Meet the team

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Dr. Rima Azar

Founder & Director of PSHL

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Julie Lewis

PSHL Staff Consultant

Angela Thibodeau

Former NaviCare Coordinator 

Nina Hindrichs

Former Project Coordinator


Dr. Rima Azar is an Associate Professor at Mount Allison University where she joined the Psychology Department in 2008, earned tenure in 2011, and is the founder/director of the Psychobiology of Stress & Health Lab (PSHL). Dr. Azar is also the Co-Director of NaviCare/SoinsNavi, which is a navigation centre for children/youth with complex care needs and their families in New Brunswick. Dr. Azar held a CIHR New Investigator in Developmental Psychoneuroimmunology award from 2011-2016. She is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Community Services at the Université de Moncton, an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, and an Honorary Research Associate in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). 

In addition, she is a scientific lead in the tripartite leadership of the NB-SPOR-PIHCI (New Brunswick Strategy for Patient Oriented Research - Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations) Network; a provincial network including over 100 stakeholders under the leadership of two researchers, two clinicians, and two policy makers. From September 2013 to December, 2019, she served as a CIHR Advisory Board Member for the Institute of Human Development, Child, and Youth Health (IHDCYH). She is grateful to the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation (NBCF) $750K grant, which funded the implementation of NaviCare/SoinsNavi (the NB navigation centre for children and youth with complex care needs) with Dr. Shelley Doucet from UNB Saint John. They launched this centre in New Brunswick on January 10, 2017. 

Taking a biopsychosocial approach to health, Dr. Azar’s work focuses on the biobehavioural mechanisms linking stress and health from a developmental perspective. She has a particular interest in: (1) maternal and paternal coping strategies when caring for children with chronic or complex health conditions; (2) patient/family navigation and peer-to-peer support for families of children/youth with complex care needs; & (3) biological (i.e. inflammatory and endocrine) mechanisms linking maternal prenatal depression and anxiety to birth weight, to postnatal stress response, and health. 

Dr. Azar’s projects are funded by several federal as well as provincial agencies, such as CIHR, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF), NBCF (a charity organization), and the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). She is thrilled to be involved in provincial and Pan-Canadian research networks aimed to better serve children/youth such as the $25 million-funded SPOR-CHILD BRIGHT. Over her career, she has worked with newborns, children, adolescents, 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.

Teaching: Leading the Learning Boat to Shore - Please click for an article written by Dr. Azar on the topic of leadership and teaching.

Julie holds B.Sc. Honours with Specialization in Biology from University of Ottawa and a M.Sc. from Mount Allison University. She is currently a PhD candidate at Université de Moncton working with Dr. Vett Lloyd, a professor at Mount Allison University, and Dr. Gilles Robichaud, a professor from Université de Moncton that has his lab at the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute. 

Julie is a research professional intrigued by a multidisciplinary approach to knowledge, which explains her interest in studying psychoneuroimmunology, even though her background was almost purely in biology. 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, where she assessed the risk of Lyme disease in New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. Vett Lloyd. She is now studying Morgellons disease and the epigenetic/transcriptional profiles of bacterial/host interactions using cell models and many other approaches. Congratulations, Julie! 

During her time at the PSHL lab, Julie worked as the research coordinator of a PSHL multi-site clinical study entitled “Feelings matter when expecting a baby: the psychoneuroimmunology of pregnancy”. Other tasks within the lab included editorial activities, helping with the coordination of other research projects and participating 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). 

Julie co-authored a few published articles throughout her career path: 
▶Lewis, J. and Lloyd, V.K. Identification ofBorrelia bissettii in Ixodes scapularis ticks from New Brunswick, Canada. (submitted for publication) Canadian Journal of Microbiology. 
▶Lewis, J., Boudreau, C.R., Patterson, J., Bradet-Legris and Lloyd, V.K. (2018) Citizen science and community engagement in tick surveillance – a Canadian case study. Healthcare, 6(1), 22;  
▶Lewis, J. and Azar, R. (2015) Depressive symptoms in men post-miscarriage. Journal of Men’s Health, 11(5): 8-13. Julie also did a few broadcast interviews with Radio Canada and presented her research at numerous conferences, including a conference of Morgellons disease in Austin, Texas, USA.

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! Angela is currently an Administrative professional working at one of Mount Allison University's Departments.

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 was the project coordinator for the CIHR Quick Strike grant. Nina is now employed at McMaster University School of Nursing: Human Resources Department.

Honours Students (2020-2021)

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Jacqueline Brun

Jacqueline is a fourth year Honours Psychology student from Mississauga, Ontario. She is studying how parents' expectations in the care of their children with complex health conditions can be met by NB and PEI professional care providers. She is excited for this opportunity as she feels this is an important topic to research. Her long-term goal is to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology. When she is not busy studying or researching, she loves reading, coaching gymnastics during the summer and spending time with friends and family.

Honours Students (2019-2020)

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Evan Matthews

Evan Matthews is a fifth year Psychology Honours student from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He hopes to study depression and anxiety among parents with children experiencing oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder (this is subject to change based on my decided research topic). Outside of psychology his interests consist of drama, music, soccer, as well as politics and history. His long term plan is to obtain PhD in Counselling psychology. Evan is thrilled to be working on this research opportunity for the 2019/2020 academic year.

