Dr. Jonathan Smirl

Assistant Professor

Dr. Jonathan Smirl

Current Focus:

Jonathan Smirl is an Assistant Professor at the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary specializing in the area of sport-related concussions. He is a cerebrovascular and exercise physiologist, and in 2017 was the first Canadian ever elected to the International Cerebral Autoregulation Research Network (CARNet) steering committee and was re-elected to this position in 2019. His research focuses on understanding the cerebrovascular and autonomic dysregulation which occurs following a concussion and aims to use this knowledge to develop informed exercise interventions which can be used to help aid in the recovery process during both acute and prolonged symptom periods.


He completed his BSc in Biology at the University of Victoria in 2004 and spent several years working as a swim and triathlon coach throughout Victoria, BC. He re-entered academia in 2008 at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia where he completed both his MSc (2011) and PhD (2015) at UBC Okanagan focusing on cerebral blood flow regulation under the guidance of Prof. Philip Ainslie. After completing his PhD, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Concussion Research Lab at UBC working alongside Prof. Paul van Donkelaar. In 2019, he joined the faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary as an assistant professor.

Awards and Distinctions

2019-2020 Michael Smith Foundation in Health Research, Post-Doc Fellowship

2016-2017 Innovations in Wellness, Post-Doctoral Fellowship

2015-2017 MITACS Accelerate Internship

2017 Canadian Traumatic Brain Injury Research Consortium Travel Grant

2016 UBCO Post-Doc International Travel Grant

2015 UBCO Dean’s Thesis Fellowship

2013-2015 Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

2013-2015 NSERC PGS-D2

2012-2015 UBCO Graduate Fellowship

2011, 2015 Physiological Society International Travel Grant

2013, 2015 UBCO Ph.D. International Travel Grant

2012 Special UBCO Award PhD Fellowship

2011-2012 UBCO Ph.D. Tuition Award

2011 UBCO Graduate Entrance Scholarship

2009 UBCO TREK Excellence Undergraduate Scholarship


  1. Characterizing symptoms of traumatic brain injury in survivors of intimate partner violence. Smirl JD, Jones KE, Copeland P, Khatra O, Taylor EH, Van Donkelaar P. Brain Inj. 2019;33(12):1529-1538. doi: 10.1080/02699052.2019.1658129. Epub 2019 Aug 23.
  2. Letter to the Editor: On the need of considering cardiorespiratory fitness when examining the influence of sex on dynamic cerebral autoregulation. Labrecque L, Smirl JD, Brassard P. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2019 May 1;316(5):H1229. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00152.2019.
  3. Attention Is Required to Coordinate Reaching and Postural Stability during Upper Limb Movements Generated While Standing. Dierijck J, Kennefick M, Smirl J, Dalton BH, van Donkelaar P. J Mot Behav. 2019 Mar 27:1-10. doi: 10.1080/00222895.2019.1587351. [Epub ahead of print]
  4. Dynamic cerebral autoregulation is attenuated in young fit women. Labrecque L, Rahimaly K, Imhoff S, Paquette M, Le Blanc O, Malenfant S, Drapeau A, Smirl JD, Bailey DM, Brassard P. Physiol Rep. 2019 Jan;7(2):e13984. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13984.
  5. Cross-sectional comparison of spiral versus block integrated curriculums in preparing medical students to diagnose and manage concussions. Fraser S, Wright AD, van Donkelaar P, Smirl JD. BMC Med Educ. 2019 Jan 9;19(1):17. doi: 10.1186/s12909-018-1439-0.
  6. Cerebral Autoregulation Is Disrupted Following a Season of Contact Sports Participation. Wright AD, Smirl JD, Bryk K, Fraser S, Jakovac M, van Donkelaar P. Front Neurol. 2018 Oct 22;9:868. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00868. eCollection 2018. 
  7. Exaggerated systemic oxidative-inflammatory-nitrosative stress in chronic mountain sickness is associated with cognitive decline and depression. Bailey DM, Brugniaux JV, Filipponi T, Marley CJ, Stacey B, Soria R, Rimoldi SF, Cerny D, Rexhaj E, Pratali L, Salmòn CS, Murillo Jáuregui C, Villena M, Smirl JD, Ogoh S, Pietri S, Scherrer U, Sartori C. J Physiol. 2019 Jan;597(2):611-629. doi: 10.1113/JP276898. Epub 2018 Nov 24.
  8. Cerebrovascular function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the impact of exercise training. Lewis N, Gelinas JCM, Ainslie PN, Smirl JD, Agar G, Melzer B, Rolf JD, Eves ND. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2019 Feb 1;316(2):H380-H391. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00348.2018. Epub 2018 Oct 26. 
  9. Heading in soccer increases serum neurofilament light protein and SCAT3 symptom metrics. Wallace C, Smirl JD, Zetterberg H, Blennow K, Bryk K, Burma J, Dierijck J, Wright AD, van Donkelaar P. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018 Aug 27;4(1):e000433. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000433. eCollection 2018.
  10. Anticipatory postural adjustments as a function of response complexity in simple reaction time tasks. Kennefick M, Wright AD, Smirl JD, van Donkelaar P. Neurosci Lett. 2018 Sep 25;684:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.06.058. Epub 2018 Jun 30.


Sports Injury Prevention Research Centre
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive, NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4