Angela Roberts, PhD was born in Memphis, Tennessee and has called Canada home since 2004 when she moved to accept a position at London Health Sciences Centre. Growing up in Tennessee, she has a love for southern food and a fierce knowledge of Kentucky bourbon.

What makes for a great workday? 

  1. Learning something new.
  2. Touching the life of either a student or a patient. Having the chance to make a difference and to both contribute to and extract from the world of science and knowledge are two of the greatest rewards of my career.

Why did you choose your profession? 

I chose rehabilitation sciences because I’m committed to translating the science of how the brain functions into clinical interventions and education/training programs that improve quality of life for persons living with cognitive-communication challenges and their family caregivers. I also wanted to better understand how the phenotypic presentations of these disorders reflect underlying changes in the brain.

What excites you about ONDRI?

I’m inspired by the unique opportunities for collaboration that exist within the project. We truly have the opportunity to do something very special here. Researchers, clinicians, neuroinformatics experts, community partners, and commercial partners have the chance to interact and to inform each other’s work – to truly translate knowledge from bench to bedside and vice versa.

The breadth of this project and the opportunity it presents to discover commonalities and differences in the underlying neurological, neuropathological, and genetic changes and the subsequent behavioural manifestations among disorders is incredible.

What’s your role with ONDRI?

Along with my colleagues, I worked to develop the neuropsychology component of ONDRI and I’ve worked with ONDRI since its inception. I have a keen interest in developing disorder-specific profiles of speech and cognitive-linguistic disruptions among disease groups and exploring how these profiles relate to neuroimaging, genetic, and motor profiles.

Tell us about your research and expertise. 

My expertise is in motor speech, cognition, and language in neurodegenerative disorders. My work has focused on Parkinson’s, ALS, and FTD. I’m interested in semantics and the coupling between motor cognition and language.

One of my unique research areas is the use of spontaneous spoken language to discriminate among dementia profiles and the use of spoken discourse to detect early changes in cognition and language that may not be detected on traditional structured, more formal, measures of language and cognition.

I’m currently completing my post-doctoral fellowship in cognitive neurology with Dr. Elizabeth Finger at Lawson Health Research Institute. I completed my PhD in health and rehabilitation sciences at Western University and my MA and BA at The University of Tennessee.

What award did you recently receive?

I’m a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal of Honour and I’ve recently been appointed to the Parkinson Society Canada Research Policy Committee.

I also received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellowship for my PhD training and the Parkwood Endowed Fellowship in Care of the Aging for my post-doctoral work.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Detail oriented and fastidious, especially when it comes to research. I’m meticulous with research methodology and exhaustive in terms of integrating research results into existing theories/literature and clinical relevance.

What charities are you involved with? 

I support the Parkinson Society Canada and Alzheimer’s Outreach Services and I do all that I can to support the programs that they provide to persons living with cognitive-communication impairments and their care partners.

I wish I had more time for… reading for pleasure and traveling.

My favourite moment of the day is… early morning before the cacophony of human sounds begin and nature can be easily heard and experienced.

What unique skills do you possess?

I play the cello.

Favorite author?

Hands down, Jose Saramago. Second favourite is William Faulkner.