Current graduate student profiles

Elizabeth Al-Jbouri
Elizabeth is a PhD student in the CHYS department. She completed a BA at the University of Ottawa, with a major in Psychology and a minor in History prior to completing an MA in CHYS with her current supervisor, Dr. Tony Volk. Broadly speaking, Elizabeth’s research interests include gender, youth peer relationships and social contexts, pro- and anti- social behaviour, social-emotional learning, and “children’s” media.


Marianna Andrade
Marianna is enrolled as an MA student in the department of Child and Youth Studies. She has thus far received an Honours BA in Child Health with a minor in Sociology from Brock University. Her broad interests include looking at children’s activism and engagement with their communities and other peers. Her sociological background has her thinking critically about social constructions, society, and where children fit into this paradigm. Her primary interest includes looking at the inequalities children face within their educational spaces and knowing how knowledge is produced and distributed.
Marianna will be working under the supervision of Dr. Dan Cui. Her thesis will critically evaluate the different perspectives of second generation immigrant children and youth and how their race, gender and class work together to create their unique educational experiences. 


Sophia Attema
Sophia received her Bachelor of Arts (honours) degree in Sociology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies from Brock University. She is currently a second year MA student working under the supervision of Dr. Dan Cui, exploring the theoretical concept of ‘habitus’ in relation to the lived experiences of first-generation female students.

Sophia spent thirteen years self-employed in a wholesale produce partnership which she left behind to pursue her own passions. She has since worked extensively with children, youth and parents as a family pastor and foster parent. Sophia’s previous leadership role led her to oversee outreach events and coordinate social justice conferences. A highlight of her career was pioneering a youth-focused, female leadership development program as one way to strategically begin the cultural shift towards gender equality, in what is traditionally known as a male dominated environment.

Sophia’s research interests are in, child welfare, social justice, sociology of education and women and gender studies. These areas of study are influenced by her experiences in and with a diverse number of social institutions. Sophia aspires to produce knowledge that is practical, useful for prevention and policy, and ultimately improves the lives of children – especially those from unequal childhoods.

Abneet Kaur Atwal
Abneet Atwal is a Ph.D. student in Child and Youth Studies, supervised by Dr. Donato Tarulli and Dr. Kathryn Underwood. Abneet received her Honors B.Sc in Psychology (Specialization in Exceptionalities in Human Learning) from the University of Toronto and completed her M.A. in Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University. She is also a project coordinator on the Inclusive Early Childhood Service System project at Ryerson University. Abneet’s research interests include childhood disability, disability and culture, and disabled children’s participation. Her dissertation research will focus on the intersection of childhood disability and immigration.

Kristopher Brazil
Kristopher received his B.Sc. in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (Mental Health Specialization) from McMaster University in 2015. He then went on to complete an M.A. in Psychology at Carleton University in 2017 with a focus in forensic psychology. He is now a Ph.D. student in Child and Youth Studies at Brock University working with Dr. Tony Volk.

Kristopher’s research interests are in psychopathic personality, the constructs of masculinity and femininity, and anything to do with evolutionary theory. For his doctoral research, he is applying and combining these interests to explore plausible evolutionary functions of psychopathy in adolescent males, which has implications for youth relationships and well-being as well as the structure, function, and stability of young male groups and coalitions. Other research interests and collaborations include Indigenous scholarship and ways of knowing, mate and sexual selection, the philosophy of science, and personality research.

Emily Cauduro
Emily is enrolled as an MA student in Child and Youth Studies. She completed a double major undergraduate degree at Trent University in forensic science and psychology and during her program she was able to work on a Community Based Research Project through the Trent Community Research Centre. Her area of focus was explaining the reason for the increase of mental health calls received by police in Ontario since 2012. Emily’s research interest allowed her to connect with her current research supervisor, Voula Marinos, who explores diversion programs and the Youth Criminal Justice System. Emily is specifically interested in restorative justice regarding Indigenous youth and currently aims to expand her research to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its integration into the criminal justice system.


Sarah Ciotti
Sarah Ciotti is a PhD student in Child and Youth Studies, supervised by Dr. Shannon Moore. Sarah completed a Bachelor of Arts with double major in Sociology and Criminal Justice and Public Policy, a Master of Arts in Sociology and a Certificate in Couple and Family Therapy from the University of Guelph. She is a Registered Psychotherapist who has extensive professional experience working with children, youth and families. Sarah’s research interests include resilience, trauma, and the relationship between mental and physical health. Sarah’s dissertation research will explore the relationship between trauma and long-term Lyme disease symptoms through a transdisciplinary social justice theoretical orientation.

