Lab Director

Dr. Danielle Molnar (PhD Psychology, Brock University)
Dr. Molnar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies. At the broadest level, her research is focused on understanding the biological, psychological, social, and developmental factors that contribute to health and well-being across the lifespan, with a particular focus on early and middle childhood. Dr. Molnar’s specific interests include understanding the role of social-personality vulnerability factors, especially perfectionism, in the etiology, promotion, and maintenance of physical health and well-being. Dr. Molnar is also interested in examining potential etiological processes in the development of risk and resilience among children in high-risk samples, with a specific emphasis on the role of the prenatal environment. Outcomes of interest include the salient developmental outcomes at each age, ranging from the quality of parent-child relationships, security of attachment, and physiological and behavioural regulation in infancy, the development of self-regulation in the toddler/ preschool period, and social competence and peer relationships upon entry into the school setting.

Graduate Students

Natalie Tacuri
Natalie is currently a first year MA student in Child and Youth studies. She is continuing to work with Dr. Dawn Zinga and Dr. Danielle Molnar on research involving competitive dancers and their families. 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 broadly interested in advocating for dancers’ recognition as athletes, providing an understanding of dance as a legitimate sport, and exploring the complexities of competitive dance culture and its effects on dancers’ identities.

Rachel Ray

Rachel is in her first year of the MA program in Child and Youth Studies. She graduated from Brock with an Honours BA in Child and Youth Studies over the summer, 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 as their research on competitive dance culture ties closely into Rachel’s interests. Rachel’s research interests are dance, perfectionism and psychopathology, more specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. 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

Melissa Blackburn (Lab Coordinator)

Melissa recently graduated from Brock University with an Honour’s BA in Child and Youth Studies and Psychology. She got involved with the DPHWB lab while completing her fourth year thesis under the supervision of Drs. Molnar and Zinga which explored how home and studio climates are related to experiences of enjoyment in competitive dance. She is interested in examining both environmental and psychological factors related to the mental health and well-being of children and youth.

Natalie Spadafora
Natalie is a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Child and Youth Studies, currently working under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Volk in the Volk Developmental Science Lab. Natalie also completed her MA in the department under the supervision of Dr. Zopito Marini. Natalie’s research takes a psychoeducational perspective to examine children and youth, specifically in the area of adolescent bullying and incivility.

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.

Daley Good
Daley is in her second year of a BA in Child and Youth Studies with a minor in Psychology. She is interested in uncovering what children and youth think about themselves, the world around them, and the influence that their views can have on their behaviour and overall characteristics.

Emma Nusca

Emma is currently in her fourth year of her BA in Child and Youth Studies. As a child, she grew up as a gymnast but through her experience as a coach, she has had the opportunity to work with dancers along the way. This has motivated her to expand her knowledge and learn more about the health and well being of dancers. Her research interests include:

  • The physical and mental health of dancers
  • Stress and anxiety levels
  • Injury recovery and prevention

Lab Alumni

Former Postdoctoral Researchers & Graduate Students

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

Katerina Schiralli

Owyn Persia

Alyssa McAlpine

Lauren Berwick

Krenare Laci