Joel Burma


PhD Student

Joel Burma

Joel is completing his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Smirl and Dr. Jeff Dunn with an expected completion date of 2024. His PhD is seeking to comprehensively understand cerebrovascular regulation with a multimodal imaging approach including transcranial Doppler ultrasound, functional near-infrared spectroscopy, and electroencephalography. This multimodal approach will be utilized during cerebrovascular reactivity, cerebral autoregulation, and neurovascular coupling assessments, which will quantify both cerebral hemodynamics and cerebral electrical activity across the brain. Additionally, Joel’s PhD project will also explore how the aforementioned regulatory mechanisms are impacted by the phase of the menstrual cycle, between biological sexes, and by cardiorespiratory fitness status. Currently, there is an underrepresentation of published cerebrovascular research studies including female participants. This, in part, is due to the fluctuation of hormones across the menstrual cycle, which may change the compliance of the blood vessels within the brain. Therefore, Joel’s PhD project is ultimately seeking to understand the various regulatory mechanisms within the brain, while also enhancing current methodological approaches to increase the number of future cerebrovascular studies that include female participants.

Joel has completed his Master of Science (2020) at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Kathryn Schneider and Dr. Jeff Dunn and his Bachelor of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia Okanagan under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Smirl and Dr. Paul van Donkelaar.

Awards and Distinctions

2021-2024 Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral Program (CGS-D), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

2021-2024 Brain Create Graduate Scholarship

2020-2022 John D Petrie QC Memorial Graduate Scholarship

2021 University of Calgary Human Performance Laboratory Graduate Student Researcher of the Year

2020-2021 Kinesiology Leadership Scholarship

2020 Integrated Concussion Research Program Travel Award

2020 Canadian Traumatic Brain Injury Research Consortium Travel Award

2019 Canadian Institutes of Health Research - CGS-M Award

2018 Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship

2018 Best Proffered Student Presentation at 8th International Meeting on Cerebral Hemodynamic Regulation (CARNet) at Oxford University