Kate Connors
Kate is a doctoral student researching typical and atypical reading and math development, with the occasional foray into more esoteric topics (such as developmental neuroscience and electrophysiological patterns of language processing), and the periodic push into more applied topics (such as pedagogical practice, curriculum development and instructional design). She works under the supervision of Dr. Jan Frijters.

Kate hails from the western United States, earned a B.A. in Linguistics, spent six years teaching frequently-delightful and intermittently-frustrating middle schoolers in Texas, completed an M.Ed. in Learning and Technology, bumbled through a period of designing adaptive learning software for kids, then obtained a perhaps superfluous M.S. degree in Cognitive and Brain Sciences before making her way to Brock’s Child and Youth Studies PhD program. In her spare time she likes to watch a lot of TV, walk along the Niagara river, visit family in the beautiful mountains of northern Utah, think about starting new hobbies, and second-guess her life choices.

Sarah Davis
Sarah completed a Master of Arts in Applied Disability Studies with a specialization in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). She is also a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst with experience working with children and youth with exceptionalities. Sarah is currently completing her PhD in Child and Youth Studies, under the co-supervision of Drs. Tricia Vause and Kendra Thomson. Sarah’s current research interests includes the application of behaviour analysis in dance education. For her dissertation, she is interested in developing a recreational dance program with children with exceptionalities and evaluating the impact of this child-informed program on the children’s mental health.

Laurel Donison
Laurel has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership Degree, a B.Ed. in primary and Junior Education and a MA in Early Childhood Education, which she received from The University of British Columbia. She is a registered Early Childhood Educator and has experience working with young children in a variety of early years settings for over eight years. Her research is grounded in children’s rights with a focus on children’s voices and more specifically looking at children’s perspectives of outdoor play spaces within early childhood settings. Laurel is currently involved in a research project as a research assistant with Dr. Rebecca Raby that focuses on children’s experiences during Covid-19 through online video calling interviews. Laurel is a second year PhD student in CHYS and her supervisor is Rebecca Raby.


Prarthana Franklin
Prarthana received her BSc. in Psychology (Honours) at York University and completed her M.A in Child and Youth Studies (CHYS) at Brock University. She is currently a PhD student in CHYS, working under the supervision of Dr. Tony Volk.

Her research examines parenting from an evolutionary perspective, incorporating topics such as parents’ personality, perceptions of children (e.g., infant/child facial cues), and breastfeeding.

Cassandra Gordon
Cassandra received an Honours BA in Child and Youth Studies and Psychology from Brock University. After her degree, Cassandra pursued a BSc in Medical Sciences to strengthen her background in bioscience. Cassandra has worked with children and adults with a variety of mental health conditions, in foster care, group homes, and crisis centres, which inspires her research interests. Cassandra is interested in approaching mental health (in particular anxiety and ADHD) from a physiological/neurobiological perspective.
Cassandra is a Master’s student under the supervision of Dr. Ayda Tekok Kilic. Cassandra participates in the Developmental Neuroscience Lab (DN) and Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab (CAN) at Pathstone Mental Health.

Holly Grassl
Holly graduated from Trent University where she received her B.A (Honours) in Child and Youth Studies. She is currently an M.A student in the Child and Youth Studies department, where she will work alongside Dr. Voula Marinos.

Holly is interested in researching young offenders who have developmental disorders. More specifically, Holly hopes to examine how fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities impact young people’s interaction with the criminal justice system.

Emily Guertin
Emily has an MA in Applied Behaviour Analysis and is presently a doctoral student in Child and Youth Studies under the co-supervision of Dr. Jan Frijters and Dr. Tricia Vause. Her previous research focused on interventions for children with intellectual disabilities and obsessive compulsive behaviours under the supervision of Dr. Vause. Continuing with her interest in comorbidity and intervention response, Emily is presently studying risk factors for dyslexia including ADHD and anxiety.  She is also investigating how these factors influence longitudinal acquisition of reading skills. 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.

Evan Harding
Evan holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Child and Youth Studies from Brock University, which he achieved alongside a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies in 2018. He is primarily interested in the intersections between studies of childhood and gender, including how young people negotiate and reproduce normative presentations and understandings of gender. Previously, Evan completed a critical discourse analysis of the Ontario public school curriculum under the supervision of Dr. Richard Mitchell, wherein he analyzed the language and prompts within the curriculum documents. He discovered dominant themes among the text, including a series of heteronormative implications regarding family structure, and a clearly defined and exclusive gender binary.

