Dr. Richelle Mychasiuk is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, in the Department of Psychology. Her research is focused on understanding how perinatal experiences alter neuroplasticity of the developing brain. She is primarily interested in how early changes in cognitive reserve influence concussion susceptibility and the manifestation of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and ASD.
Dr. Mychasiuk utilizes behavioural, epigenetic, and anatomical tools to understand the relationship between early experiences and brain plasticity. The focus of her PhD and Postdoctoral work has been investigation of the fetal programming theory and understanding the mechanisms by which early experiences can compromise long-term neurological functioning. The phenomena known as fetal/early programming promotes stable modifications to the epigenome (the complex regulatory network of heritable modifications that regulate genetic function without altering the actual genome) that may paradoxically increase an individual’s risk for disease and dysfunction later in life if there are discrepancies between early and long-term environmental exposures. Although the epigenome and the brain are especially plastic during the perinatal period, the alterations made during programming are persistent and often difficult to modify later in life. Thus, changes to the epigenome of the brain that are induced by early programming may contribute to individual differences in risk for neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative disorders such as autism or dementia.
Dr. Mychasiuk completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary in the Faculty of Medicine, and her PhD research at the University of Lethbridge: Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience with Dr. Bryan Kolb. She has a Masters in Forensic Science with a specialization in Forensic Molecular Biology from the George Washington University in Washington D.C. and two Bachelors of Science degrees from the University of Calgary; a BSc in Cellular, Molecular & Microbial Biology and a BSc in Psychology.