"Stress is life and life is stress" - Dr. Hans Selye (1956)

Rima Azar, PhD


Dr. Rima Azar is the founder/director of the Psychobiology of Stress & Health Lab (PSHL). She is an Associate Professor at Mount Allison University. She joined the Psychology Department in 2008 and earned tenure in 2011. Dr. Azar held a CIHR New Investigator Salary Award in Developmental Psychoneuroimmunology from 2011-2016. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Université de Moncton and an Honorary Research Associate at UNB. Since Sept 2013, she has served as a CIHR Advisory Board/Council Member for the Institute of Human Development, Child, and Youth Health (IHDCYH).

She is grateful for the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation (NBCF)’ $750K grant to jointly implement/co-lead NaviCare / SoinsNavi (formerly known as the NB Navigation Centre for Children with Complex Health Conditions) with her Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Shelley Doucet. What a beautiful collaboration (good marriage!) between our respective institutions, UNB Saint John & Mount A. Dr. Azar’s research focuses on the: (1) Inflammatory and endocrine mechanisms linking prenatal stress and depression to birth weight & (2) Maternal and paternal coping strategies when facing child chronic illnesses. Dr. Azar’s projects are funded by several federal as well as provincial agencies, including CIHR, RSC, NBHRF, & NBCF, a charity organization. She is also thrilled to be involved in provincial and Pan-Canadian research networks aimed to better serve children/youth such as the $25 million-funded CHILD BRIGHT.

Over her career, she has worked with newborns, children, teens, and their families- both as a stress researcher and as a developmental clinician. She is a proud aunt and, in a recent second life, she and her husband have been involved in the foster care system in NB, as foster parents.

Nina Hindrichs, B.Sc.

Project Coordinator

Nina Hindrichs is from Lynden, Ontario. In 2015 she graduated from MTA with a B.A. Honours after having worked with Dr. Azar on research concerning "smoking in youth with and without past depression". After graduation, Nina became a member of the PSHL team building the NB Virtual Health Centre for Children. She is the project coordinator for the CIHR Quick Strike grant.

Julie Lewis, B.Sc, M.Sc Candidate

PSHL Staff Consultant (and former Research Coordinator)

Julie holds a M.Sc. from Mount Allison University (supervised by Dr. Vett Lloyd) and a B.Sc. Honours with Specialization in Biology from the University of Ottawa ('08). She is a research professional intrigued by a multidisciplinary approach to knowledge, which explains her interest in studying psychoneuroimmunology. She joined the Psychobiology of Stress & Health Lab (PSHL) in August 2011.

In May 2015, Julie left the Lab to join the Master of Science program at Mount Allison University. She will be assessing the risk of Lyme disease in New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. Vett Lloyd. Congratulations, Julie!

Julie worked as the research coordinator of an ongoing PSHL multi-site clinical study entitled “Feelings matter when expecting a baby: the psychoneuroimmunology of pregnancy”. Other tasks within the lab included editorial activities as well as helping with the coordination of other research projects. She recently submitted a manuscript to be reviewed for publication, with Dr. Rima Azar as a co-author.

Additionally, she has participated in the organization of lab activities such as:

  • A CIHR Café Scientifique entitled “My body is simmering: Minimizing the inflammatory effect of stress & depression”. This community-based event was widely attended (Fall 2012).

  • Mount Allison University's research open house where the PSHL was chosen, along with two other labs, to give a media tour in order to celebrate the contributions of funding agencies to the university, as well as highlight the novel research at MTA's labs (Fall 2011).

Angela Thibodeau

Former coordinator,

Angela Thibodeau is the former coordinator for the proposed NaviCare/SoinsNavi centre, a resource for NB families and their children with complex health needs. She first started working with the PSHL as a research assistant in October 2015, offering organizational support for the needs assessment phase of the NB Virtual Health Centre for Children. Angela is also conducting family interviews for a study called Children with complex health conditions: Let’s learn who they are and their needs to better serve them!

In 2002, Angela graduated from the BFA program at MTA. She has a background as an office administrator for a family doctor. In her free time, Angela is an artist. Please visit to view her artwork.


