Dawson lab

Current Lab Members 

Emily Nalder

EmilyNalder-LRI am currently a postdoctoral fellow in Deirdre Dawson’s lab at Baycrest. My research focuses on exploring the lived experiences of individuals with chronic conditions and understanding the factors related to people, contexts, and health care systems which influence the effectiveness of rehabilitation. My doctoral studies were completed in Australia and explored the experiences of individuals with traumatic brain injury and their family caregivers during the transition from hospital to home. A mixed methods study was conducted to identify factors influencing successful transition and community reintegration. I am currently involved in two key research projects at the Rotman Research Institute with my postdoctoral supervisor Dr. Deirdre Dawson. The first, is a qualitative study seeking to identify the aspects of a novel intervention which confer the most benefit to individuals with acquired brain injury in managing executive dysfunction and improving every day functioning. The second project is investigating the clinical utility of the Multiple Errands Test an ecologically valid assessment of executive functioning.

Lisa Engel
lisaEngel-LRI am currently a PhD student in the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University of Toronto and my dissertation focuses on the assessment and promotion of independence of financial management skills after an acquired brain injury (ABI).  As a practicing Occupational Therapist in British Columbia (2007-2012) I became very interested in acquired brain injury, aging and cognition.  Particularly, I am interested in the impact cognitive abilities and impairments have on a person’s life activities and participations. I am interested in how we can accurately and reliably assess skills in daily life activities that are sensitive to impairments in cognition, such as financial management, medication management, and community participation activities.  Once we know how to accurately identify people with impairments then I would like to pursue the development and research of supports or interventions for activity and participation limitations that help optimize independence, safety and quality of life.

Adora Chui
AdoraIn my role as Occupational Therapy Research Fellow, I have the opportunity to be involved in various aspects of research.  I am a registered occupational therapist (Ontario) and as a research therapist in Dr. Dawson’s lab, deliver a metacognitive intervention in the community as part of a randomized controlled trial comparing two forms of therapy for those with acquired brain injury.  At Baycrest, I help manage the daily, behind-the-scenes running of the lab and support the work of my colleagues.  My interests are in the areas of brain injury and mental health, and I desire to see improved knowledge translation for evidence-based practice.  I am also motivated to see effective rehabilitation services made more accessible for individuals, families, and in particular, marginalized populations.

Rebecca Wright
RebeccaWright-LRAs a research assistant at Baycrest, I am currently involved in two clinical trials running in Dr Dawson’s lab. In one study  I am responsible for administering qualitative interviews with individuals with acquired brain injury and their family members to explore the important components of two therapy programs in conferring a benefit to individuals and improving their every day functioning. In the second study I am drawing on my professional training as a Music Therapist and examining the efficacy of two different interventions for improving arm and hand mobility in stroke patients. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in Music Therapy at the University of Windsor, I was interested in pursuing a graduate degree to further my research and educational experience, and will begin a Master’s program in Critical Disability Studies at York University in the fall of 2013. My main areas of focus for research include Neurologic Music Therapy and how music therapy can help facilitate brain healing and rehabilitation after injury, disability, or disease. I plan to further my research experience at Baycrest and in the graduate program by studying how the arts and music can provide people with disabilities with cognitive and physical rehabilitation, empowerment, and healing.

Jie Chang
JieChang-LRI am an undergraduate student at University of Toronto and am currently working in the Dawson lab as a research assistant. I have been involved in several studies and my roles have included administering neuropsychological tests, scoring the results and managing large databases for a clinical trial. I am interested in learning more about neuropsychological tests, especially the multiple errands test, and cognitive rehabilitation following acquired brain injuries.

Alisia Bonnick
AlisiaBonnick-LRI am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and am primarily interested in how people recover (physically and psychologically) from traumatic and debilitating incidents. I intend to pursue graduate school in the years to come and am working at building experience in the field and learning more about the ways in which integration to the society can be facilitated and stigma can be reduced.

Ryan Howes
RyanRyan is in his final year of an honours bachelor of science degree in mental health studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a co-op student in Dawson lab, Ryan works primarily on a rehabilitation study of executive dysfunction for people with an acquired brain injury: coordinating participants, organizing data, and administering and scoring neuropsychological tests. Ryan also works actively with Dr. Marc Fournier at the University of Toronto Scarborough on studies of identity and narrative psychology. He will be applying to graduate school for clinical psychology upon the completion of his undergraduate degree. His research interests include self-knowledge, identity, motivation, the psychotherapeutic process, and mindfulness.

