Graduate student receives national award for research innovation


Graduate student receives national award for research innovation

Queen’s researcher recognized for creating support programs for families of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

By Mitchell Fox

December 19, 2022


The pandemic brought many changes to daily routines and family dynamics. As more time was spent at home and in-person support systems became unavailable, many families who were experiencing aggression in children with neurodevelopmental disabilities saw problematic behaviours increase.

Maude Champagne and James Reynolds
PhD student Maude Champagne, seen here with James Reynolds, a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, received an award from Mitacs for Outstanding Innovation.

Maude Champagne is a neuroscience PhD student at Queen’s who focuses her research on neurodevelopment disabilities and intervention techniques which help families mitigate aggressive behaviour in youth.

During the pandemic, Champagne was responsible for developing three collaborative projects in partnership with not-for-profit organizations that provide disability support services including ABLE2, Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN), and Adopt4Life.

Champagne’s research efforts recently earned her a national award for Outstanding Innovation from Mitacs – a non-profit organization which partners with universities, the federal government, and various provincial governments to develop solutions that will improve the quality of life for Canadians.

Celebrating research excellence

Champagne attended a celebratory event at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa where she was presented with the award and met with Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop. This year’s event saw a total of eight awards given out, and Champagne being the only PhD student to be recognized. 

“Mitacs support allows our researchers to partner with various stakeholders – from governments to industries to not-for-profits – to develop impactful solutions to improve quality of life for all Canadians,” says Jim Banting, Associate Vice-Principal, Partnerships and Innovation. “Congratulations to Maude on this national recognition of research that makes a difference to children with disabilities and their caregivers.”

Trauma-informed approach

Champagne has a personal connection to the topic of family dynamics as a mother of five children, four of whom have neurological disabilities. Her personal experience as a parent of children with disabilities provides a unique perspective on the challenges faced by families and caregivers.

As part of her work with the Kids Brain Health Network, Champagne helped implement a Fetal Alcohol Resource Program, and later took part in the KBHN-Mitacs internship program which provided a $20,000 stipend to work with community partners such as ABLE2 to assess the innovations of virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To collect this data, a survey and qualitative interviews were administered to understand the needs of families raising children with a neurodevelopmental disability.

Using the findings of the survey, Champagne helped lead Canada’s first-ever nonviolent resistance (NVR) therapy program, the first National Consortium on Aggression Toward Family/Caregivers in Childhood and Adolescence (AFCCA), and a new AFCCA Family Support Program at Adopt4Life.

“At the end of the day, we want to help people, and being recognized by Mitacs will make more people aware of the research that we're doing, and get interest from policymakers, clinicians and families,” says Champagne. “I plan to keep participating in programs like the AFCCA Consortium after completing my research, and continue to raise awareness so families know that they are not in this alone”

To learn more about Champagne’s research visit  Kids Brain Health website.

Health and Medicine
Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs