Since 2015, Laura Barlow has worked at the UBC MRI Research Centre in DMCBH as the Research MRI Supervisor. Prior to her current role, Laura worked at St. Paul’s Hospital for 12 years in medical imaging, with 4 years spent in MRI. Laura went into this career because she fell in love with the technology and diagnostic power of MRI. “There’s always something new to learn – new technology, new advancements, it keeps me engaged,” adds Barlow.

Laura Barlow

Laura’s educational background includes two diplomas from BCIT – one in medical radiography and the other in magnetic resonance. Laura is also currently completing her bachelors of health sciences in magnetic resonance at BCIT. Laura would encourage anybody to go into medical imaging. “It is a very secure field of employment, there are lots of jobs available, and you can enter a fully paid practice after a few years of schooling.”

The duties a researcher MRI supervisor performs includes managing the staffing and scheduling of the MRI scanner, project development, implementing research protocols, and front line patient care work. However, no two days are ever the same. “It’s always different based on the kinds of studies we have booked for the day and based on the kind of patient groups we are working with. Some studies almost mimic hospital MRI scans, and others require multiple pieces of research equipment being set up in the room,” says Laura.

Laura’s favourite part about helping with the various UBC research projects is using her clinical patient care skills and knowledge in designing an experiment to create the researchers vision in what they want to accomplish, and then figuring out how it’s going to work in a patient-care environment.

Laura and the other MRI technologists love to see the results of the experiments that they helped with. “Occasionally people will send us the finished papers, more often though we are able to see work presented at the MRI Annual Researcher’s retreat, and at conferences.”

Many researchers at UBC have said how much they enjoy interacting with Laura at the MRI centre and working with her on their projects. “Laura was an integral part in completing the data collection for my thesis study. The research assistants and I loved working with her at each session and we are very appreciative of her guidance,” says Neuroscience Master’s student Karling Luciani, in Dr. Christian Schutz’ B.R.A.I.N. Lab.

When asked for one piece of advice for interacting with others, Laura responded, “I think in work and in life, you need to identify what’s important to you, and what you value, and base your interactions with the world on those things.”

The largest challenge for Laura in her role is making sure to have effective communication between many people. The researchers that come into the MRI centre come from all different areas of study with different experiences; Laura may be interacting with graduate students, undergraduate research assistants, or the Principal Investigators of a study.

Laura observing a Diffusion Tensor Imaging MRI scan and a 3DT1 anatomical MRI scan.

Laura has lived in British Columbia her whole life. She loves having nature so close by and readily accessible. “I am a cyclist – I love going on road rides, gravel rides, and just spending time in the outdoors – hiking, camping, and tending my many plants,” says Laura.

Laura Barlow completed the interview with sharing her favourite quote by Conan O’Brien: “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”