Potential Supervisors

The following is a list of RSI faculty who have funding and are currently looking to recruit students. Please note that this list is constantly changing so be sure to check back for more updates:

Deryk Beal


Dr. Deryk Beal is a Senior Scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and an Associate Professor in Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Toronto. His research focus is on understanding neurodevelopment to inform intervention innovation.

He is currently seeking a PhD student to work on a CIHR funded project testing the feasibility and early efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to promote self-regulation and helpful regulatory approaches for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder. This clinical trial involves exploring the behavioural and neural outcomes of the rTMS treatment program via combined clinical testing and neuroimaging via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The project is best suited to a student with a strong interest in developmental neuroscience, MRI acquisition and analyses, and feasibility testing of randomized control trials.

LOOKING FOR: PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

CONTACT: dbeal@hollandbloorview.ca

Vincy Chan


Dr. Vincy Chan is an Assistant Scientist at the KITE Research Institute at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network and Assistant Professor (status) at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on understanding the health, health service use, and health outcomes of individuals with a traumatic brain injury across the lifespan and continuum of healthcare. Dr. Chan is recruiting a MSc student to participate in a program of research focused on addressing traumatic brain injury in underserved populations.


CONTACT: vincy.chan@uhn.ca

Luc De Nil


Research at the Speech Fluency Lab aims to better understand the nature and potential treatment of developmental and acquired stuttering. Current ongoing and planned research project are focused on the role of motor learning in adults who stutter, the diagnosis and treatment of acquired neurogenic stuttering, and the use of transcranial electrical stimulation as a facilitative tool to support speech fluency treatment.

LOOKING FOR: MSc (with the potential of transferring to the PhD program)

CONTACT: luc.denil@utoronto.ca

Janine Farragher


Chronic kidney disease affects 1 in 9 Canadians, yet it is often overlooked as one of the major chronic diseases impacting our population’s health. My research is focused on understanding how chronic kidney disease and dialysis treatment impact people’s ability to participate in life activities and roles (eg. doing household tasks, socializing, working at a job), and how to minimize their impact. My research investigates person-level and environmental factors contributing to disability, and uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to develop implementable solutions that can improve day-to-day participation for people with chronic kidney disease and other chronic diseases. I would love to work with motivated and dedicated students interested in chronic disease management and related topics.


CONTACT: janine.farragher@utoronto.ca

Sharon Gabison


Dr. Sharon Gabison (she/her) is the Hallisey Affiliate Scientist at the KITE Research Institute at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – University Health Network and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. She is a registered Physical Therapist with a special interest in the prevention and management of wounds. Her interdisciplinary research is focused on supporting individuals and their caregivers living with pressure injuries and complications of immobility through the development and evaluation of tools and technologies. Dr. Gabison has a passion for supporting graduate students towards the development of their research career through mentorship, support and forming collaborative partnerships. For more information about Dr. Gabison’s research, please visit www.woundresearch.ca .

Dr. Gabison is currently seeking four masters students to work on two projects beginning immediately:

  1. The development and evaluation of a smart sock for the prevention and management of lower extremity wounds in individuals living with, or at risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers. This project involves understanding the needs of individuals living with diabetic foot ulcers, the features they desire in a smart sock, and working alongside engineers in translating this knowledge to the development and evaluation of a smart sock. This project is best suited for a masters student with a strong interest in qualitative and quantitative research methods, feasibility testing and working within an interdisciplinary team of engineers and healthcare professionals.
  2. The development and evaluation of a knowledge translation tool for individuals living with pressure injuries and the caregivers who support them. This project is focused on understanding how knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to pressure injuries influence the educational needs of individuals living with pressure injuries, and using this information to guide the development and evaluation of Pressure Injury Management and Education (“PrIME”). This project is best suited for a masters student with a strong interest in qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research, feasibility testing and working within an interdisciplinary team of engineers, computer scientists, healthcare professionals and end users including individuals at risk of developing pressure injuries and the caregivers who support them.