Natasha Gill
NatashaI am an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. Presently, I am working in Dr. Deirdre Dawson’s lab as a student research assistant. The research project I am assisting with compares the efficacy of two different methods of occupational therapy for individuals who have had a stroke or traumatic brain injury. My primary responsibility is the administration of various neuropsychological tests, along with scoring, entering, and checking data. I am very interested in abnormalities of the brain and the recovery process. My goal is to strengthen my practical skills in the lab and expand my knowledge about how research is conducted. In the future I intend to pursue a graduate degree, most likely in Clinical Psychology.

Liam Wright
LiamI am an undergraduate student pursuing my degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. I am currently working as a co-op student in Dr. Dawson’s research laboratory. 
My main research interests involve the ecological validity of various neuropsychological measures, acquired and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, the efficacy of measures of aggression, and research looking into Alzheimer’s disease. I intend to pursue my graduate degree in clinical psychology upon completing my undergraduate studies, and I am looking forward to gaining valuable practical experience in a research-based environment through my work with Dr. Dawson.


Past Lab Members 

Valérie Poulin
ValeriePoulin-LRI am completing a PhD in Rehabilitation Science at McGill University (co-supervised by Dr. Deirdre Dawson). My main research interests are related to cognitive rehabilitation of persons with stroke, particularly those with executive dysfunction. One of the studies I am currently working on compares two promising interventions to improve executive function and functional skills after stroke: 1) Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance (CO-OP), a problem-solving approach that entails guiding participants to set self-selected functional goals, develop plans, carry out their plans and verify goal attainment; and, 2) computer-based executive function training. I am also interested in knowledge translation; I am currently creating a multi-modal web-based tool for clinicians, persons with stroke and their family that will provide the latest evidence on the assessment and treatment of executive dysfunction post-stroke. 

Niki Norouzian
I am a student at the University of Toronto and have recently finished my second year studying psychology. The topics I am interested in are still rather broad but neuropsychology, social psychology, and clinical psychology (particularly the use of cognitive-behavioural methods for mood and anxiety disorders) have stood out. At the moment, I hope to pursue a Masters in Clinical Psychology. Currently, I am working with Dr. Deirdre Dawson, as a co-op student, and conducting neuropsychological testing. This is for a study that is comparing the efficacy of two forms of occupational therapy, for sufferers of brain damage, particularly strokes and TBIs.

Lindsay Woods
LindsayWoods-LRI’m currently completing my Masters in Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto and doing a research project in the Dawson Lab. My research involves exploring the experiences of financial management in individuals with traumatic brain injury. After TBI an individual’s ability to independently manage their finances decreases yet there is limited qualitative research exploring individuals’ experiences with financial management after TBI. My goal is to explore the subjective experience of financial management after TBI.

Kathryn Koller
KathrynKoller-LRI am a Masters student in the department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. I have a Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from McMaster University. I am currently working on my graduate research project at Baycrest Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Deirdre Dawson. My research is investigating the experiences in regards to financial management independence in individuals after a traumatic brain injury. The research will be qualitative descriptive and will use in-depth qualitative interviews to uncover these experiences.

Anne Williams Hunt
I am a PhD student in the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science at University of Toronto. I am also an occupational therapist whose research interests include: real world cognitive training of individuals with executive dysfunction from acquired brain injury or the aging process; and the influence of self-regulation on executive function. My PhD research is entitled, “An exploration of self-identified goal formulation in adults with executive dysfunction”. By definition, people with executive dysfunction have impairment in their ability to identify day-to-day life goals and yet many interventions in cognitive rehabilitation are goal based. Most research to date has examined the process used to achieve goals rather than the process used by the individual to identify these goals in the first place. My research proposes to examine the process of self-identified goal formulation more closely in this population, to develop a training method for goal formulation and to test the effectiveness of this training. I am the recipient of a Doctoral Research Award (Occupational Therapy in Mobility & Aging) from the Canadian Institute of Health Research.