project Fund, he will be spending the whole summer at the prestigious institution working with world-renowned researchers. He will have the chance to learn about brain imaging techniques, specifically looking at the effects of anesthesia on pain. “This is an incredible opportunity that will not only further improve my skills but also help develop my knowledge in brain imaging that I will bring back to my lab at the  CHUS and at Bishop’s when I will be working on a project with Dr. Adrianna Mendrek”, he explains. Additionally, his experience at Oxford will help forge a path to his future academic endeavors. “I want to do my graduate studies in clinical psychology but I want to continue my research, and my B.E.S.T. project will give me the chance to gain experience that will allow me to do both”, he says.

Upon his return to Sherbrooke, the persevering young man plans to organize seminars on brain imaging that will inform his colleagues and open possibilities for those interested in this type of research. “These talks will allow students to see more closely how brain imaging equipment works because we do not really learn about these things in our classes”, he declares. In the future, he hopes to inspire more students to become interested in this particular field of study.

Maël urges students to strive for their aspirations even if it seems intimidating. He encourages them to take that first step. “You need to try before you succeed”, he conveys, “If there is a project you are passionate about and you need an extra hand to give you that head start, don’t be afraid to seek out that support.”