CONTACT: shar.gabison@utoronto.ca

Robin Green


Dr. Robin Green's program of research addresses brain and behavioural mechanisms of recovery from mild (multiple concussions) to severe traumatic brain injury. Her lab focuses on neurodegenerative findings in the chronic stages of patients with moderate-severe traumatic brain injury.  This novel conception of moderate-is needed to identify parallels with other forms of neurodegeneration and to reveal new avenues of treatment. She also focuses on (i) identification of post-injury treatment targets and (ii) development of treatments to offset neurodegeneration. She founded and runs a telerehab centre that integrates clinical care and research for patients in the chronic stages of acquired brain injury, which provides treatment and conducts research in patients across Ontario.


CONTACT: robin.green@uhn.ca

Yani Hamdani


Dr. Yani Hamdani (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto (UofT) and a Scientist at the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada. She is a registered occupational therapist, having worked in children’s rehabilitation for many years, and completed a PhD in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at UofT.

Dr. Hamdani’s research focuses on health experiences, services and policy for people labeled with developmental disabilities (e.g., intellectual disability, autism). She has particular interest in mental health, critical qualitative inquiry and policy analysis. A good fit will be students interested in qualitative research and who are curious about critical social science perspectives as a lens for examining how social beliefs and assumptions about disability shape policies and practices and their implications for the people they aim to help and support.


CONTACT: y.hamdani@utoronto.ca

Emily Ho 


Dr. Emily S. Ho is an Assistant Professor in the Department of OS&OT and a Clinician Investigator in the SickKids Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Her research program currently involves measuring and understanding the psychological and physical determinants of participation in youth with upper limb musculoskeletal disabilities. MSc candidates interested in pediatric upper extremity rehabilitation, youth and family engagement, and mixed methods research including knowledge synthesis, qualitative interviews, and patient-reported outcomes may send their CV and cover letter to Dr. Ho.


CONTACT: emilys.ho@utoronto.ca

Gillian King


Topics related to (1) client engagement, resiliency, and outcomes in pediatric rehabilitation, (2) understanding environmental qualities and client experiences in the context of various intervention approaches, including solution-focused coaching, and (3) promoting the development of service providers’ skills and strategies, including listening and engagement skills.


CONTACT: gking27@uwo.ca

Sally Lindsay


Dr. Sally Lindsay is a Senior Scientist at Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Professor (Status) in Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Toronto. 

She is currently seeking an MSc or PhD student to work on a project exploring the intersection of discrimination, ableism and racism among children and youth with disabilities and their families. This qualitative research involves exploring the diverse lived experiences of youth with disabilities and the intersection of disability, ethnicity, gender and other factors; as well as co-creating solutions to enhance social inclusion and wellbeing of youth with disabilities. 

LOOKING FOR: MSc, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellows

CONTACT: slindsay@hollandbloorview.ca


Crystal MacKay


Dr. Crystal MacKay is a Scientist at West Park Healthcare Centre and has an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto. With training in physical therapy, health services research and implementation science, she uses qualitative and quantitative methods. Her program of research aims to improve health services delivery and health outcomes for people living with chronic health conditions, with a focus on individuals living with limb loss. Her research interests are developing and testing rehabilitation interventions (e.g., physical activity and exercise interventions) and examining patients’ health experiences and health outcomes.


CONTACT: crystal.mackay@westpark.org


Roula Markoulakis


Research at the Family Navigation Project aims to understand system navigation as a mode of support for youth with mental health and/or addiction concerns and their families. This includes exploring experiences of seeking, accessing, and transitioning through mental health and addictions care; identifying the outcomes of navigation supports for youth and families (e.g., on youth symptoms and functioning, family functioning, caregiver strain, health services utilization), particularly through mixed-methods clinical trials; and understanding and optimizing navigation models (e.g., through program evaluation, youth engagement, peer support, navigation standards, etc.)


CONTACT: roula.markoulakis@sunnybrook.ca

Rosemary Martino


The University of Toronto/University Health Network Swallowing Lab is open to applications for Doctoral Student  positions  available  in  Fall  of  2023  under  the  supervision  of  Dr.  Rosemary Martino.  Our  work focuses on understanding swallowing impairment (dysphagia) and reducing its burden for patients, their caregivers and  the community. The  focus of  these positions will be dysphagia in  the adult population, particularly  oropharyngeal  dysphagia,  secondary  to  neurological,  cancer and  cardiovascular etiologies. 

