About us

The Motivation, Instruction, and Reading (MIR) Lab at Brock University extensively studies the development of reading ability in children, and adolescents, as well as adults who struggle with reading. Led by Dr. Jan C. Frijters, the MIR Lab has become collaborators in a number of large scale projects across the world.

The team

Jan Frijters, PhD


Associate Professor, Department of Child and Youth Studies

Dr. Frijters is an Applied Developmental Psychologist with a focus on learning difficulties, motivation, and intervention. He also has a passion for quantitative research methods, especially for techniques such as multilevel modeling, person-centred, and structural equation modeling approaches that can help sort out how developmental processes unfold over time and within specific learning contexts. Several large collaborative projects are underway with collaborators in Beijing and Xi’an China, the University of Stavanger in Norway, Yale University and Georgia State University in the US. These ongoing studies focus on the most severely challenged children, adolescents and adults: providing and evaluating intervention, examining the genetic and brain basis for reading difficulties, and examining how neuropsychological characteristics interact with these factors. There are numerous and rich opportunities for students at every level within his ongoing projects.

Amna Mirza, PhD

Postdoctural Research Associate

Amna has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo and is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate in Child and Youth Studies at Brock University. Her previous research focused on language and reading development in multiple languages across orthographies, Urdu, Arabic, Hindi and English under the supervision of Dr. Alexandra Gottardo. Her research also looked at the On-Task and Off-Task multitasking when technologies support instruction in first year university students’  classrooms. With her passion and interests of mobilizing her knowledge, she conducted workshops for elementary level teachers in Pakistan, highlighting the successful classroom approach for teachers to make children fluent readers. In the MIR lab, Amna is continuing her interest in reading development and working on the New Haven Lexinome Project.

Emily Guertin, MA

PhD Student

Emily has an MA in Applied Behavior Analysis and is presently a first-year doctoral student in Child and Youth Studies at Brock University. Her previous research focused on interventions for children with intellectual disabilities and obsessive compulsive behaviors under the supervision of Dr. Tricia Vause. In the MIR lab, Emily is continuing her interest in comorbidity and intervention response by studying risk factors for dyslexia including ADHD and anxiety.  She is also investigating how these factors influence longitudinal acquisition of reading skills in early readers. In the long term, Emily aspires to use advanced quantitative methods to facilitate an inter- or transdisciplinary collaboration between fields whose methods may have been previously incompatible.

Melissa Nichol, MA

Research Associate

Melissa has MA in Child and Youth Studies from Brock University. Both during her degree and after completion, she worked in a number of research labs and collaborated with faculty members on projects related to working memory, anxiety, and reading and collected behavioural, self-report, electrophysiological, and pupillometric data.  She also worked for Brock University’s Lifespan Centre as the Research Participant Recruitment Coordinator. Melissa has a strong interest in all areas of the research process, and particularly data analysis. She now works in the MIR Lab assisting in the New Haven Lexinome Project and the Centre for the Study of Adult Literacy’s research. One of her current projects investigates the relationship between rhythm entrainment ability and reading skills.

Nicole Banach, BA

Master’s Student

​Nicole is a graduate student from Brock University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Child and Youth Studies. She is currently a full- time first year Master of Arts student in the Applied Disability Studies at Brock University under the supervision of Dr. Jan Frijters. Nicole will be completing a thesis and contributing research to the MIR lab with the focus on reading, motivation and cultural differences, while obtaining hours to become a BCBA. Nicole is highly passionate and interested in researching motivational aspects behind reading difficulties along with parental literacy disabilities and the relation to their child’s reading performance across cultures. In May of 2019, Nicole is planning to defend her thesis and graduate from Brock University.

Jane McClure, BA

Master’s Student

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Julia Lovis

Undergraduate Thesis Student

Julia is a 4th year undergraduate student with a double major in Child and Youth Studies and Speech Language Sciences. Conducting research in the field of dyslexia appealed to her as she could use her education from a linguist perspective as well as an exceptionality perspective to look more into reading difficulties. Julia has chose to focus specifically on bilingualism in a minority population (English-Spanish) of children to bring more research to the field in the realm of minorities. Using this research to explore a new avenue has introduced her to a variety of novel research experiences that she hopes will help her further in her next pursuits, a clinical-based Masters in Speech and Language Pathology.

Get involved

Interested in our research and want to learn more about how to get involved in our lab?

Contact us at mirlab@brocku.ca