2018 NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award

2017 NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award

2014-2017  Deputy Vice-Chancellor Scholarship, UBC

2017  UBC Dean's Honor Roll

2015  Okanagan Extracurricular Leadership Award


  1. Burma J.S., Van Roessel R.K., Oni I.K., Dunn J.F., Smirl J.D. Neurovascular coupling on trial: How the number of trials completed impacts the accuracy and precision of temporally derived neurovascular coupling estimates. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2022. doi: 10.1177/0271678X221084400.
  2. Smirl J.D., Peacock D., Burma J.S., Wright A.D., Bouliane K.J., Dierijck J., Kennefick M., Wallace C., van Donkelaar P. An acute bout of controlled subconcussive impacts can alter dynamic cerebral autoregulation indices: a preliminary investigation. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2022. doi: 10.1007/s00421-022-04908-4.
  3. Burma J.S., Cameron B., Jasinovic T., Lun V., van Rassel C.R., Sutter B., Wiley J.P., Schneider K.J. The effect of an exertional field-test on sport concussion assessment tool 5 subcomponents in University rugby and wrestling athletes: A pilot prospective case series. Phys Ther Sport. 2022 Feb 5;55:21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2022.01.005.
  4. Labrecque L., Burma J.S., Roy M.A., Smirl J.D., Brassard P. Reproducibility and diurnal variation of the directional sensitivity of the cerebral pressure-flow relationship in men and women. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2022 Jan 1;132(1):154-166. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00653.2021.
  5. Burma J.S., Kennedy C.M., Penner L.C., Miutz L.N., Galea O.A., Ainslie P.N., Smirl J.D. Long-term heart transplant recipients: heart rate-related effects on augmented transfer function coherence during repeated squat-stand maneuvers in males. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2021 Dec 1;321(6):R925-R937. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00177.2021.
  6. Burma, J. S., Lapointe, A. P., Soroush, A., Oni, I. K., Smirl, J. D., & Dunn, J. F. (2021). Insufficient sampling frequencies skew heart rate variability estimates: Implications for extracting heart rate metrics from neuroimaging and physiological dataJournal of biomedical informatics123, 103934.
  7. Burma, J. S., Wassmuth, R. M., Kennedy, C. M., Miutz, L. N., Newel, K. T., Carere, J., & Smirl, J. D. (2021). Does task complexity impact the neurovascular coupling response similarly between males and females? Physiological reports9(17), e15020.
  8. Lapointe, A. P., Ritchie, J. N., Vitali, R. V., Burma, J. S., Soroush, A., Oni, I., & Dunn, J. F. (2021). Internal Consistency of Sway Measures via Embedded Head-Mounted Accelerometers: Implications for Neuromotor InvestigationsSensors (Basel, Switzerland)21(13), 4492.
  9. Jasinovic, T., Burma, J. S., Cameron, B., Lun, V., van Rassel, C. R., Sutter, B., Wiley, J. P., & Schneider, K. J. (2021). The effect of high-intensity physical exertion on measures of cervical spine, vestibular/ocular-motor screening, and vestibulo-ocular reflex function in university level collision and combative sport athletesPhysical therapy in sport : official journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine51, 36–44.
  10. Cameron, B., Burma, J. S., Jasinovic, T., Lun, V., van Rassel, C. R., Sutter, B., Wiley, J. P., & Schneider, K. J. (2021). One-year stability of preseason Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 5 (SCAT5) values in university level collision and combative sport athletesThe Physician and sportsmedicine, 1–8. Advance online publication.
  11. Burma, J. S., Graver, S., Miutz, L. N., Macaulay, A., Copeland, P. V., & Smirl, J. D. (2021). The validity and reliability of ultra-short-term heart rate variability parameters and the influence of physiological covariatesJournal of applied physiology, 130(6), 1848–1867.
  12. Burma J. S., Graver S., Miutz L. N., Macaulay A., Copeland P. V., Smirl J. D. The validity and reliability of ultra-short-term heart rate variability parameters and the influence of physiological covariates. J Appl Physiol. 2021. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00955.2020. Epub ahead of print.
  13. Burma J. S., Miutz L. N., Newel K. T., Labrecque L., Drapeau A., Brassard P., Copeland P., Macaulay A., Smirl J. D. What recording duration is required to provide physiologically valid and reliable dynamic cerebral autoregulation transfer functional analysis estimates? Physiol Meas. 2021;42(4). doi: 10.1088/1361-6579/abf1af.
  14. Graham R.F., van Rassel C.R., Burma J.S., Rutschmann T.D., Miutz L.N., Sutter B., Schneider K. Concurrent Validity of a Stationary Cycling Test and the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test in Adults With Concussion. J Athl Train. 2021 Dec 1;56(12):1292-1299. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-0003.21.
  15. Burma J. S., Macaulay A., Copeland P. V., Khatra O., Bouliane K. J., Smirl J. D. Temporal evolution of neurovascular coupling recovery following moderate- and high-intensity exercise. Physiol Rep. 2021 Jan;9(2):e14695. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14695.
  16. Burma J. S., Copeland P. V., Macaulay A., Smirl J. D. The impact of high- and moderate-intensity exercise on near-point of convergence metrics. Brain Inj. 2021 35(2):248-254
  17. Caldwell H. G., Hoiland R. L., Barak O. F., Mijacika T., Burma J. S., Dujić Ž., Ainslie P. N. Alterations in resting cerebrovascular regulation do not affect reactivity to hypoxia, hyperoxia or neurovascular coupling following a SCUBA dive. Exp Physiol. 2020 Sep;105(9):1540-1549. doi: 10.1113/EP088746.
  18. Smirl J. D., Peacock D., Wright A. D., Bouliane K. J., Dierijck J., Burma J. S., Kennefick M., Wallace C., van Donkelaar P. An Acute Bout of Soccer Heading Subtly Alters Neurovascular Coupling Metrics. Front Neurol. 2020 Jul 24;11:738. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00738.
  19. Burma, J. S., Macaulay, A., Copeland, P., Khatra, O., Bouliane, K. J., & Smirl, J. D. (2020). Comparison of cerebrovascular reactivity recovery following high-intensity interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training. Physiological reports8(11), e14467.
  20. Burma, J. S., Copeland, P. V., Macaulay, A., Khatra, O., & Smirl, J. D. (2020). Effects of high-intensity intervals and moderate-intensity exercise on baroreceptor sensitivity and heart rate variability during recovery. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 45(10) 1156-1164.
  21. Burma, J. S., Copeland, P., Macaulay, A., Khatra, O., & Smirl, J. D. (2020). Comparison of diurnal variation, anatomical location, and biological sex within spontaneous and driven dynamic cerebral autoregulation measures. Physiological reports8(11), e14458.
  22. Burma, J. S., Copeland, P., Macaulay, A., Khatra, O., Wright, A. D., & Smirl, J. D. (2020). Dynamic cerebral autoregulation across the cardiac cycle during 8 hr of recovery from acute exercise. Physiological reports8(5), e14367.
  23. Kennefick, M., McNeil, C. J., Burma, J. S., Copeland, P. V., van Donkelaar, P., & Dalton, B. H. (2020). Modulation of vestibular-evoked responses prior to simple and complex arm movements. Experimental brain research238(4), 869–881.
  24. Kennefick M, Burma J.S., van Donkelaar P, McNeil, C. J. (2019). The time course of motoneuronal excitability during the preparation of complex movements. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 31(6), 781–790.
  25. Kennefick M., Burma J. S., van Donkelaar P., McNeil., C. J. (2019). Corticospinal excitability is enhanced while preparing for complex movements. Experimental Brain Research. Experimental Brain Research, 237(3), 829–837.
  26. Wallace C., Smirl J. D., Zetterberg H., Blennow K., Bryk K., Burma J., Dierijck J., Wright A. D., van Donkelaar P. (2018). Heading in soccer increases serum neurofilament light protein and SCAT3 symptom metricsBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 4(1), e000433.



Sport Injury Research Prevention Center 
University of Calgary 
2500 University Drive, NW 
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4