Our Team

The Developmental Psychobiology Lab is a multi-disciplinary team of students and researchers operating out of the Owerko Centre at the Child Development Centre.


Trainees

Elnaz Vaghef Mehrabani

Elnaz Vaghef Mehrabani

Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences
Project Title: Stress and nutrition interaction during development
T. 403.441.8470
elnaz.vaghefmehraban@ucalgary.ca

Elnaz completed all her degrees at the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Tabriz, Iran. Her research studies the association between maternal nutrition during pregnancy and children's health outcomes. Her new project seeks to investigate the role of gut microbiota within this association.

Marcel Photo

Marcel van de Wouw

Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. in Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork
Project Title: Role of gut microbiota in neurodevelopment and mental health
T. 403.441.8472
marcel.vandewouw@ucalgary.ca

Marcel, originally from the Netherlands, did his PhD at University College Cork in Ireland at the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and APC Microbiome Ireland. He focused on investigating the therapeutic potential of modulating the microbiota-gut-brain axis in stress- and neurodevelopmental disorders. After this, he stayed for a 1-year postdoctoral position researching whether a specific probiotic formulation can reduce obesity symptomatology in healthy overweight/obese adults.

Yanan Wang

Yanan Wang

Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. in Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba
Project Title: TBD
yanan.wang@ucalgary.ca

Yanan, originally from China, obtained her PhD degree in Human Nutritional Sciences from the University of Manitoba. Yanan had her previous postdoctoral training with the Microbiome Team at the South Australian Medical and Research Institute in Australia, before joining the Developmental Psychobiology Laboratory. Yanan's background is the impact of dietary fibre on the gut microbiota composition and host health. Her current research interests lie in the food-mood connection and whether gut microbiota plays roles in the food and mood relationship. 

Laura Photo

Laura Rojas

Master's Student 
HBSc in Biology and Psychology, University of Toronto
Project Title: The role of gastrointestinal microbiota as a mediator between mode of delivery and cognitive outcomes in children
laura.rojas@ucalgary.ca

Laura received her HBSc with high distinction at the University of Toronto in 2019. She double majored in Biology for Health Science and Psychology. She will be completing a thesis-based master’s degree in Medical Science under the supervision of Dr. Giesbrecht (2020-2022). She is interested in investigating the effects of gastrointestinal microbiota on stress and its ultimate implications on neurocognitive outcomes and mental health.

Danielle Photo

Danielle Cattani

Master's Student
BSc Honours in Neuroscience, University of Alberta
Project Title: Prenatal stress effects amygdala volume and anxiety levels in preschool aged children: A moderation effect by the postnatal home environment
danielle.cattani@ucalgary.ca

Danielle Cattani graduated with a BSc Honours in Neuroscience from the University of Alberta. She is continuing her academic journey under the supervision of Dr. Giesbrecht as a summer student and Master's student starting Fall 2020. Her past research endeavors have ranged from neurodevelopmental disorders and artificial intelligence to rehabilitation medicine. Currently, her interests include how changes in the gut microbiome affect mental health outcomes in paediatric populations, and how differences in nutrition during pregnancy affects cognitive and mental health outcomes in children.

Undergraduate Students

Jessica Park

Jessica Park

Honours Student & Research Assistant
B.Sc. in Psychology, University of Calgary (expected graduation 2021)
Project Title: Buffer Effect of Social Support on Prenatal Anxiety and Preterm Birth during the COVID-19 Pandemic
seyeon.park@ucalgary.ca

Jessica was born in South Korea and moved to Calgary at a young age. She will be completing her 2020-2021 honours project under the supervision of Dr.Giesbrecht. Her current research interest lies in the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on pregnant mothers’ stress levels, and how these changes may affect birth outcomes of their children. She has also joined the team as a research assistant to support ongoing projects in the lab.

Marina Ferreira

Marina Ferreira

Honours Student
B.Sc. in Neuroscience (Honours), University of Calgary (expected graduation 2021/2022)
Project Title: The Effects of Antenatal Maternal Cortisol and Depression on Child Neurodevelopment
marina.ferreira1@ucalgary.ca

Marina was born and raised in Calgary and is in her fourth year of neuroscience at the University of Calgary. Her research interest is in understanding the connection between the brain and behaviour, particularly in the context of neurodevelopment and mental health.

Amnish Brar

Stuti Patel


Research Staff

Melinda van Sloten

Melinda van Sloten

Research Coordinator
T. 403.441.8470
mmzwart@ucalgary.ca

Melinda graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary with a B.A. in Psychology. She originally joined the DevPsychLab as a research assistant in 2012. After several years away, she rejoined the lab in 2020. Her primary interests are in child and youth mental health, developmental assessment, and school-based mental health. 

Angélica Boucher

Angélica Boucher

Research Assistant
angelica.boucher@ucalgary.ca

B.A. Psychology (Honours), St. Mary's University (expected graduation 2021)

Angélica was born in Québec but moved to Calgary when she was a toddler. She is currently in her fifth year of psychology at St. Mary's University. Her research interests include the psychological impact of equine sports and equine therapy, neuropsychology, cognitive rehabilitation, and the impact of COVID-19 on mental health.

Emily Photo

Emily Hall

Research Assistant
emily.hall1@ucalgary.ca

Emily graduated from the University of Calgary with a BSc in Biological Sciences. Her research interests have included insect biodiversity, the factors associated with adolescent vaping behaviour and addiction, and adolescent vaping cessation strategies. Currently, she has joined the team to assist in researching the impact of COVID-19 and the pandemic on child development.

Volunteers

Valentina Almanza

Greis Beharaj

Tashia Christie

Travis Cox

Jordan Keough

Veronica Rasheva

Raj Sidhu

Emily Ward

Fatima Zafar