Luke Mungall

Luke is a fourth year Psychology Honours student from Ottawa, Ontario. During the summer of 2019, Luke is investigating the impact of interventions that promote resilience in parents of children with complex care needs. He is especially interested in health psychology and the intersection between psychology and philosophy. In his free time, he enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and travelling.

Directed Studies (2019-2020)

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Sarah Doak

Sarah is a fifth year Psychology major from Miramichi, NB. She will be studying the transition from pediatric to adult healthcare services in cancer patients. She is very excited to begin her research as her family has been affected by cancer and she serves as a co-chair on Mount Allison's Relay for Life committee. In addition to her studies, Sarah is involved with Habitat for Humanity, is a member of both the Mounties Field Hockey and Curling teams, and enjoys coaching high school track and field in the summer.

NaviCare/SoinsNavi - Intern

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James French

Summer of 2019
James French is from Moncton, NB, and is going into his third year at Mount Allison University where he is doing a BSc in psychology. He is a representative for NaviCare/SoinNavi where he will primarily be working on doing some outreach for the program in order to spread awareness of their services. He is very excited as he is interested in the field of health psychology and loves to be able to give back to his community. In his spare time, James also plays basketball striking the right balance between work and physical activity.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

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Dr. Kerrie Luck

2018 - Present
Dr. Luck is currently developing her program around the Research on investment of NaviCare/SoinsNavi.

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Dr. Pat Charlton

Dr. Charlton is a Research Associate with the PEI SPOR PIHCIN Network. Prior to her position, she held a CIHR-NBHRF-funded post-doctoral position in health policy working with Drs. William Montelpare (UPEI) Shelley Doucet (UNB Saint John), and Rima Azar (Mount Allison University.

Dr. Allison Luke

Dr. Luke is the Senior Advisor and Research Associate at NaviCare/SoinsNavi. Prior to her position (before 2018-19), she held the Crawford/Jarislowsky Post Doctoral Fellow Position in Health Policy.

Graduate / Medical Students

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Amy Reid

2018-present; MAHSR program (Defending Thesis on May 9th 2019) 
Amy investigates the role of patient navigators in improving care coordination. Dr. Azar is a member of the supervisory and examining committee (MAHSR or Masters of Applied Health Services Research program). 

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Gaurav Sharma

MBA candidate
9-months MBA-applied internship with NaviCare/SoinsNavi and NB-PIHCI Network, conducting a Business Consulting Project 

Chibuike Precious Akaniro

MBA candidate
9-months MBA-applied internship with NaviCare/SoinsNavi and NB-PIHCI Network, conducting a Business Consulting Project 

Margaret Holland

PhD student - Sep, 2018 
Ms. Holland is a data analyst, providing support to NB-PIHCI Network members. Her PhD dissertation will study the impact of NaviCare/SoinsNavi centre with a quantitative focus.

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Jen Splane

MSc (Nursing) - Sept 2018 Ms. Splane, a Registered Nurse, is one of the Patient Navigators of NaviCare/SoinsNavi. Her Masters’ Research will be related to NaviCare/SoinsNavi.

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Aleksandra Naczk-Cameron

PhD student (2015 to 2017) Dr. Azar co-supervised Ms. Naczk-Cameron’s doctoral work on the needs of families caring for a child with complex care needs. 

Kate Thompson 

Kate’s doctoral research focuses on E-Connect NB and the integrated health care delivery services for children with complex care needs and their families. Dr. Azar is an Academic advisor and a member of Kate’s PhD supervisory/examining committee. 

Dr. P. Tryphanopoulos 

Dr. Azar has served on Dr. Tryphanopoulos' Dissertation Committee since 2010 and as a member of her Examining Committee at her PhD successful defense (2015) within the UNB PhD program in Interdisciplinary Studies. Dr. Tryphanopoulos’s PhD dissertation was entitled:Professional Interaction Guidance to improve maternal-infant relationships of depressed mothers: A Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT).

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Amanda Horsman

PhD Candidate (UNB) 
Amanda Horsman is a Medical Librarian at the Centre de Formation Médicale of the Université de Moncton. She is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at UNB, working with Dr. Azar and Doucet. She also offers librarian support to our NB-PIHCI-Network members.

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Julie Lewis

PhD candidate
(Université de Moncton & MTA)  Julie is a consultant at the PSHL lab. She completed an M.Sc in biology at Mount Allison University working with Dr. Vett Lloyd (Assessing the risk of Lyme disease in NewBrunswick).Dr. Azar has served as a member on her M.Sc. Thesis Supervisory Committee and as a member of her Examining Committee at her defense. Julie is currently a PhD candidate in biology at the Université de Moncton and Mount Allison University.

Dr. Valérie Poulin 

After completing a doctorate in clinical psychology (2014) [Psychologie Professionnelle (Clinique)] at Université de Moncton in which Dr.Azar served as Internal Reviewer to Dr. Poulin's dissertation, Dr. Poulin moved to Laval University (Québec). Her PhD dissertation was entitled: "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).

