Lab Director

Dr. Danielle Molnar (PhD Psychology, Brock University)
I am a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) Adjustment and Well-Being in Children and Youth and an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University. My training is in personality/social psychology. My research focuses on the biological, psychological, social, and developmental factors that contribute to adjustment and well-being across the lifespan, with a particular focus on how perfectionism is related to health, adjustment, and well-being during adolescence. I strongly support transdisciplinary research and my own research spans across domains from psychology and sociology to biology and immunology. I also really enjoy working with members of the community, ensuring that we get the word out on young people’s, parents’ and educators’ experiences with perfectionism, including its costs and consequences.

I have a passion for statistics and a solid background in quantitative methods. I love to teach foundational statistics courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level and is particularly interested in statistical modeling, dyadic data analysis, and longitudinal data analyses.

On a personal level, I love spending time with my family, Alice Cooper and rock music in general, F1 racing (Forza Ferrari!), playing scrabble, books of all kinds, and traveling (especially visiting beautiful sunny beaches).

Graduate Students

Melissa Blackburn 

Melissa is currently a second year MA student in Child and Youth Studies. She first got involved with the DPHWB lab while completing her fourth year thesis under the supervision of Drs. Molnar and Zinga and is excited to continue working with them in the DPHWB lab. Broadly, her research interests include self-compassion, perfectionism and mental health. More specifically, she is interested in the links between perfectionism, mental health and feelings of disconnection from others as well as the potential protective role of self-compassion in these relationships.

Rachel Ray

Rachel is in her second year of the MA program in Child and Youth Studies. She graduated from Brock with an Honours BA in Child and Youth Studies in 2019, after completing her thesis under the supervision of Dawn Zinga and Danielle Molnar. Her MA thesis will continue under the supervision of Dawn and Danielle with her research interests being dance and disability. Rachel’s thesis will consider the lived experiences of able-bodied and differently able-bodied dancers. She hopes that her research will emphasize how differently abled dancers reshape an understanding of doxa which is a concept termed by Bourdieu. Rachel has been dancing since she was six years old and started teaching dance when she graduated from high school. She is excited to continue her research in dance culture in order to further understand how to support young dancers.

Lab Affiliates & Research Assistants

Dr. Natalie Spadafora
Dr. Natalie Spadafora is a post-doctoral fellow at the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University, working under the supervision of Dr. Magdalena Janus. Her current post-doctoral work has been focused on investigating kindergarten educator perspectives of the learning situation during the first school shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Natalie completed her graduate degrees in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University under the supervision of Drs. Marini and Volk. Her research to date takes a psychoeducational perspective, investigating issues to do with child and adolescent development, with an emphasis on peer relationships and antisocial behavior (e.g., bullying, classroom incivility). She is also interested in factors that impact the teaching and learning of youth.

Natalie Tacuri

Natalie is currently a first year PhD student in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. She completed her MA and BA in the Department of Child and Youth Studies under the supervision of Dr. Dawn Zinga and Dr. Danielle Molnar to conduct research on competitive dancers at the postsecondary level. Growing up as a competitive dancer, Natalie is passionate about using her love of dance to create meaningful change for dancers throughout her research. Natalie is interested in examining perceptions of dancers as artists and athletes, exploring the complexities of competitive dance culture and its effects on dancers’ identities, as well as applying feminist theoretical perspectives to her work.

Grayson Hayes

Grayson has just finished her MA in Child and Youth Studies, under the supervision of Dr. Richard Mitchell, looking at media portrayals of youth climate activists. She also holds a BA in Child and Youth Studies, with a minor in Psychology. Grayson is truly passionate about children’s rights, mental health, and children who are going through the impacts of parental divorces. In the future, she hopes to directly affect change in the mental health sector through a MSW or PhD degree.

Victoria Dewar

Victoria is a first-year Master of Arts student specializing in Sport Management in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. Victoria grew up as a competitive Irish dancer before beginning to learn the styles of dance in high school. Victoria has continued to be involved in dance at the university level by teaching and choreographing and is excited to being to be involved in research surrounding competitive dance and perfectionism. Some of Victoria’s research interests outside of the realm of competitive dance include social media engagement and the differences in digital coverage between men’s and women’s sport.

Vanessa Zarb

Vanessa is a fourth-year Honours Child and Youth Studies undergraduate student. She is currently writing an individual thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Danielle Molnar, on how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced youth’s subjective well-being through school delivery and social connection. Vanessa’s passion for research stems from a quantitative perspective and she hopes to continue her research through an MA and PhD.

Madison Furgiuele

Madison is a second-year undergraduate students studying Psychology in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Madison grew up wanting to become a teacher and started the Mental Health Awareness Club in her high school, inspiring her to enter the field of Psychology. Madison has furthered her passion for Psychology by creating her own mental health organization beginning in January 2021. Some of Madison’s interests within the realm of mental health include perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the biological and environmental causes of trauma.

Lab Alumni

Former Postdoctoral Researchers & Graduate Students

Emily Murphy (MA)

Emily is in her second year of the PhD in Child and Youth Studies. Her current research, under the continued supervision of Dr. Molnar, will focus on perfectionism and psychopathology in youth. Specifically, Emily is interested in elucidating the pathways between perfectionism and psychopathology (e.g., depression, anxiety) in adolescents, and examining how social factors (e.g., loneliness, friendship quality) may influence these pathways as informed by the Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model (Hewitt et al., 2006). She is also interested in self-compassion as a protective factor and means to promote resilience in youth; she hopes to explore this interest in her future research. Emily is a strong advocate for mental health: she is an ambassador for the Mental Health Commission of Canada, is certified in Mental Health First Aid, and takes effort to promote the importance of well-being in any way she can.

Caroline Drolet (PhD Psychology, Brock University)
Dr. Cari Drolet was a former postdoctoral researcher in the Developmental Process in Health and Well-Being Lab at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada. Dr. Drolet’s current research deals with social psychological topics including human rights, hypocrisy, social justice, and well being. Dr. Drolet’s work has been published in outlets such as Social Justice Research and Psychology & Sexuality.

Former Lab Affiliates & Research Assistants

Dr. Tabitha Methot-Jones

Daley Good

Emma Nusca

Katerina Schiralli

Owyn Persia

Alyssa McAlpine

Lauren Berwick

Krenare Laci