Evan is a Master’s student in the department of Child and Youth Studies working with Rebecca Raby. His research asks what gendered discourses are present in the summer camp setting, how the ways that gender is asserted may be unique to that environment, and how young people at camp resist and negotiate normative gendered expectations.


Alli Herrington
Alli received her Bachelor of Arts Degree, Honours Specialization in Childhood and Social Institutions, and Major in Disability Studies from King’s University College, University of Western Ontario in 2017. She completed her Masters of Critical Disability Studies at York University in February 2019. Alli’s research interests have compelled her to continue her graduate studies at Brock University commencing in September 2019 in the Child and Youth Studies PhD program. Alli has a particular keen interest in advocating for the participation, and hearing the voices of the individual experiences of marginalized groups. Alli has a fervent interest in hearing the voices of children and people with disabilities, and to show the value of this so that their rights are respected. She is specifically interested in how participation has an impact on everyday outcomes such as sense of self and the ability to create change.

2017: HSP in CSI & Major in Disability Studies
2019: MA in Critical Disability studies

Michelle Janzen

Michelle Janzen
Michelle Janzen is completing her Ph.D. within the Child and Youth Studies under the supervision of Dr. Maureen Connolly, and previously received both her BA and MA in Child and Youth Studies from Brock ,as well as an undergraduate degree in Sociology.  For over a decade Michelle has worked with children and youth experiencing various disabilities and mental health issues which has influenced her research interests and focus. Michelle is specifically interested in Disability and Human Rights and is highly interested in special education policy and practice. Throughout her research she has focused on the experiences of parents advocating for children and youth within the education system, and investigating the inequalities experienced by families due to policies and practices implemented within the education system. Currently within her Ph.D. programming, Michelle is studying the effect the Pandemic has had on parents with children who have complex care needs (those that are medically fragile or with dual diagnosis), as well as youth experiencing disabilities and the effect the Pandemic has had on community service providers that support families of children and youth with complex care needs. The focus of the study is to examine systemic inequalities and policies that affect families, children, youth, and providers during times of national crisis or disaster. Michelle is also interested in youth mental health and is hopes to investigate how peers influence mental health recovery trajectories for youth attending mental health treatment programming and the implications this may have for educational policy and practice once youth leave treatment and return to their general education classes. Lastly Michelle is interested in examining the human rights of Autistic youth in their ability to have their sexual and gender identities recognized as authentic as these identities are often viewed as a symptom of being on the Autism spectrum, rather than as an authentic self.  She is interested in how to better support these youth and how to prevent them from experiencing potential mental health disorders as a result.

Jonah Kember
Jonah received his BA (Hons.) from Brock University, with a major in Child and Youth Studies. He is now an MA student in the department under the supervision of Dr. Erin Panda. Their research is in developmental cognitive neuroscience and is focused on using electrophysiology (EEG) to understand neurocognitive development. Through this, Jonah has been involved in research examining how the functional brain networks associated with reading develop. For his Masters research, he is broadly interested in examining the neural activity associated with inhibitory control. He hopes to extend these research areas to better understand neurodiverse children (i.e., those diagnosed with ADHD and Reading Disabilities).

Sandra Kroeker
Sandra received her Honours B.Sc in Psychology at Brock University and completed her M.A in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University. Upon completing her second M.A in Social Justice at Brock University she wishes to continue her goal of compiling a case against Precarious Work in Canada. Working with Dr. Tom O’Neill in the Child and Youth PhD program, she hopes to add how children and youth are negatively affected by their engagement with precarious work or vicariously through their parents’ precarious jobs. Her previous research has involved the breaking down binaristic thinking and resolving dualisms (Reason & Emotion, Male & Female, Quantitative & Qualitative) this time she will look at resolving Love & Work.

Yana Lakman

Yana Lakman
Yana is a PhD student in Child and Youth Studies. She is working with Dr. Heather Chalmers to examine an understudied population of children and youth called “Young Carer” who provide care for their family member(s).

She is specifically interested to explore the attachment between children who provide care and their parents (the care recipients). She has finished her MA in the CHYS department where she developed a Young Carer Profile. Her undergraduate degree in psychology was obtained from the University of Ottawa.

