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.

Grad Students:

Sylvia Romanowska

Sylvia is a first year MA 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.

Talia Leibovitz

Talia is a first year Master’s 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 first year MA 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.  

Peer Researcher:

Laboratory Manager:

Felicia Martins

Felicia is a 5th year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she is pursuing an HBSc with a Specialization in Mental Health Studies and a Major in Neuroscience. 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.

Clinical Trial Coordinator:

Lola Wazir

Lola is interested in the fields of research that investigate the effects of an individual's environment on psychosis. She enjoys hot Pilates and hiking in her free time.

Undergraduate Thesis Students:

Aaima Cheema

Hi! I'm Aaima, a 4th year student studying mental health and neuroscience at University of Toronto Scarborough. I have spent 4 years volunteering at Etobicoke General Hospital and am in training to be a mentor for at risk youth, with the Youth Assisting Youth program. Most importantly, I am a firm advocate for mental health awareness and will be doing a thesis related to schizophrenia this coming year. My research interests involve stigma associated with mental illness and cultural research related to depression and anxiety. In the future I plan on pursuing a masters degree in clinical psychology. In my free time I enjoy reading and listening to music.

Aqsa Zahid

My name is Aqsa Zahid and I am a third-year student specializing in Mental Health Studies. In this lab, I have spent my time investigating stigma associated with negative symptoms of schizophrenia. With this, I will be completing a thesis project which will also be related to schizophrenia. Apart from this lab, my research interests include studying malingering, symptom validity and decision making. After the completion of my degree, I plan on completing my master’s degree in either clinical psychology or psychotherapy.

Nitha Vincent

Hi! I’m Nitha and I’m a 5th year student specializing in Mental Health Studies. My areas of interest include psychological assessment, disorder diagnosis and clinical psychotherapy. I have been a volunteer at St. Michael’s Hospital for 2 years and have been involved in different mental health clubs at UTSC including being a volunteer teacher for Brain Hackers (teaching psychological and neuroscience concepts to high school students for a summer) and the social media coordinator for In Visibility, a club dedicated to making mental health more visible on campus. My career goal is to become a clinical psychologist and have my own practice where I can fulfil my dream of helping as many people as I can and hopefully become a professor one day. 

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.

Allison Dyer

Research Assistants:

Rawan Hedefa

Rida Riaz

Sannan Saheeb

Stephanie Barakat

Laura Ramos

Harjas Singh
Insia Ali Razi

Kartik Kambli
Kaylynn Brant

Laiba Rizwan

Mehmet Topyurek


Lab Alumni:

Karin Onno (Lab Manager)