Bojana KnezevicBojana Knezevic was all smiles in this photo, taken right after she successfully defended her dissertation.

Student discovers beauty of clinical neuropsychology in Windsor

During the five years she was in Windsor, Bojana Knezevic learned a tremendous amount about impulsivity and how an inability to delay gratification may lead to risky and potentially harmful behaviour.

She also learned a great deal about herself, not the least of which is that she isn’t an especially impulsive person.

“I learned that I’m a very curious individual,” said Knezevic, who recently completed her PhD in psychology with specialized training in clinical neuropsychology under the direction of professor Carlin Miller. “I have to sample a lot of different things before I make a decision.”

Academically, she did a fair bit of sampling while she was here. Originally from Belgrade, Knezevic was drawn to Windsor by the stellar reputation of the clinical neuropsychology program as well as the university’s proximity to the U.S., which she rightly believed offered the potential for an education with an international flavour.

She began by focusing her research on ADHD and the relations between impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour, earning a master’s degree here, but eventually turned more of her attention to neuropsychology. She got the chance for plenty of clinical work in Michigan, doing diagnostic assessments at a methadone clinic at Wayne State University’s Jefferson Avenue Research Clinic, and eventually studying cognitive recovery among patients with spinal cord and brain injuries at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, part of the Detroit Medical Centre system.

During her training, she delivered 18 conference presentations, published four papers, and has two currently under review. One of her papers focused on the connections between problem gambling and impulsivity, and was co-authored by David Ledgerwood, a professor in psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, and a UWindsor grad. It was published in The American Journal on Addictions, and Knezevic was listed as first author.

“You can have an international education,” said Knezevic, who moved with her family from Serbia to Toronto when she was 13 years old. “I really valued my experience here.”

Now she plans to broaden her range of experience by seeing some of the rest of the world. She plans to travel, and hopes to do clinical work in Kenya, and then return to Canada to find a post-doctoral fellowship in the fall of 2014. Eventually she would like to work in a medical setting where she can combine clinical practice with clinical research, but isn’t necessarily committing to anything just yet.

“It depends on what kind of opportunities open up,” said Knezevic, who earned her undergraduate degree at York University. “That’s the beautiful thing about this field. You have so many options to suit a variety of personalities and interests.”

As for her fondness for inquiry, she credits that to Dr. Miller, who she described as a “phenomenal supervisor.”

“Her and I really meshed well together,” said Knezevic, who became the first student to earn a PhD under Miller’s tutelage. “She always provided a great deal of support, but she knew when to push me too. She’s been a unique role model. She really instilled in me a love of research.”