The candidate will have the opportunity to receive advanced training and opportunities with large registry data  sets,  videofluoroscopic  analysis,  both  qualitative  and  quantitative  research methods  and  applied outcomes research in the clinical setting. In addition, they will have extensive opportunity to network and collaborate with clinicians, other scientists and research project stakeholders within the SLP department and the University Health Network.

Required Qualifications: An ideal candidate will be a highly motivated and enthusiastic individual who meets the Admission requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy, Rehabilitation Sciences Program at U of T and has demonstrated advanced research qualifications in speech and language sciences. Candidates with previous research experience in swallowing, swallowing disorders, exposure to grant writing, peer reviewed publications and scientific presentations are preferred but not required. Must work productively both independently and collaboratively with enthusiasm and poise.


CONTACT: trixie.reichardt@uhnresearch.ca


Tatyana Mollayeva


Dr. Mollayeva is a Scientist at the KITE Toronto Rehab-UHN and an Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with cross appointments at the RSI and the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Temetry Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto. She is also a Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute. Her research program is supported by Canada Research Chair in Neurological Disorders and Brain Health.

Dr. Mollayeva’s  research explores sex and gender specific risk factors of neurological disorders and injuries to support primary prevention initiatives, pathophysiological and social hallmarks of neurological disorders and injuries to support secondary prevention and gender-transformative care, and disorders’/injuries’ progression to support rehabilitation and tertiary and quaternary prevention. Questions about equity in brain health are central to Dr. Mollayeva’s research.

LOOKING FOR: MSc, PhD (w/ background in statistics/computer sciences)

CONTACT: tatyana.mollayeva@utoronto.ca

Fiona Moola


Dr. Fiona Moola is a professor and scientist and director of the HEART Lab at Ryerson University, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the University of Toronto. With Dr. Ronald Buliung (Geography and Planning, University of Toronto), Dr. Roberta Woodgate (Nursing, University of Manitoba), Dr. Nancy Hansen (Disability Studies, University of Manitoba), and Dr. Lynne Heller (OCAD University), Dr. Moola is leading a national research program on childhood disability and the arts, funded by SSHRC.

Dr. Moola is looking for a PhD student to undertake QUALITATIVE & ARTS-BASED RESEARCH in the VISUAL ARTS, SOCIOLOGY AND HUMANITIES. Specifically, the desired PhD student will do their thesis on investigating the complex relationship between children and youth with disabilities and the visual arts, in Ontario. The student will be utilizing an arts-based research methodological approach, to generate sociological knowledge by exploring the artistic experiences and artistic creations of children and youth with physical disabilities in Ontario. This will be a funded PhD.


CONTACT: nmoothathamby@hollandbloorview.ca

Sarah Munce


A Doctoral Student position is available starting September 2022 under the co-supervision of Drs. Sarah Munce, Robert Simpson, and Mark Bayley) in the area of Mindfulness and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).   

The student will have the opportunity to receive advanced training and opportunities related to mixed methods research and knowledge translation, including integrated knowledge translation. The ideal candidate will have had previous experience or interest in working on research related to MS/neurological conditions and/or a background in psychology/mindfulness interventions. 

Currently, one year of funding is available to support a PhD student to undertake a project that will produce a toolkit for program developers and peer leaders in the MS population seeking to implement online Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) across Ontario. The project will involve a mixed methods exploratory sequential study design, involving a qualitative descriptive approach followed by an online survey.


CONTACT: sarah.munce@uhn.carobert.simpson@uhn.ca

Emily Nalder


Dr. Emily Nalder is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. Her research aims to enable individuals experiencing changes in their cognitive abilities (e.g., due to injury, illness, aging processes) to do the activities that they need or want to do. Her research explores issues of integration into the community following acquired brain injury. This includes examining resiliency in the context of traumatic brain injury (how individuals adapt to life challenges and periods of transition). Her work is also examining: intervention approaches that enable engagement in activity and the effects on mental health; and how technology can be harnessed in delivering rehabilitation services. Her current funding would support graduate students or post-doctoral fellows seeking to conduct research in the area of resiliency and traumatic brain injury.