Jiayi Li
Jiayi is a MA student in the CHYS department, supervised by Dr. Naomi Andrews and Dr. Tony Volk. She completed her BA at the University of Alberta, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Her previous research experience is related to qualitative data coding, systematic review, and meta-analysis. For her thesis, she is interested in youth peer relationship, bullying and peer victimization, and coping process of youth victims.

Nabin Maharjan
Nabin Maharjan holds an M.A. in Social Policy and Development from the Middlesex University, UK where his dissertation focused on Nepal’s health inequalities comparing the rural health care services with urban. He received his B.A. in Development Studies from the Kathmandu University, Nepal; and a Diploma in Development Leadership with specialization in Advocacy and Citizen Engagement from the Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada.

He has worked extensively with vulnerable and socially marginalized youth of Nepal, specially People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and People Who Use Drug (PWUD). His work focused on health/human rights of marginalized youth and their meaningful participation in the policy reform process in Nepal.

Presently, Nabin is working on his Ph.D. in Child and Youth Studies (CHYS) under the supervision of Dr. Tom O’Neill. For his Ph.D. research, he intends to examine the role of youth civic engagement to re-establish social trust in highly stratified communities of Nepal, with a particular focus on youth-led community development initiatives in the context of the ongoing political transformation and post-disaster rebuilding process.

Jake Maiuri
My name is Jake Maiuri and I am starting my first year of Brock University’s PhD Child and Youth Studies (CHYS) program. This is actually my 8th year in a row as a Brock Badger. Before I entered into graduate studies, I had completed the Concurrent Education Primary/Junior CHYS Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program and the Master of Arts CHYS Program. I am working under the supervision of Dr. John McNamara, interested in the field of learning disabilities, whom I also worked with throughout my undergraduate and MA thesis projects. I am currently studying the effects of prenatal heroin exposure on neonatal learning development over time. I am looking at what pre-existing literature suggests on the effect of maternal heroin use on a newborn child’s learning development throughout a single illustrative-case study and if it can be combatted through intensive support and tutoring. My long-term goal is to address a significant gap in this area of research that is extremely relevant but scarcely studied. I hope this research will inform and educate many areas including hospitals, orphanages and foster homes.

Kelly McCowell
Kelly is an MA student in the Child and Youth Studies department working alongside Dr. Donato Tarulli. She received her Bachelor of Education degree as well as her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brock University in 2018. She then went on to teach full- time for two years with the Hamilton- Wentworth Catholic District School Board. She has taught science and physical education for kindergarten and primary students as well as music/ dance/drama for all grades in elementary.

Kelly’s research interests pertain to developmental psychology, with an intent to hypothesize, create and test theories and explanations regarding how thinking, feeling and behaviors change throughout infanthood to adolescence. She is particularly concerned with the factors that influence specific developmental processes such as nurturance, entitlement, self determination, resiliency and problem resolution. She is hoping to achieve the title of ‘Clinical Psychologist’ one day.

Alec Moore
Education: BA (Honours) in Child and Youth Studies with a minor in Indigenous Studies from Brock University. Currently doing my MA in Child and Youth Studies under the supervision of Dr. Hannah Dyer.
Areas of interest: My areas of interest are Disability studies and geopolitics. Particularly how geopolitics impact the ways in which neurodiverse individuals/individuals experiencing disability are conceptualized, defined, managed, and accommodated in various societies. This interest was sparked from the years of experience working with organizations that support or provide programming for neurodiverse individuals, as well as by my experience of growing up with a neurodiverse twin brother. My brother played a fundamental role in my undergraduate thesis project about how a neurodiverse sibling may interpret their sibling relationship.
Current Idea: I am hoping to expand my knowledge on how Canadian Indigenous communities define and manage neurodiversity within their communities.


Emily Murphy
Emily is a PhD student in Child and Youth Studies and is primarily interested in the affective remains of childhood trauma and aesthetic modes of survival, with secondary interests in digital youth cultures and posthuman subjectivities. Her work incorporates elements of queer theory, cultural studies, affect theory and sound studies. In her SSHRC funded dissertation research, under the supervision of Dr. Hannah Dyer, Emily will explore how the affective remains of queer childhoods are materially elaborated on the dancefloors of queer nightclubs, and the imaginative potentials that lie therein. She approaches research with a transdisciplinary mindset, and seeks out methodologies that accommodate messy and multiple ways of knowing and forms of knowledge dissemination that extend beyond the academic manuscript. Emily is a graduate student affiliate of the Posthumanism Research Institute at Brock University and a co-founder of SOAK, a Toronto-Montreal based collective aimed at supporting women and non-binary artists in experimental electronic music.


