2023 Carrie M. Derick Award for Graduate Supervision and Teaching

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Stefanie Blain-Moraes



Prof. Stefanie Blain-Moraes, Winner of the Carrie M. Derick Award for SupervisionStefanie Blain-Moraes, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy

Creating an optimal learning environment occurs through continuous, open dialogue between student and teacher.

Approach to graduate supervision

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned through graduate supervision has been that creating an optimal learning environment occurs through continuous, open dialogue between student and teacher, rather than from a set of static ideals, lab expectations, or syllabus guidelines. How do I teach my students to seek knowledge they don’t know that they don’t know, to recognize the assumptions they carry unawares, to imagine possibilities that do not exist, and to bring their imagined creations into reality? I recognize that these goals are ambitious, and I am working towards them with a continually evolving teaching approach grounded in three core beliefs about teaching and learning:

(1) Genuine learning about complex, real-world problems requires students to develop disciplinary agility.
(2) The best learning conditions arise when tackling real problems.
(3) Failure is an excellent teacher when students feel safe enough to embrace it.


I am an Associate Professor in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Consciousness and Personhood Technology. My research focuses on detecting consciousness in unresponsive individuals and developing assistive technologies to interact with minimally communicative persons. I have trained 39 highly qualified personnel and supervised an additional 56 undergraduate students for their capstone design projects. Collectively, my students have been awarded almost $1 million through 33 scholarships and fellowships, and have received national and international recognition for their research and contributions to academia. My teaching and training program was recognized with the 2020 Faculty of Medicine Teaching Innovation Award from McGill University and the 2023 Carrie M. Derrick prize for Graduate Teaching and Supervision.


Dr. Stefanie Blain-Moraes acts as a true advocate for her students, continuously striving to provide varied and personalized opportunities for our professional development. It is a rare gift to find a supervisor that not only takes a chance on, but fully backs her students—particularly in non-conventional academic trajectories.The unique experiences she has offered to hone my professional skills have been instrumental for stepping into my new role within and beyond academia, and her investment in her students’ success has been key to my motivation and confidence as a researcher.

Naila Kuhlman, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
BIAPT Lab, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGil University

Dr. Blain-Moraes served as my master’s thesis supervisor and demonstrated unmatched excellence and commitment to teaching, mentorship, and supporting her students’ professional development. Dr. Blain-Moraes’ dedication to engaging her students in her field of research; honing her students’ scientific skills; mentoring students through challenging career transitions; and setting students up for professional success is a testament to her caliber as a supervisor and teacher. Beyond all of this, Dr. Blain-Moraes has taught me what a fantastic mentor looks like, which will guide me as I seek out new mentors throughout my career and strive to be a good mentor to others.

Danielle Nadin, MSc,
Medical Writer & Learning Solutions Designer, Metrix Group
Co-Founder and Director of Finance, Black in Neuro
Co-Founder and Co-Director, SciComm Collective

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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