Meet our new PeerJ Section Editor – Michelle Ploughman

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Michelle Ploughman as our newest Section Editor for PeerJ Life & Environment’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Section.

Dr. Ploughman is Associate Professor of Medicine at Memorial University, St. John’s NL and Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation, Neuroplasticity and Brain Recovery. She is an experienced physiotherapist, a neuroscientist and a recognized expert in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation in stroke and multiple sclerosis. Located at the Miller Centre in St. John’s, NL, Dr. Ploughman’s Recovery and Performance Laboratory provides a superb training ground for Canada’s next generation of scientists and research-minded clinicians.

Her research focuses on the effects of brain stimulation, aerobic exercise, intensive training paradigms and lifestyle habits on the brain challenged by injury, disease and aging. Dr. Ploughman’s expertise ranges from measuring the effects of upper limb training on structural plasticity in animal models to testing innovative rehabilitation approaches in clinical trials. She is an expert in measuring the effects of neurorehabilitation using functional brain imaging techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional near infrared spectroscopy. Dr. Ploughman also contributes as a volunteer for the NL Brain Injury Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the March of Dimes and the MS Society of Canada.

We caught up with Michelle to find out more about her, her research and her hopes for PeerJ’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Section.


Hi Michelle, thanks for agreeing to be a PeerJ Section Editor. Please can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I came into the research field late in life having worked as a neurological physiotherapist for 15 years before I began studying neuroplasticity. While working as a PT in stroke and brain injury rehabilitation, I became interested in the mechanistic underpinnings of neurorehabilitation interventions particularly the impact of treatment intensity and dosage. My PhD work involved studying aerobic exercise effects on the ischemic brain in an animal model of stroke. In other aspects of my life I enjoy the outdoors, especially hiking with my dogs, boating, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. I live in Newfoundland, Canada which is located at the most easterly point in North America so there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.

What research are you currently focusing on?

My research involves testing innovative methods to drive neuroplasticity and I strive to understand how treatments work and for whom. Right now we have several studies going on using aerobic exercise to prime the brain and transcranial magnetic stimulation and translingual stimulation to modulate neuronal networks in combination with physiotherapy interventions in people with stroke and multiple sclerosis.

What persuaded you to become a PeerJ Section Editor?

I have been serving as an Academic Editor for PeerJ since 2015 so I have had a chance to compare the platform and the rigor of peer review to other journals. More than any other journal, I feel that PeerJ is actually a community. I am impressed by the quality of science published in PeerJ in my field and was excited to hear that there would be a new Section dedicated to Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Even though I have many other demands on my time and serve as associate editor for other journals, I felt that I wanted to prioritize PeerJ’s new Section.

Are there exciting areas of research you’d be particularly interested in seeing submitted to the journal?

Of course I look forward to reading studies testing innovative rehabilitation interventions for all types of diseases and disorders. I think that studies that also examine mechanisms of action are particularly interesting right now in the quest towards personalized medicine: right therapy for the right patient. I also think that studies that test whether an intervention will change impairment, function and quality of life in the longer term are needed right now and have the potential to make meaningful impacts on clinical practice.


About PeerJ Sections
Sections are community led and exemplify a research community’s shared values, norms and interests. They provide topically curated content from PeerJ journals and are overseen by Section Editors, who oversee the articles published in their Section to ensure the journal maintains a fair peer review process and the highest standards of scientific practice in their fields.

You can sign up for alerts for content alerts for the latest research featured in the Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Section here and explore other PeerJ Sections here.


Interested in becoming a PeerJ Editorial Board Member? You can apply by getting in touch with our Editorial Community Manager, Lindsay Howell (lindsay@peerj.com)

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