Haley Myatt
Haley holds a diploma in Event Coordination from Holland College, a Bachelor of Public Relations degree from Mount Saint Vincent University, and an LLM in International Human Rights from the National University of Ireland – Galway. Her LLM thesis was on children’s right to play and recreational activities in Canada, focusing on the role of sports and the impacts of competitiveness. She is broadly interested in youth leadership, advocacy and participation, as well as children and youth in sport, and impacts of food insecurity and homelessness for young people. Haley is a Master’s student and is under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Raby. She will be examining the effectiveness of student councils/governments in secondary schools in Atlantic Canada. Examining this issue through lenses of youth participation, children’s rights, education and leadership, she hopes to answer questions of impact, social justice, skills and empowerment.


Abbaigeal O’Leary
Abbaigeal recently graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Bachelor of Education. She completed her fourth-year honours thesis with Dr. Maureen Connolly to explore how Ontario’s revised human development and sexual health curriculum would influence the lived experiences of students.

Now a Master’s student in the Child and Youth Studies department, Abbaigeal is continuing to work with Dr. Maureen Connolly to research sexual health education in Ontario further. With a special interest in inclusive education and child advocacy she will investigate whether Ontario’s curriculum effectively reflects the lives of students in today’s society.

Veronica Panchyshyn
Veronica graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour from McMaster University in 2017. During her undergraduate degree, she completed a senior honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Bruce Linder to improve the quality of life for adults who have sustained an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).
After graduating from McMaster University in 2017, she has since worked in the field to assist clients with ABI to gain dignity, respect, independence and autonomy for those affected by the symptoms of ABI.
While working in the field, Veronica also perused her Masters of Education with a specialization in Applied Behavioural Analysis from the University of Western Ontario.

Veronica is now a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Ayda Tekok-Kilic in the Developmental Neuroscience Lab.

Emma Peddigrew
Emma is a PhD student in the CHYS department. She completed her Honours BA in CHYS with a minor in Sociology and her MA in CHYS and Brock University with her current supervisor, Dr. John McNamara. Emma’s SSHRC funded masters research adopted a critical disability studies lens to understand the transitional experience and role of mental health for first year students with a diagnosed learning disability. Her broad research interests include learning disabilities, children and youth mental health, critical disability studies, and social-emotional learning. Emma is passionate about self-advocacy for young people, specifically those who are traditionally marginalized, such as those with learning disabilities. For her SSHRC funded doctoral work, Emma is looking to research the dual diagnosis of learning disabilities and mental health for children and youth, an area not typically considered as one.

Prakisha Pradhan
Prakisha is an MA student working under the supervision of Dr. Thomas O’Neill. She completed her Social Service Worker Diploma at Sheridan College, Fundraising Management Certificate at Ryerson University and BA (Honours) degree in Child and Youth Studies at Brock University.

Her previous work with both national (Canadian Newa Guthi, India Rainbow Community Services, Naya Goreto – Nepal) and international non-profit organizations (World Vision, Action Aid Nepal, Save the Children, Hellen Keller International) generated a research interest in exploring representation of children and youth in philanthropic work, specifically in Fundraising Campaigns. For her Masters, she seeks to further explore the topic in conjunction with UNCRC.

Anne Readhead

Anne Readhead
Anne received her B.A. in psychology from McMaster University. She continued her graduate studies at Brock University, completing her M.A. with the Centre for Applied Disabilities.

Her area of study was a case study of an innovative organization that supports five social enterprises that provide an inclusive employment option for persons with developmental disabilities. This study was part of a larger project conducted by the Social Business for Marginalized Social Groups CURA based at the University of Toronto. The larger project involved several social enterprises in Toronto. After graduating with her M.A., she continued to be a member of the Brock research team working on this project.

Anne has recently begun her CHYS PhD working with Dr. Fran Owen. Her research continues to focus on the examination of the Integrated Transitional Aged Youth process in the Niagara region for persons with IDD and the use of social return on investment as a valuation model. Anne has experienced the majority of her employment working for the developmental services sector including children and adult services. While employed as a residential manager, Anne was the agency liaison for the 3Rs CURA project at Brock University.

