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Lab Members

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Michael W. Best

Dr. Best is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychological Clinical Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough and is an Affiliate Scientist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. Dr. Best completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Queen’s University and his predoctoral internship at the Aaron T. Beck Center for Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

His research focuses on cognitive treatments for psychotic disorders and understanding the mechanisms for how these treatments improve people’s lives. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on how thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are interconnected and contribute to a person’s quality of life. Cognitive Remediation is a treatment to improve neurocognitive abilities such as attention, memory, and problem-solving with the ultimate goal of improving a person’s ability to engage in activities in everyday life.

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Graduate Students:

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Sylvia Romanowska

Sylvia is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program. She completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Alberta and an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Calgary.

Her research interests include neurocognition and functional recovery in schizophrenia-spectrum illness, treatment approaches in first-episode psychosis, and service user engagement in serious mental illness.

 

When she’s not in the lab, she enjoys cooking, traveling, singing, and hiking.

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Talia Leibovitz

Talia is a doctoral student in the Psychological Clinical Science Program at UTSC. Her undergraduate degree in Psychology was completed at Queen’s University.

Talia is primarily interested in researching the mechanisms of CBT and cognitive remediation for psychosis. Her goal is to contribute to the refinement of these therapeutic techniques so that they are more effective in improving functional outcomes and quality of life for individuals diagnosed with psychosis. She also strives to increase accessibility to these treatments.

Other than psychology, Talia enjoys hiking, animals, drinking coffee and doing crosswords! She is passionate about supporting others and always welcomes questions and/or chats!

Shreya Jagtap

Shreya is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program. She completed a BSc in Mental Health Studies at the University of Toronto. 

 

Broadly, her research interests include exploring the relationship between symptom dimensions and functional/neurocognitive recovery in those with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders,  as well as identifying processes in evidence-based therapies for SSDs, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and cognitive remediation therapy, that support this recovery.  

In her spare time, Shreya enjoys watching movies, playing videogames, and exploring the city with her dog.  

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Robert Aidelbaum

Rob is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He completed an MA in Clinical Psychology at the University of Toronto and an MA in Experimental Psychology at Carleton University.

 

Rob’s research interests involve analyzing the manifestation of both neurocognition and social cognition in various diagnostic groups across the psychosis spectrum and assessing how patterns of impairment may be influencing real-world functioning. The goal of his research is to improve our understanding of the connection between cognition and functioning, in the hopes of supporting the development of novel treatments aimed at improving areas causing lasting distress that do not respond to current standard treatments.  

When not in the lab, you will likely find Rob either camping, skiing, working in his garden, watching a movie, or playing with his dog.

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Jess D'Arcey

Jess is a first-year MA student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. She completed her BSc in Mental Health Studies at UTSC as well as an MSc in Medical Science at the University of Toronto and CAMH.

 

Broadly, her research interests are in exploring mechanisms of symptom maintenance and recovery in psychosis. More specifically, Jess is interested in cognitive and emotional models of symptom maintenance in hopes of highlighting new treatment targets and finding ways to adapt current treatments. She hopes to center lived experience in her work.

 

Outside of psychology, Jess enjoys spending her time outside in nature with her pup, camping, crafting,  spending time with friends, or curled up with her cat and a good book! 

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Aqsa Zahid

 

Aqsa is a Master’s student in the Clinical Psychology graduate program at University of Toronto Scarborough. She completed her Honours Bachelor of Science degree at the same university where she specialized in mental health studies.

Aqsa is interested in researching stigma among individuals with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders in order to understand how it may be impacting one’s general functioning, quality of life, rate of recovery, etc. She hopes to include the examination of various forms of stigma in her research (e.g., internalized, public, provider/professional, and institutional stigma). Aqsa’s goal is to underscore the importance of addressing stigma in treatment interventions and to build an understanding of which individuals in this population may be more vulnerable to it.

 

Apart from her studies, Aqsa really enjoys painting, exercising, cooking, and spending time with her cat! An ideal weekend for her would include all of these activities with the addition of unlimited coffee and French Vanillas from Tim Hortons! 

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Post - Doctoral Student:

Lynn Rutledge

Dr. Lynn Rutledge is a post-doctoral student in the

Departments of Psychology and Psychological Clinical Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Lynn completed her Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto at the Rehabilitation Science Institute. She completed a Post Professional Master’s Degree of Science in Occupational Therapy, a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Occupational Therapy (Honours), and a Bachelor's Degree of Science in Psychology (Honours) at Dalhousie University.  

 

Her current research interests include doing quantitative and qualitative research with individuals with complex neurological and psychological conditions including people living with psychosis and severe traumatic brain injury. Lynn has over 20 years of experience as a practicing occupational therapist. Lynn's interests outside of work include running, biking, swimming, and skiing. 

