Research Assistants

Shira Barth

Shira is a fourth year undergraduate student in the Health Sciences program. She hopes to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy working with pediatric patients. In her free time she enjoys playing piano, running and reading.


Research interests: Human physiology, sensory processing disorders and traumatic brain injuries.

Zara Belanger-Pepper

Zara is a first-year student in the Psychology & Neuroscience Program, and hopes to obtain a minor in Biology. After receiving her BSc, she hopes to attend medical school to pursue a career as a Neurosurgeon or Paediatric Psychiatrist. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going on walks, and spending time with friends.


Research interests: Mental health research, sensory neuroscience, human anatomy, traumatic brain injuries.

Claire Christoff

Claire is very excited to be joining the cognizant lab, with hopes to expand her current skills and knowledge in the audio perceptive field. Currently working as an RA at SickKids (PI Louise Gallagher), Claire has experience researching stigmas and eye tracking. She loves working with kids, sipping coffee and discussing the intricacies of the mind.


Research interests: Saccadic movement of eye, stigma affecting ASD community, audio/visual perceptive task, cognitive neuroscience.

Samantha Covens

Samantha is currently in her third year working towards a degree in Psychology and Neuroscience with a minor in Biology. In the future she hopes to attain a master’s and Ph.D in clinical psychology with the hopes of working with children and adolescents. In my free time she enjoys spending time with friends, cooking, and travelling.


Research interests: The impacts of family dynamics and childhood home environments on child and adolescent development, methods used by children to cope with stressful environments, development.

Hannah DeBruyn

Hannah is going into her 4th year of the Psychology BSc program and is also completing a minor in biology. She hopes to pursue a career in clinical psychology and specialize in working with people with autism, adhd, and anxiety. Hannah enjoys reading and spending time outdoors as a way to relax and pass time.


Research interests: Sensory processing in people with autism and adhd, mental illness and addiction, comorbidity of mental health disorders.

Natalia Van Esch

Natalia works as a research and administrative assistant, and her major project of conducting research on autism stigma and social skills. Growing up, Natalia was always fascinated with psychology, and decided to pursue it in university, where she found interest in cognitive neuroscience, neurodevelopmental disorders, and perception. Natalia is working towards her BSc in Psychology and Neuroscience with a minor in Biology. In the future, she hopes to pursue graduate studies in Cognitive Neuroscience.


Research interests: Autism stigma, emotional regulation and perception, sensory processing disorders, auditory and visual processing systems, neuronal pathways for cognition, climate change and mental health, comorbidity of mental health issues and neurodevelopmental disorders, the mind-body problem.

Bella Gingerich

I am currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with the hopes of pursuing graduate studies to become a speech-language pathologist. In the future, I would like to specialize in pediatric speech pathology and work in a setting with children. In my free time, I like to see, do spin classes, and play the violin.


Research interests: language processing in kids with autism, social factors and effects of having speech impairment, and music in therapeutic settings.

Adrianna Molenaar

I am currently in my third year of the Honours BA Psychology: Research Specialist program with a minor in North American Studies. After my undergrad, I hope to pursue graduate studies in cognitive neuroscience or developmental psychology. Outside of school, I enjoy working as an inclusion facilitator, reading, and hiking.


Research interests: Sensory processing, Autism, ADHD, child and youth development, autism stigma in educational and recreational settings, how children perceptive cognitive differences.

Angie Redford

Angeline is a fourth year student completing a BSc in Psychology and Neuroscience with minors in Biology and Education. In the future Angeline would like to continue her research and pursue further studies in the field of Neuroradiology, as she has a passion for puzzles, helping people and research. It was a concussion that brought her to the world of Neuroscience, as she wanted to understand the nuances of the brain after her traumatic brain injury.


Research interests: Neurodevelopment, autism, ADHD, traumatic brain injuries, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and neural imaging.

Carter Smith

Carter is an undergraduate research assistant in the Cognisant Lab. He is entering his third year of the Honours BA Psychology: Research Specialist program. He plans on pursuing graduate school in cognitive or behavioral neuroscience, where he can work toward a career studying the developing human brain. Outside of the lab, Carter enjoys reading, running, cycling, and watching baseball.


Research interests: prenatal neural development, animal cognition, social learning, synaptic pruning, effects of drug use on brain development, sensory processing in individuals with autism.

Ashleigh Wickie

I am a third-year undergraduate student working towards a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology. In the future, I would like to pursue graduate studies in occupational therapy and, one day, specialize in pediatric occupational therapy. I enjoy being outside, going to the gym and drawing.


Research interests: child and youth development, Autism-spectrum disorder, sensory processing, emotional regulation, fine motor skills, feeding challenges, and social skills.