Anne is a strong advocate for human rights within developmental services. She has assisted with the development, planning and facilitating of her agency’s Rights Review Committee. Anne has also facilitated numerous Interactive-Behavioural Therapy groups with persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Niki Sinha
Niki is a MA student working under the supervision of Dr. Jan Frijters. Their primary research focus is in cognitive neuroscience where they are particularly interested in processes of attention and ADHD. In their master’s thesis Niki will be using neuroimaging methods to observe the biological role of the attentional control network in reading acquisition in a group of children with developmental dyslexia. Dyslexia and ADHD are highly comorbid disorders. This research will help to explore that comorbidity and give some insight into the mechanics of reading development.

In their previous work Niki studied neuroscience and mental health at Carleton University. There they were largely interested in the cognitive cerebellum and its ties to developmental disorders. This interest has happily made its way back into their current lab, which is a very exciting coincidence. You just never know.

Natalie Spadafora

Natalie Spadafora
Natalie is a PhD student in the Department of Child and Youth Studies, currently working under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Volk. Natalie also completed her Masters of Arts in the department under the supervision of Dr. Zopito Marini. Coming from an education background, also completing her Bachelor of Education here at Brock, Natalie’s research takes a psychoeducational perspective. To this point, her research has focused on children and youth, specifically in the area of adolescent bullying. She is interested in exploring mechanisms of why children and adolescents may be choosing to engage in antisocial behaviour (e.g., the environment, individual differences). The main focus of her doctoral research will be to explore the concept of adolescent incivility, as a potential explanatory pathway to more antisocial behaviour, such as bullying.

Nicole Staite
Nicole received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Child and Youth Studies from Brock University, and is currently a Master’s student working under the supervision of Dr. Tricia Vause.

With a passion for working with children and youth with neurodevelopmental disorders (ND), Nicole developed a 9-week recreational dance program called Dance with a B-E-A-T! (Behavioral Analysis and Therapy). Her program uses recreational dance, behavioral analysis and therapeutic components to target gross-motor and balance skills, self-efficacy, sense of belonging and self-esteem in children and youth diagnosed with a ND and/or anxiety disorder. Dance with a B-E-A-T! uses the child’s strengths (heightened energy, movement, and creativity in children with NDs), as well as therapeutic components such as breathing and relaxation coping mechanisms to target these keystone domains while fostering an environment that promotes belonging, friendship, and confidence. Nicole is excited to pilot Dance with a B-E-A-T! at Pathstone Mental Health to better understand the facilitators and barriers to her intervention program.

Natalie Tacuri
Natalie recently graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Child and Youth Studies and Applied Linguistics. She completed her fourth year honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Dawn Zinga and Dr. Danielle Molnar to explore competitive dance culture in dance studios and postsecondary contexts.

As a Master’s student, Natalie 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.

Grayson Wadsworth-Hayes
Grayson is a recent graduate from the Child and Youth Studies department in 2019 with a minor in Psychology. She worked under the supervision of Dr. Richard Mitchell for her undergraduate thesis and now again for her Master’s thesis
Grayson was the student representative for her master’s cohort on the child and youth studies graduate committee. In 2019, Grayson received the Spirit of Brock Medal for the Faculty of Social Sciences at the undergraduate level.
Grayson’s area of interests in research are in mental health, children’s rights, and the impacts that trauma/abuse can have on children. Her undergraduate thesis studied the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual Volume 5 (DSM-5) and the controversies surrounding around the implementation with children. For her master’s thesis she aims to explore media portrayal of Young Climate Activists.

Lisa Whittingham
Lisa Whittingham is a PhD student in the Department of Child and Youth Studies. She completed both her undergraduate degree in Psychology and her M.A. in Applied Disability Studies (with a concentration in applied behaviour analysis) from Brock University. Her research interests focus on the interactions of persons labeled as vulnerable (e.g., persons with developmental disabilities, mental disorders, youth) with the criminal justice system. For her SSHRC-funded PhD dissertation, she will be working with Dr. Voula Marinos to examine the legal (e.g., type of offence) and extralegal (e.g., communication skills) variables that police use in decision-making when responding to incidents involving person with developmental disabilities.

Lisa is also a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). She became interested in police responses to persons with developmental disabilities while working as a behaviour consultant for adults with developmental disabilities in the community. Her practice focused primarily on working with individuals with complex needs including individuals with dual diagnosis, high-risk criminal offenders with intellectual disabilities (including sexual offenders), fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and mental health consumers experiencing crisis. She remains interested in how various therapies (e.g., applied behaviour analysis, third wave cognitive behaviour therapies) can be used to promote quality of life and be used to support the needs of these populations.