Julie Richard

Honours Student

Julie Richard is is a 4th year Honours student in psychology. She will be studying Patient and Family Advisory Councils. In her free time, Julie volunteers at a local nursing home, plays bass guitar and enjoys whittling. She plans to do a Masters of Social Work after graduation.

Kenzie Schultz

Directed Studies Student

Kenzie Shultz is a 3rd year Directed Studies student from Moncton, New Brunswick. Kenzie is looking forward to seeing the end result of NaviCare/SoinsNavi and how it affects families from across NB. Kenzie enjoys reading, jogging and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

Laurel White

Honours Student

Laurel White is a 4th year Directed Studies student from Prince Edward Island. Laurel’s project is focused on neonatal abstinence syndrome. She’s interested in how it can impact the rest of an individual’s life. Laurel swims on the varsity team and tutors with Mounties in Motion.

Daniel O'Connor

Honours Student

Daniel is a 4th year Directed Studies student from Chester, Nova Scotia. He is studying confidentiality in clinical rural practice of family medicine and psychology.


Phill Kim

Honours Student

Phill is a fourth year honours student at Mount Allison. His study involves interviews with educational stakeholders in New Brunswick and is called “Very first steps in building the NB Virtual Health Centre for Children: Learning from the stakeholders’ input on the educational needs of children with complex health conditions.” Overall, his goal is to understand the educational needs of children with complex health conditions in NB. Phill is excited to know that his contribution to the NB Virtual Health Centre for Children will better our community.

Kate Stymiest

Medical Student

Kate Stymiest is from Fredericton, New Brunswick. She graduated from Mount Allison with a BSc in Psychology and completed her Honours under the supervision of Dr. Azar. She is currently studying medicine at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.

Kate is pleased to maintain her ties with the PSHL team; she is currently conducting interviews with healthcare professionals to inform the NB Virtual Health Centre for Children study.

Sarah MacCallum

Honours Student

Sarah MacCallum is a fourth year B.Sc honours in psychology from Pictou, Nova Scotia. She is examining the social needs of children with complex health conditions in a project titled: Paving the Way for the New Brunswick Virtual Health Centre; Listening to the Stakeholders' Voices on the Social Needs of Children with Complex Health Conditions and their Families. Sarah is looking forward to seeing the project come together and helping the families of children with complex health conditions better address their needs.


Nina Hindrichs

Honours Student

My name is Nina Hindrichs and I am from Lynden, Ontario. I am currently going into fourth year. This year I will be researching "smoking in youth with and without past depression".

Meagan Blacquiere

Honours Student

From Allison, New Brunswick. Beyond my interests in psychology, I also enjoy playing hockey, dancing, and reading. I also have an appetite for learning and speaking new languages, especially my secondary language of French. My work this year will build upon research already done at the PSHL and will be looking at smoking in early pregnancy as it pertains to umbilical cord blood concentrations of C-reactive protein.


Alyssa James

Honours Student

My name is Alyssa James and I am from Moncton NB. I am currently going in my fourth year at MTA. This year I will be working on "Serum levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers as a function of the severity of depressive symptoms in nulliparous expectant women during early-to-mid pregnancy".

Kate Stymiest

Honours Student

Kate, from Fredericton, NB, enjoys reading and swimming in her spare time. The title of her research project with Dr. Azar is "Depressive Symptoms and Low Vitamin D in Expectant Women".


Mo Santander

Honours Student

Mo, from Glenwood Springs, CO, enjoys the hiking, backpacking, and generally discovering the Great Outdoors. In his time at PSHL, Mo studied the occupational satisfaction of correctional officers in Atlantic Canadian institutions. His thesis titled "Job Satisfaction, Managerial Satisfaction, and Turnover Intention in Atlantic Canadian Correctional Officers" is currently being adapted for publication in journal-article form.

Robert Calder

Honours Student

Robert, from Springhill, NS, enjoys building bicycles and developing board games. In the lab, Robert examines the prevalence and patterns related to prescription opiate use among male inmates in Canada, specifically poly-drug use, early-age drug use, and suicide. Robert currently resides in London pursuing career opportunities as well as continuing lab research.