CONTACT: emily.nalder@utoronto.ca

Alison Novak


Dr. Alison Novak is a Scientist at KITE Research Institute-University Health Network and Assistant Professor in Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Toronto. Her research works to expand on knowledge of factors contributing to fall risk for older adults, mechanisms of balance recovery, and how to design our built environment to support safe and equitable access for people as they age with and without disabilities. Data is collected in the state-of-the-art CEAL facilities at the KITE Research Institute or within the community. We disseminate our research findings to develop clinical education tools and inform built environment standards or policies across Canada. 

Dr. Novak is currently seeking Masters and/or PhD students to work on several fully funded projects in the area of accessibility, ergonomics, fall prevention and the built environment. For more information about the lab, visit: https://kite-uhn.com/labs

Project 1: The “Bathroom Friction” Project: Creating the Evidence Base for Products, Policies, and Practices to Prevent Slips in Bathrooms

Using state-of-the-art motion capture tools, this project will collect data to determine biomechanical mechanisms related to bathroom falls, the minimum surface friction requirements for challenging bathing tasks, and the effect of surface friction interventions on biomechanical demands of movement and slip risk during bathing-related tasks. This project is well suited to a student with a strong interest in biomechanical analysis of human movement, fall prevention or ergonomics.

Project 2: The “Anthropometrics Project”: Redefining Space Requirements in the Built Environment for Accessibility

Consideration of functional (i.e. reaching capacities, maneuvering spaces) and static (i.e. clear floor space) anthropometric measurements for people with disabilities is important when designing accessible public spaces. Space requirements may differ for people who use different wheeled mobility devices (such as manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs, scooters) or people who use other types of assistance or aids to safely navigate their environment. This project will collect data defining the physical space required to carry out activities of daily living, from people with disabilities that use various assistive devices. We also aim to understand the functional impact of physical barriers within the built environment on daily activity for people with disabilities. We aim to develop a design resource for policy makers, builders, architects, etc. to help inform policy and practice. This project is well suited to a student with a strong interest in public health, accessibility policy, and ergonomics.


CONTACT: alison.novak@uhn.ca

Behdin Nowrouzi-Kia


Dr. Behdin Nowrouzi-Kia is an occupational therapist and assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, where he holds the inaugural Emily Geldsaler Grant Early Career Professorship in Workplace Mental Health. Through an occupational lens, Dr. Behdin Nowrouzi-Kia’s research program is a systematic study of occupations in the areas of work disability prevention, return to work, and disability management. This approach is designed to produce results directly applicable to identify and assess risk and to develop interventions for preventing or improving high-risk behaviours in the workplace.

Dr. Nowrouzi-Kia’s work is motivated by efforts in the field of work disability prevention that extends beyond the efforts to prevent or cure diseases from a purely physical perspective, towards more holistic approaches. The major tenets of his work use a biopsychosocial perspective to understand work disability and extend towards incorporating personal characteristics (e.g., psychosocial) and environmental (e.g., healthcare system, workplace, workers’ compensation system) factors in improving health outcomes (e.g., mental, and physical health).


CONTACT: behdin.nowrouzi.kia@utoronto.ca


Kelly O’Brien


Dr. Kelly O’Brien’s research is focused on episodic disability and rehabilitation in the context of HIV and chronic disease. Her Episodic Disability and Rehabilitation Research Program includes profiling the episodic nature of among adults aging with HIV over time (Episodic Disability Framework), examining effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions (physical activity and exercise interventions) on health and disability outcomes among adults living with HIV (Community-Based Exercise Study), and developing and assessing the properties of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) of disability (HIV Disability Questionnaire (HDQ).


CONTACT: kelly.obrien@utoronto.ca

Timothy Ross


Dr. Ross is a Scientist at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. He is also a Registered Professional Planner and an Assistant Professor (status) with the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Ross’ research explores how children with disabilities and their families experience and view their community spaces (e.g., schools, playgrounds, hospitals, transportation environments). This research is oriented toward planning and designing more accessible and inclusive communities that account for the presence and diversity of childhood disability. His research program currently looks at four key topics: (1) education access, (2) transportation and mobility, (3) inclusive play, and (4) addressing institutional ableism. Questions about ableism and its normalcy within the planning and design of our built environments, services, and systems are central to Dr. Ross’ research.