Émilie Faubert 

Emilie Faubert completed a Masters in Psychology at the Université de Moncton (2010). Her thesis was entitled: "Le rôle médiateur de la colère dans la relation entre la dramatisation et l'expérience douloureuse" (The mediating role of anger in the relationship between dramatization and pain experience). Dr. Azar served as the external reviewer of Ms. Faubert's thesis, which was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Doug French.

Research in Medicine students - Dalhousie Medicine (NB) 

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Dr. Kate Stymiest

Psychiatry Resident, Dalhousie University
Dr. Stymiest currently holds a clinical position in Halifax (NS) as medical resident in psychiatry. After completing her Honours thesis at the PSHL lab (her bio appears in the section about students), she successfully completed a 4-year RIM program working with Dr. Doucet and Azar as her research co-supervisors. She is currently putting the final touch on a publication of her NaviCare/SoinsNavi-related work related to the following topic: Key stakeholder perspectives on the care of children with complex healthcare needs in New Brunswick. 

Dr. Rosalinda Knight

Dr. Rosalinda Knight
RIM (Research In Medicine) Trainee
Project title: A longitudinal assessment of the impact of patient navigators on the experiences of families of children with complex health conditions. In addition to co-supervision, Dr. Azar will likely act as a member of the examining committee

MTA - Independent Studies Grant Research (ISGR) Students

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Luke Mungall

Waiting for Update

Past MTA - Independent Studies Grant Research (ISGR) Students

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Izzy Spinney 

Summer of 2018 Izzy Spinney is a fifth year Psychology summer student (2018) from Pointe-du-Chêne, NB / Charlottetown, PEI. Within NaviCare SoinsNavi, she was involved in an environmental scan of peer support resources for children/youth, caregivers and siblings of children with complex care needs in New Brunswick and Canada. In her free time, Izzy works as both the SHARE Intern and Event Services Manager on campus. She also volunteers with the SMILE Program and at the Shepody Healing Centre in the Dorchester Penitentiary. 

Lydia Seddon 

Summer of 2016
Lydia assisted with research-related activities part of the needs assessment phase (120 families and professional stakeholders) that has informed the launching of the NaviCare/SoinsNavi centre, which took place on January 10, 2017. 

Dr. Darren Mercer 

Summer of 2010 Please see Dr. Mercer’s bio (under Honours trainees in 2010-2011).

University of New Brunswick - Honours Students

Jillian Lamb

BSc. Honours in Biology (UNB)
Ms. Lamb’s Honours’ topic is the experience of caregiving to a child with complex care needs in New Brunswick. Dr. Azar is her co-supervisor, along with Drs. Doucet and Dr. Luke

MTA Alumni


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Jocelyn Braun - Honours

Jocelyn Braun is a fourth year Psychology Honours student from Alberta. She is excited to help improve the lives of children with complex care needs in New Brunswick. In her free time, Jocelyn likes to go hiking!

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Ryan Doucet - Directed Studies

Ryan Doucet is a third year Psychology student from Miramichi, New Brunswick. He will be studying depression and anxiety in parents of youth with oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder (as types of behavioural complex health conditions). Ryan is excited for the research and working in partnership with NaviCare/SoinsNavi this upcoming academic year.

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Paula Arndt - Directed Studies

Paula Arndt will be collaborating with the NaviCare/SoinsNavi centre to investigate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for children/youth with complex care needs. She is the director of Mindful Healing, a complementary health care clinic with offices in Amherst, NS and Sackville, NB. She is a Registered Counsellor, Naturopath and Certified Hypnosis Therapist (Trainer) specializing in complementary medical hypnotism and pain. Her training includes infant massage, Reiki, reflexology (Hand and Foot), emotional freedom techniques, quantum touch and massage therapy. She is presently investigating the effectiveness of emotional freedom techniques on issues around PTSD. Her belief in patient-centred therapy provides space for growth and self-knowledge for her clients, yet allows her to work intuitively, and with experience and heart. Research projects include the effects of relaxation techniques and music on sleep, and death and dying experiences of undergraduate students.


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Julie Richard - Honours

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.

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Laurel White - Honours

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.

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Daniel O'Connor - Honours

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.

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Kenzie Schlutz - Directed Studies

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.


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Phill Kim - Honours

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.

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Sarah MacCallum - Honours

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.

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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.


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Nina Hindrichs - Honours

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". 

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Megan Blacquiere - Honours

Megan is 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.


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Alyssa James - Honours

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". 

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Kate Stymiest - Honours

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".


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Mo Santander - Honours

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.

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Robert Calder - Honours

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.


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Sarah Leger - Honours

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?

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Mo Santander - Directed Studies

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

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Adrian Gee - Directed Studies

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.


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Pamela Hudson - Honours

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.

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Sarah Smith - Directed Studies

Project Title: Mindfulness


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Darren Mercer - Honours

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.

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Annie Richard - Honours

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.


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Laura Stephenson - Honours

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

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Sarah Smith - Honours

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