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Peer Researcher:

Allison Dyer

Allison Dyer is a Peer Researcher with an interest in researching how those with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders can live an abundant quality of life while evolving their own coping strategies.

 

With three years of experience in First Interventions Treatment Team (Scarborough Health Network) as a client, Allison hopes to continue in roles as Peer supports for those with Psychosis. 

 

When not reading up on Psychosis, she enjoys reading fictional stories, writing poems and watching movies.

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Primary Clinical Trial Manager:

Felicia Martins

Felicia is a University of Toronto graduate, where she obtained a HBSc with a specialization in Mental Health Studies. She has been a Horatio Alger Scholar since 2015, and was inducted into Psi Chi International Honour Society in Psychology in 2018. Her research interests broadly include severe mental illness and associated therapeutic interventions, trauma and emotion regulation, and reducing stigma.

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Lab Manager:

Christine Sexton

Christine received her HBA from Mount Allison University in Psychology focusing on motivation and reward pathways. She received a MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Guelph focusing on neuroendocrinology and it's effects on social behaviour. Her research interests currently are broadly focused on emotional regulation of trauma, severe mental illness, and stigma associated with severe mental illnesses.

 

When not in the lab, she enjoys playing music, cooking, or curling up with a coffee and a good book!

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Clinical Trial Coordinator: 

Hanna Hamzai

Hanna is a University of Toronto graduate where she earned a HBSc with a specialization in Mental Health Studies. Broadly, her research interests include improving our evidence-based knowledge of the mechanisms of symptom maintenance, recovery, and cognitive treatments for psychosis.

 

She is also interested in enhancing our understanding of the causes and impact of the internal and public stigma associated with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

 

She hopes to center lived experience in her work. 

When not in the lab, you will likely find Hanna spending time by the water or curled up with her cat and dog!

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Clinical Trial Therapist:

Marie Kessaris

Marie (MA Counselling Psychology) is a qualifying Registered Psychotherapist under the supervision of Dr. Mike Best. Utilizing the structure, theory, and techniques of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), Marie maintains curiousity and respect for the wisdom of the participants with whom she collaborates. Marie is passionate about obstacle-free mental health services, person-centered treatment, facilitating a compassionate perspective of mental health issues, and recognizing strengths in people.

Marie's research interests include the relationships between psychosis and adverse childhood experiences (ACE), attachment, systemic/intergenerational trauma, and emotional expression. 

In moments of spare time, Marie enjoys watching movies and documentaries, stop-motion animation, playing board and videogames, and searching for new music.

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Supervised study/Thesis students:

Janeve Edwards

Kathleen Tremells

Research Assistants:

Janeve is a fourth-year undergraduate student, pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Under the supervision of Dr. Best and Jess D’Arcey,  Janeve is completing a study through PSYC90, focused on understanding the cognitive biases associated with schizotypy.

 

Broadly, her research interests are encompassed by both social and clinical psychology, with a primary focus on research that bridges elements of the two areas together. Specifically, Janeve is interested in learning more about mental illness and effective treatment methods in addition to symptom dimensions involved in schizophrenia and their impact on thoughts/behaviour.

 

Outside of psychology, Janeve enjoys cooking, baking, exercising, reading and spending time with her friends and family!


Aaima Cheema

Athen Lau

Bhavana Akilan

Denisa Lazar

Eshanika Dinesh
Insia Ali Razi

Joy Singh

Lina Rguig

Laura Ramos
 


 

Kathleen is currently a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough, completing an HBSc degree in Specialist Co-op Mental Health Studies.

Coming into the TIP lab as a PSYD98 undergraduate thesis student, Kathleen’s main research focus is that of cognitive biases in bipolar disorder. In particular, she’s interested in emotional control, schemas, and appraisals as they relate to manic symptomatology.

When not studying, you can most probably find Kathleen rambling about her day in her Notes app or journal as well as listening to music (she’s always open to new artist/song suggestions)!

Nitha Vincent

Rawan Hedefa

Ridi Riaz

Saleena Zedan

Selin Khatchigian

Stephanie Perschilli

Sunehra Sarwar

Sharlane Lau

Stephanie Persichilli

Lab Alumni:

Karin Onno (Lab Manager)

Lola Wazir (Clinical Trial Coordinator)

Zoryana Babiy (Research Assistant)

Sannan Saheeb (Research Assistant)

Harjas Singh (Research Assistant)

Laiba Rizwan (Research Assistant)

 Zoryana Babiy (Research Assistant)

Mehmet Topyurek (Research Assistant)

Kartik Kambli (Research Assistant)

Stephanie Barakat (Research Assistant)