Year in Review 2021 – UBC Department of Physical Therapy


It seems amazing that we are already at the end of another year. 2021 was decidedly busy and productive despite the significant challenges of the ongoing pandemic and the effects of climate change. My heart goes out to all who were affected personally and/or professionally by these difficult circumstances, along with my sincere thanks for keeping the Department moving forward. I am filled with admiration for the resilience and tenacity of those who continued to contribute so wholeheartedly to our Department despite personal difficulties. Thank you all so much.  

As you read through this update, it is heart-warming to see how much we collectively managed to achieve this year from educational and research perspectives. Despite getting research programs up and running again after the Covid lockdowns and integrating ongoing restrictions and safety requirements into the classroom, we have addressed many of the priorities in our updated strategic plan. JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) has been one of our most important foci this year and will continue to be, moving forward. We are also actively engaged in looking at how we can better serve our Indigenous students, faculty and staff.  

I wish you all very happy holidays over the next couple of weeks. I look forward to working with you again in 2022.   

Sue Murphy
Head, Department of Physical Therapy 

We would like to acknowledge the amazing promotions that happened in 2021: 

  • Keith Warner-Harder – Promoted to Senior Program Assistant 
  • Stacy Wells – Promoted to Communications Coordinator 

We would like to welcome all of the new faculty and staff members who joined us in 2021: 

Angelina Woof
Associate Head of Clinical Education 

Daniella Pietrocarlo
Assistant to the Department Head 

Dawn Zucchelli
Student Services Officer 

Pedro Grossi
Program Assistant 

Maria Yap
HR Clerk 

Rehana Nanjijuma
Justice Equity Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Implementation Coordinator 

Wendy Ma
Interim Programs Manager 

Rebecca Levasseur
MPT-North Program Assistant 

Afton Zral
MPT-North Classroom Support 

A look back in 2021:

MPT Program

The MPT Program started off the year strong with almost 400 applicants for the 100 seats in the 2021-2023 cohort.

In March, the top candidates of these hopeful future PTs were interviewed virtually for the first time ever. Thank you to our amazing staff and community for all of your help putting this together and getting it done!

Together with the Faculty of Medicine and the PT community, we virtually welcomed 100 new students to the UBC Master of Physical Therapy Program, which included the second cohort of 20 students in the MPT-North program at UNBC. 

Students began a new year of classes, both remotely and on-site, with video connected lab sessions between the UBC and UNBC campuses.

In November, we congratulated the MPT class of 2021 as they graduated despite the Covid challenges. 

With the Northern and Rural Cohort (NRC) coming to an end in 2021, we would like to express our gratitude and thanks to all who brought the vision of the program to life and extended their hard work into implementing the MPT-North program which expands access to care for communities across the province. 

Starting in 2022, we will have our first-ever MPT Fraser Valley cohortThe MPT-FV cohort will be located at  UBC’s Point Grey campus for the first year and will be subsequently relocated to Surrey once facility renovations are complete. The MPT-FV cohort will be located very close to Surrey Memorial Hospital.  


Clinical Education Successes of 2021

The Department welcomed Angelina Woof as the new Associate Head, Clinical Education in August and sends our sincere thanks appreciation to Karen Sauve for her previous 3 years in the role.  

Our incredible clinical partners stepped up to offer sufficient clinical placements for the 2019-2021 cohort’s final two placements this past summer and fall.  

Our 2020-2022 cohort ended 2021 with their third clinical placement (2A) 

The clinical education team offered virtual clinical education workshops and in-services through the first half of 2021 to support our clinical educators in adapting to clinical education during COVID-19 and to familiarize themselves with the supervision of MPT students.  

We set a new record number of applications for Clinical Faculty Appointments with a total of 70 in 2021.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we brought 14 new clinical sites on board in 2021. 



Congratulations to all of the MSc/PhD students that graduated in 2021: 

  • Kimberly Bennett – MSc – (supervised by Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose) 
  • Brianna Chau – MSc – (supervised by Dr Lara Boyd) 
  • Dennis Louie – PhD – (supervised by Dr Janice Eng) 
  • Elizaveta Mojaeva – MSc – (supervised by Dr Alex Scott) 
  • Jennifer Leese – PhD- (supervised by Dr Linda Li) 

Faculty members of the Department received over $4.7 million in research funding, over $600K in scholar awards, and generated 115 peer-reviewed publications over the last year. Our researchers were able to successfully pivot current research activities, including developing innovative ways to safely deliver virtual exercise programming to individuals with a variety of health conditions, as well as develop new lines of research. 

Dr Jordan Guenette published an influential manuscript on the physiological and perceptual effects of face masks during exercise. This COVID-19 related manuscript was published at a time where many believed there were dangers associated with wearing face masks during exercise.  

Keeping track of symptoms and treatment is important for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to live well. This is why Dr Linda Li developed an online tracking tool, OPERAS (On-demand Program to EmpoweR Active Self-management) that is now being tested in a randomized control study. Dr. Li’s team has heard from patient partners and study participants about the new challenges to managing their health during the pandemic. 

Dr Campbell provided needed resources to therapists who were providing virtual care to women who are undergoing or have completed treatment for breast cancer. Her team makes the resource, “How to measure your arm” available on her lab website. This resource is a validated approach that her lab team developed and tested for women to measure their own arm for tracking lymphedema. Since March 2020, it has been used by clinicians around the world. 

The 2021 Top Doctoral Student and Rising Star Award Recipients were announced with 4 of the 7 rising star awards were won by trainees from our department, and Rachel Crockett and Jennifer Ferris received the top graduating doctoral student award.  

UBC Physical Therapy & Research Clinic in 2020

The Physical Therapy & Research Clinic (PTRC) team supported 29 MPT students through clinical placements in 2021. Since January 2021, we have assessed in excess of 200 participants. Our students are typically fully booked 2 weeks in advance, and we have hired a new graduate, Gavin Tonkin, to help manage our caseload. 

The PTRC has expanded partnerships across the UBC campus, including treating varsity athletes. The clinic also partnered with the School of Audiology and Speech Science in their own pilot project student-led clinic. Students met monthly for joint rounds to discuss mutual clients, co-treat and observe the other health care team at work. 

The PTRC students are actively involved in assessing and striating BC Brain Wellness Program (BWP) participants into group classes. The assessment is mostly done virtually. In some cases, participants choose to come to see the PT students in person in addition to doing online classes. One of our participants, Joseé, has been working with students over the past year, working on specific goals and she is continuing to improve. 

The PTRC is also becoming a key option for people being discharged from GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. We currently have 6 clients in our caseload that have transitioned from GF Strong outpatients to community care and PT services at the clinic. 

The PTRC team is excited to continue expanding partnerships and collaborative practice opportunities throughout the community to offer rich learning for students and comprehensive care for clients.

View all of our news from 2021