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Director, Dr. Jennifer Laffier

Dr. Jennifer Laffier is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Ontario Tech University and a licensed Creative Arts Therapist and Psychotherapist with over 29 years experience in the mental health field. As a licensed practitioner working with children, youth, post-secondary students, adults, and older adults, she specializes in Digital Wellness, Trauma therapy, Play Based therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Eco-Therapy (nature), and authentic happiness (flourishing). She researches and teaches in the areas of human development and mental health in the digital age. Her research topics include wellness during times of crisis, digital wellness, digital-self intelligence, emotional intelligence, life-long learning, agism, bullying, digital drama, social media and mental health, healthy gaming behaviors, psycho-education, and creativity, arts, play, and nature related to wellness. She
presents nationally and internationally at conferences, community events and in schools and work environments on these various topics.

Visit her website at:
Visit her website at:


Research Team 

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Aalyia Rehman

MHDA Lab Manager, Research Assistant, Doctoral Student


Aalyia graduated from the Life Science program at the University of Toronto in 2018, where she had majored in Psychology and Health Studies. She completed her Masters of Arts in Education, under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Laffier and Dr. Janette Hughes, and the Bachelor in Education program in 2021. She is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Education program at Ontario Tech University. Her research interests include child and youth mental health, identity development, digital technologies, art-making, and on-and-offline risk-and-resilience processes. 


Madison Westley

MHDA Lab Media Developer


Madison is a graduate student in the Masters of Arts in Education program at Ontario Tech. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Trent University, a Bachelor of Education from Queen's University, and an eLearning Developer certificate from Durham College. Madison works as a Student Success Coordinator at Durham College and is passionate about child and youth mental health, digital media, popular culture and student engagement, digital technologies, and accessibility in online learning​


Mark Sayers

Doctoral Student 

Mark Sayers is a Full-status and Treaty Ojibway Anishinaabe nini who grew up in his home community, the Garden River First Nation, near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.  Mark is an enrolled student in the Doctor of Education Ed.D program at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ontario.  In addition to his Master of Education degree from Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ontario, Mark also earned a Bachelor of Education in Aboriginal Adult Education from Brock University in St. Catharines, a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and a Diploma in Anishinaabemowin Language Immersion from Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

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Shannon Shackles

Graduate Student 

Shannon is a high school chemistry and biology teacher in Brockville, Ontario. She graduated from the Bachelor of Science program at Carleton University in 2016, where she studied Biology and Psychology. Shannon completed her Bachelor of Education at Ontario Tech University in 2018 and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Education program at Ontario Tech University. Her research interests include adolescent mental health, digital technologies, and virtual reality as therapeutic treatment.


Michelle Reiterer

Graduate Student

Michelle is a student in Ontario Tech’s Master of Arts, Education program.  She is also a Board Certified assistant Behaviour Analyst (BCaBA) and has over a decade of experience implementing, creating and overseeing Applied Behaviour Analytic (ABA) programming for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other exceptionalities.  Michelle is passionate about mental health, education, equity and social justice for individuals living with exceptional circumstances. 

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Alexandra Feder

Graduate Student

Alexandra is a graduate student in Ontario Tech’s Master of Education program. She is currently working as an OCT-certified elementary school teacher at YRDSB, with intermediate and senior additional qualifications. She is passionate about mental health, trauma outcomes within K-12 students, and exploring school as a context of human development.

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Lauren Luchka

Graduate Student

Lauren is an early years teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a graduate student in education at Ontario Tech University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from the University of Winnipeg. Lauren has over a decade of experience teaching students from kindergarten through grade four, and is a certified Reading Recovery Teacher. She has a deep interest in mental health and well-being, bullying, literacy, digital technology, popular culture and student engagement.


Heidi Allum

Graduate Student


M.A. Graduate Students, Faculty of Education

Mental Health in the Digital Age Graduate Course


Dr. Robin Kay

Professor, Faculty of Education


Dr. Diana Petrarca

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education


Dr. Janette Hughes

 Professor, Faculty of Education

Canada Research Chair Technology and Pedagogy

Director, STEAM 3D Maker Lab


Heather Bickle

Sessional Instructor, Faculty of Education

Mental Health Counsellor, Ontario Tech University

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Dr. Barb Perry

Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

Director, Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism  

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Dr. Mary Morrison

Registered Psychologist, Dr. Mary Moprrison & Assocaites

Retired, Durham District School Board


Afsaneh Shafai

Registered Creative Arts Therapist

Frontenac Youth Services, Oshawa, ON.

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