Our Team

 

COLLABORATORS AND STUDENTS

 

Paula M. Di Nota, PhD

Dr. Di Nota is a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Health Adaptation Research on Trauma (HART) Lab at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is currently investigating the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying training and complex motor learning in police populations, as well as the influence of occupational stress on the mental health and well-being of police and other first responders. Her dissertation research examined learning-induced changes to brain activity using behavioral, fMRI, and EEG measures.

Check out Paula’s first author publication in Frontiers Psychology: Di Nota, P.M. and Huhta, J.-M. (2019), Complex motor learning and police training: applied, cognitive, and clinical perspectives, Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 10 No. 1797, pp. 1-20. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01797

Monica Ghabrial, PhD

Monica Ghabrial, Ph.D. (she/her) is a Health Psychologist, currently working as a CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Ghabrial is a former student of Dr. Andersen and they continue to collaborate on a number of important projects. During her time in the HART Lab, Dr. Ghabrial’s dissertation research primarily examined stress, health, and resilience among Queer and Trans People of Color, with additional projects on biculturalism, visibility, and wellbeing among plurisexual/bisexual People of Color and community and resource development for women with HIV. Through an intersectional, strengths-based framework, she developed and validated the first measure of positive attitude toward identity for Queer People of Color, the Queer People of Colour Identity Affirmation Scale, and used that scale to investigate the link between identity affirmation and cardiovascular adaptivity to stress. Dr. Ghabrial’s dissertation was selected as a top 5 finalist for the 2022 CAGS/Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Award.

In her current position, Dr. Ghabrial is working on two studies of trans health across Canada. She also runs a website dedicated to reporting research on Queer and Trans health, www.queercarekit.com. You can learn more about her work and find information for consulting and public speaking services on Dr. Ghabrial’s personal website: www.monicaghabrial.com

Check out Monica’s publication in the leading journal in the field of Counseling Psychology: Ghabrial, M.A., & Andersen, J.P. (2020). Development and initial validation of the Queer People of Color Positive Identity Measure. Journal of Counseling Psychology

 

Jennifer F. Chan, MA

Jennifer F. Chan, MA, is a PhD student in the Health Adaptation Research on Trauma (HART) Lab at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, supervised by Dr. Judith P. Andersen. She completed her Honours Bachelor of Science at McMaster University in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, and her Master of Arts in Psychology at the University of Toronto. Her interdisciplinary research interests include health, stress, neuroendocrinology, inflammation, and biofeedback.

Her research focus involves measures of psychosocial, physiological stress, and mental/physical health in first responders; previous projects have explored occupational stress, the prevalence of mental health symptoms (e.g., PTSD, depression, anxiety), and cortisol dysfunction in police. She has also completed research at SickKids’ Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, studying MEG resting state neuroconnectivity of Canadian Armed Forces personnel diagnosed with PTSD. Her current dissertation research investigates how healthcare professionals’ experienced stress and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic influences mental and immune health via salivary biomarkers of inflammation.

Jen is also involved in education and science communication throughout the greater Toronto area. She is a course instructor and teaching assistant at UofT, as well as a co-founder of UofT SPRINT (Summer Psychology Research Initiative)- a program dedicated to providing high school students from groups typically under-represented in STEM free and accessible hands-on experience in Psychology research. She has also collaborated with and is an invited speaker for groups including the Royal Canadian Institute for Science, the Story Collider, and the Canadian Multicultural Inventors Museum.

Check out Jennifer’s publication in Occupational Medicine: Chan, J. F., & Andersen, J. P. (2020). Influence of organizational stress on reported depressive symptoms among police. Occupational Medicine, 70(7), 496–502. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqaa141

Sarah Scott, HBSc

Sarah Scott (she/her) holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mental Health Studies and Biology from the University of Toronto. She is involved in design, implementation and pilot integration of the Autonomic Modulation Training (AMT) study, and works as an academic instructor in the international Performance Resiliency and Efficiency Program (iPREP). She is heading the Therapeutic Horticulture Program (THP) and has instructed workshops at the UTM Health and Counselling Centre’s Be Well Fair. Sarah is also a teaching assistant at the University of Toronto and a researcher and content instructor at Step Training Inc., in which she has developed a mental health education program for first responders across Ontario. Her research interests include trauma neuroscience, wellness interventions and bottom-up therapies in the context of trauma.

Check out Sarah’s publication in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology: Berezuk, C., Scott, S. C., Black, S. E., & Zakzanis, K. K. (2021). Cognitive Reserve, cognition, and real-world functioning in MCI: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 43(10), 991–1005. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803395.2022.2047160


UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

 

Amanda Dawson

Amanda Dawson is a Psychology BSc student at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research interests involve investigating alternative forms of therapy to mitigate aggression in at-risk persons and violent offenders through the manipulation of oxytocin levels. She wishes to address her research on an intersectional scale towards diverse populations, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ persons within the prison industrial complex (PIC). Her goal is to promote rehabilitative over punitive treatment, mitigating the stigmatized association of criminality and mental health.

