Education and Professional Standing
FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellow, McMaster University, 2015
NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, McMaster University, 2012
EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Edinburgh, 2010
PhD, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 2009
BA, Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, 2003
BSc, Department of Physiology, University of Saskatchewan, 2002
Disorders of the nervous system are one of the leading causes of disability within Canada. Elucidation of the dynamic molecular and cellular relationships that govern development and neuroplasticity within the nervous system is at the heart of understanding the underlying causes and advancing therapeutic strategies. My research lies in uncovering the inter- and intra-cellular activity driving neuroplasticity and elucidating the molecular mechanisms that govern these interactions during development or neurological stress. While neurons provide the essential wiring within the nervous system, glial cells are responsible for a myriad of functions that determine the quality, maintenance, and re-growth of lost connections. I am particularly fascinated by the ever-expanding roles discovered for glial cells in regulating basic neural physiology, and examine these in respect to three main themes:
1) Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Here, we focus on a subset of glial cells, the astrocytes, which are intimately associated with neurons during development and at localized points of neuronal connections. Our current work examines how changes in astrocyte physiology and signalling underscore the abnormal neural circuitry in developmental diseases, such as Fragile X Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
2) Neurological Stress
In response to physiological stress, the mammalian nervous system undergoes either adaptive or maladaptive changes that determine the level of recovery or tolerance of the system. Characterizing glial physiology under extreme conditions is a key component of understanding these changes and functional consequences. One of the most common stresses with devastating consequences in the nervous system is hypoxia (low levels of oxygen), which results from an array of conditions, including: trauma, damage or a blockage of blood vessels, developmental abnormalities to vasculature, fetal and prenatal complications, or environmental conditions. I am particularly interested in the role of astrocytes in these conditions given their close association with blood vessels and oxygen sensitivity. Understanding the interplay between the vasculature, glial and neuronal cells during periods of hypoxia has broad implications to neurological injury and recovery.
3) Adaptive Neuroplasticity
In an effort to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms governing adaptive neuroplasticity, we use comparative model species that have adapted to extreme neurological conditions. Our investigations include model species such as zebrafish, a highly regenerative and hypoxia tolerant species; as well as high-altitude deer mice, a mammalian model of hypoxia adaptation. These models offer great insight into novel mechanisms of neuroplasticity and the cellular and molecular factors driving adaptive responses.
Dr. Scott is currently involved in teaching within the Education Program in Anatomy. She teaches Neuroanatomy in the Undergraduate Medical Program within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Rida Malik (MSc)
Amanda Poxon (4th year thesis)
Chloe Wong (4th year thesis)
David Shin (3rd year project)