CONTACT: tross@hollandbloorview.ca

Nancy Salbach


The goal of research in my Knowledge-to-Action Lab is to optimize the mobility, exercise participation, and health of older adults with balance and mobility limitations resulting from the effects of stroke and other chronic health conditions.

We have two randomized controlled trials in which a graduate student can become involved. One is the Getting Older Adults Outdoors (GO-OUT) Study that aims to evaluate a group, park-based walking program (see trial protocol here). Data collection is complete. We registered 190 older adults in this trial and have data on an extensive set of measures of physical capacity and health. The second trial is the TIME (Together in Movement and Exercise) at Home study. We are preparing to launch this trial to evaluate a virtual exercise program involving a pre-recorded video of balance and mobility exercises, hosted by a live facilitator, adapted to be done safely at home, in people with balance and mobility limitations.


CONTACT: nancy.salbach@utoronto.ca

Tijana Simic


My current research interest lies in understanding the behavioural and neurological predictors of recovery in individuals with language deficits due to acquired neurological damage (e.g., post-stroke aphasia). Despite the overall efficacy of language intervention for these populations, recovery patterns can vary substantially: individuals with similar impairment profiles at baseline can show different patterns of recovery even after receiving the same treatment.

One of my long-term research goals is to develop a “theory of therapy” which can address this knowledge gap through detailed investigations of the active elements of language therapy. My research to date has focused on how principles of learning and neuroplasticity may be harnessed to improve treatment outcomes, as well as the role of executive control (EC) in language processing. The goal of this line of work is to develop clinical decision-making trees, which would allow for individualized treatment protocols that would enable persons with communication disorders to achieve their maximum potential for language recovery.


CONTACT: tina.simic@utoronto.ca

Hardeep Singh


Although South Asian, Chinese and Black communities are among Canada’s most common ethnic groups, little is known about their poststroke experiences and needs. We are looking for a MSc or PhD student who is interested in working on a qualitative study that seeks to identify the poststroke experiences and needs of people impacted by stroke (i.e. people living with stroke and caregivers) from South Asian, Chinese, and Black communities using the photovoice research method.


CONTACT: hardeepk.singh@utoronto.ca

Karla Washington


The Pediatric Language, Learning, and Speech (PedLLS) Lab interests focus on speech-language development for monolingual and multilingual preschoolers. Specifically, our research seeks to characterize language learning and use in typical and disordered contexts with a particular interest in understanding how children’s contextual factors (i.e., Environmental and Personal, as defined by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health framework) are related to their outcomes. Along with colleagues in communication disorders, linguistics, education, physics, and engineering, the PedLLS Lab applies different methodologies (e.g., acoustic duration, fMRI) to document learning and impairment in different linguistic contexts.

To characterize child language development and disorder the Lab applies intervention designs as part of a Randomized Controlled Trial as well as cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. In some current efforts, we focus on multilingualism to document Jamaican Creole and English-speaking preschoolers’ speech and language use, including functional communication and token-to-token variability. Our current focus on monolingualism documents language use in English-speaking preschoolers with and without developmental language disorder.


CONTACT: karla.washington@utoronto.ca

Lisa Wickerson


Dr. Lisa Wickerson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and an Affiliate Scientist at the University Health Network (Toronto General Hospital Research Institute). Her research focuses on the development and evaluation of hybrid rehabilitation interventions for complex patient populations across the continuum of rehabilitation care  and the role and implementation of digital tools and technologies for remote patient monitoring and management. Key populations include chronic lung disease and solid organ transplantation.


CONTACT: lisa.wickerson@utoronto.ca 

José Zariffa


Cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) can result in paralysis below the neck, and severely impact independence. After these injuries, arm and hand function are reported as the top priority for recovery. In order to develop new therapies, accurate measures of hand function are needed. Current assessments take place in the clinic and do not always reflect how the hands are used in the home or community. Our laboratory at the KITE Research Institute - University Health Network and University of Toronto has previously introduced the use of wearable cameras (egocentric video) as a means to understand hand use at home after SCI.

We are seeking a PhD student to work with groups of clinicians, researchers, and individuals with SCI in defining measures of hand function quality based on home-based egocentric video. The ideal candidate should have expertise in clinical assessment and enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research. Interest and/or experience in qualitative research methods would be an asset.


CONTACT: jose.zariffa@utoronto.ca