She will be working on the Horticultural Therapy Project (HTP) supervised by Dr. Judith Andersen. She will be exploring horticultural therapy as a peer support program among undergraduate students. Amanda will be facilitating this project alongside a team of collaborators to organize and monitor the success of an alternate form of therapy at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

 

Loridee De Villa

Loridee De Villa is a third-year BSc candidate pursuing a major in Health Sciences and a double minor in Psychology and History of Religions at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research interests involve investigating the intersection between physical and mental health, systems neuroscience, and the study of failure related to learning. She will be working on the Thought Suppression Immunity Project (TSI) supervised by Jennifer Chan, as a part of her research opportunity project (ROP).

 

 

Patrick Fahim

Patrick is a fifth-year undergraduate majoring in Biology for health science and psychology. He is a volunteer research assistant in the HART lab working on the Thought Suppression Immunity (TSI) project. Patrick is also a volunteer with the Gerlai and RAD lab. His research interests include biological markers of stress as it relates to mental health, mindfulness/meditation, and neurobiological factors of various psychopathologies.

 

 

 

Thais Holanda

Thais Holanda is currently in her final year of her undergraduate studies pursuing an honors of science degree in political science and psychology. Within the lab, she is responsible for assisting in the Autonomic Modulation Training (AMT) study. Her research interests include biopsychology with a focus in the mind/body connection and the neuropsychology of social relations.

 

 

 

 

Scott Hreno

Scott Hreno is a fifth-year student in psychology, biology, and French. He is an ROP student under the HART lab and a volunteer under the Perlman lab. Scott is interested in studying the relationship between stress and childhood development, particularly stressors as an influencer on developmental stages. He hopes to study mental health in children, and how this relates to education and recreation programs.

 

 

 

 

Harasis Kaur

Harasis Kaur (she/her) is a 4th year BSc candidate pursuing a double major in Health Sciences and Psychology and a minor in Biomedical communications. She will be working on the Horticulture Therapy Project (HTP) as a part of her independent research project (IRP). Her research interests include mental health, medical diagnostics and illustrations, developmental psychology and public health.

 

 


OTHER LABORATORY MEMBERS

 

Adaolisa Azike, HBSc

Ada is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto Mississauga. She completed her degree in biology for health science and psychology. She is currently working with the HART Lab as a volunteer under the supervision of Jennifer Chan. Her research interest includes looking at people’s activity levels, emotion regulation capabilities, and dieting habit to understanding the overall long-term health effects. She is interested in learning more about the healthcare field.

 

Dina Hejazi, HBSc

Dina Hejazi is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto Scarborough with a BSc specializing in psychology. Within the lab, her primary responsibilities involve assisting with the Autonomic Modulation Training (AMT) study as well as other tasks. Her research interests involve forensic psychology with a focus on prison reform and finding new ways to provide mental health resources to those in prisons.

 


FORMER TRAINEES

 

Konstantinos Papazoglou

Konstantinos Papazoglou, MA, is a psychology PhD (2018) and Vanier CIHR scholar at the University of Toronto supervised by Professor Judith P. Andersen. After obtaining his master’s degree in mental health counseling at New York University (NYU) as Onassis foundation scholar in 2010, he worked as a clinician with military personnel (2006-2008) and police cadets in Athens, Greece (2010-2012) and inmates in correctional facilities of the State of New York (2009-2010). He served as a uniformed police officer in Athens, Greece for almost 14 years (1998-2012) eventually obtaining the rank of police captain.

His work focuses on the conceptualization of complex police trauma, first respondents’ resilience, police health promotion, and community-based trauma prevention through culturally relevant interventions. He has presented his work throughout North America and Europe (e.g., American Psychological Association, Canadian Psychological Association, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, etc.).

 

Christopher Zou

Christopher Zou, MA, is a psychology PhD (2017) at the University of Toronto.   He completed his undergraduate and Master’s degree at the University of Toronto, and is in his senior year of the doctorate program. He is currently working on multiple research projects with Dr. Judith P. Andersen at the HART lab, which includes (but not is limited) to the following:

Bullying and Health. Chris’ first line of work with Professor Andersen involves exploring the effect of experiencing adverse childhood events (e.g., parental divorce, bullying) on long-term health and well-being. He is especially interested in examining how minority membership (particularly sexual minority membership) can influence the impact of bullying on health.

Coming Out Project. Chris’ second line of work examines the underlying assumptions surrounding the “coming out” experience of sexual minorities. He is interested in examining the different definitions of “coming out” across researchers and the general public, and understanding the impact of coming out on health and well-being of individuals who belong to sexual minority groups. He hopes that by identifying some of these assumptions about “coming out”, we can better assist individuals who are going through this difficult process.