Sarah Leger

Honours Student

Sarah, from Moncton NB, enjoys volunteering and travelling in her spare time, and is an avid reader for pleasure, even during the academic year. After completing her thesis in the PSHL, she went on to pursue a Master of Arts in Women and Gender Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University studying human sexuality and gender identity and performance. She will be graduating in May 2014 and hopes to continue on to her PhD, hopefully as an international student abroad.
Thesis Title: Do Smoking Self-reports and Biomarkers Tell the Same Story?

Adrian Gee

Independent Studies Student

Adrian, from Kitimat, BC spends his spare time playing volleyball, running/hiking, doing naturalistic photography, and going through various series on Netflix. In his time at PSHL, Adrian explored the relationship between childhood obesity and inflammatory markers such as C-Reactive protein. He is currently a student in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland where he is conducting a spatio-temporal analysis of STIs on the east coast with respect to domestic migratory behaviours. He also is working on an ongoing bone marrow and stem cell databasing project (One Match) with Canadian Blood Services.
Report Title: Childhood Obesity & C-Reactive Protein

Mo Santander

Independent Studies Student

In his time as an Independent Studies Student at PSHL, Mo examined health-psychological theories related to vaccine demand and the psychological aspects of preventative health behaviour in pandemic scenarios.
Report Title: H1N1 Pandemic: Lessons Learned


Pamela Hudson

Honours Student

Pamela, from Cascumpec PEI, spends her time enjoying running, yoga, photography, and spending time with friends and family. In her time at PSHL, Pamela studied the relationships between perceived social support of expectant mothers, fetal growth, and infant birthweight. Pamela continued in the field of health at Dalhousie University, where she completed a Master's Degree in Health Promotion, studying the social determinants of HIV/HCV prevention and risk among Aboriginal youth. Today, Pamela is a medical student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Pamela hopes to pursue family medicine with a particular focus on holistic health, Aboriginal health, and addiction treatment and prevention.
Thesis Title: Perceived Social Support During Pregnancy & Birth Weight

Sarah Smith

Independent Studies Student

Project Title: Mindfulness


Darren Mercer

Honours Student

In his time at PSHL, Darren examined the relationship between prenatal affect and inflammatory markers in the expectant mothers.
Thesis Title: Feelings matter in pregnancy: A pilot study to test whether prenatal affect influence 1. Maternal serum pro-inflammatory markers and 2. Fetal growth

Newspaper article on Darren's CIHR Graduate Scholarship

Annie Richard

Honours Student

In her time at PSHL, Annie studied the effect of smoking on markers of inflammation.
Thesis Title: Pilot Study: Salivary C-Reactive Protein as a measure of the effect of tobacco smoke exposure on inflammation.


Laura Stephenson

Honours Student

Thesis Title: Nagivating, surviving...and perhaps enjoying the freshman year: What can we learn from the relations between daily hassles, social support, and anxiety?

Sarah Smith

Independent Studies Student

Project Title: Does Postpartum Maternal Affect Effect Maternal Perceptions of Infant Health or Infant Health Outcome?

Graduates, All Years

Ms. P. Tryphanopoulos

Interdisciplinary Studies PhD Candidate at University of New Brunswick

Dissertation Title: Professional Interaction Guidance to improve maternal-infant relationships of depressed mothers: A Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT).

Dr. Azar has served on Ms. Tryphanopoulos' Dissertation Committee since 2010

Ms. V. Poulin

Psychologie Professionnelle (Clinique) PhD Candidate at Université de Moncton

Effet de la dramatisation sur la modulation émotionnelle de la douleur chez les individus de la douleur chronique

Effect of dramatization on the emotional modulation of pain among patients suffering from chronic pain

Dr. Azar serves as Internal Reviewer to Ms. Poulin's forthcoming dissertation

Ms. E. Faubert

Maitrise en Psychologie Candidate (2010) at Université de Moncton

Thesis Title: Le rôle médiateur de la colère dans la relation entre la dramatisation et l'expérience douloureuse

Thesis: The mediating role of anger in the relationship between dramatization and pain experience

Dr. Azar serves as External Reviewer to Ms. Faubert's Thesis

Ms. J. Lewis

M.Sc Candidate at Mount Allison University

Assessing the risk of Lyme disease in New Brunswick

Dr. Azar will serve as a member on her Thesis Supervisory Committee

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