SC-CE Representatives

Meet your SC-CE Representatives



Mariko Sakamoto


University of British Columbia
PhD Student – School of Nursing
Joined: April 2017



I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UBC in 1998. I have spent most of my nursing career as a community health nurse, often working with older adults with chronic health care needs. I completed my Master of Nursing from Athabasca University in 2015. As part of my PhD work, I intend to study the experience of older people with dementia who have been designated Alternate Level of Care (ALC) and are waiting in hospital for a residential care bed, with the goal of improving care for this vulnerable group of hospitalized patients.
I am also married and a mom of two busy school-aged kids.

Jamie Knight


Representative at the University of Victoria
MSc in Psychology
Joined: January 2017



Jamie Knight is a research assistant at the Integrative Lifespan Lab and a student affiliate of the Institute on Aging & Lifelong Health. She is currently completing a Master of Science in Psychology at the University of Victoria. Her thesis is on the relationship between olfactory decline and cognitive decline in neurodegenerative disease. Her PhD research will focus on risk factors for cognitive decline, concentrating on potential biomarkers for detecting Alzheimer’s disease.

Jamie is looking forward to representing the CAG as a Student Representative for the 2017-2018 term. Her main goals in this role are to create a community of passionate, engaged researchers and community members, promote the study of aging, and to increase networking opportunities for gerontological researchers.



Megan Ferguson


Representative at the University of Calgary
MSW in School of Social Work
Joined: January 2017



Megan Ferguson is a Master’s student in the School of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Megan holds a BSW as well with a Specialization in Aging. She also sits on the Board of Directors for A & O: Support Services for Older Adults. Megan also has 12 years of experience (both volunteer and work) working with older adults in assisted living facilities, personal care homes, hospital settings and community settings. She currently works as a Social Worker for the Acquired Brain Rehabilitation Program and Stroke Rehabilitation Program at a hospital in Winnipeg. Megan is looking forward to her Student Rep role, as it is a considerable opportunity to broaden her network, skills and education in the field of gerontology.

Saima Rajabali


Representative at the University of Alberta
PhD student in the Department of Medicine
Joined: March 2017



Saima Rajabali is a PhD student in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. She studied medicine at Baqai Medical University, Pakistan and got the degree of MBBS with distinction. She then went on to do her MSc. in Medical Sciences from the University of Alberta and has subsequently gained certification as a Clinical Research Professional. Her interest in Aging was sparked while working as a Clinical Trials Project Coordinator in the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on the impact of peer education and support on healthy aging behaviours in community dwelling seniors and the identification of priorities with regards to the health education needs of seniors. She currently volunteers as a Senior Service Ambassador with Drive Happiness, a transportation service for seniors with reduced mobility. As a CAG student representative, she intends to facilitate opportunities to network and exchange ideas amongst students interested in aging research at University of Alberta and across Canada. She also aims to bring researchers, community organizations and seniors to engage in a dialogue about the current state of aging research in Canada and areas for future research.



Lindsay (Huska) Berard


Representative at the University of Manitoba
MSc in Clinical Psychology
Joined: June 2016



Lindsay (Huska) Berard is a Master’s student at the University of Manitoba in the Clinical Psychology program. She holds a B.A. and B.A. (Hons.), both from the University of Manitoba. Her research interests involve mental health changes in the lifespan; how and when individuals seek help for their mental health concerns; and the relationship between physical health and mental health. Dedicated to supporting others, Lindsay is involved in many department, university, and community based committees and organizations, including roles as a caregiver support group facilitator with the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba, and as a wish grantor for Make-A-Wish Canada. A student member of The University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging, and now a representative of CAG, Lindsay is excited to connect students interested in gerontology together, not only across disciplines, but across Manitoban and Canadian universities as well!



Nicole Dalmer

Co-Representative at University of Western Ontario
PhD in Library and Information Sciences
Joined: February 2013

Nicole Dalmer is a PhD Candidate in Library and Information Sciences at The University of Western Ontario. Her undergraduate in psychological sciences at the University of Alberta introduced her to the intricacies of neurodegenerative disorders and initiated her interest in aging and older adults. Working as a research assistant at the Alberta Centre on Aging served to enhance her understanding of issues facing our aging population and highlighted the importance of supporting family and friend caregivers of older adults. Her Masters in Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta focused on the health information needs of family and friend caregivers of older adults with dementia, in recognition of the many sources of information, both online and offline, caregivers may turn to throughout the caregiving trajectory. Nicole continues this line of research in her doctoral research, examining the social construction of information work as gendered work amongst informal caregivers, aiming to draw attention to the labour involved in seeking, sharing and understanding information used in caregiving.

Munira Sultana

Co-Representative at University of Western Ontario
Joined: March 2017


I am an international medical graduate from Bangladesh. I had my Masters from Sydney University, Australia in Public Health. I worked with non-profit organization funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation promoting safe motherhood for five years in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Kenya. I moved in Canada seven years ago, and worked as a Personal Support Worker for older adults. Then I worked in the capacity of a research associate at London Health Sciences Centre in Parkinson’s Disease research for 3 years. Working with the patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and the elderly inspired me to learn of and contribute to healthy aging. I am now in my third-year PhD at Western University. I had the opportunity to become a student member of Canadian Association on Gerontology(CAG) in 2014 and present my research at 43rd and 45th annual scientific and educational meeting. The exploration of possibilities and exposure to critical issues presented in these meetings inspired me to engage more into the aging world and be an active part of this world. Therefore, I would like to be a student representative of CAG Student Connect and become a cog in the wheel of change for a better world.

Nandini Nandeesha

Representative at McMaster University
Accelerated Nursing Program
Joined: June 2016


My name is Nandini Nandeesha and I am in the Accelerated Nursing Program at McMaster. My interest in aging and aging research began after volunteering at a local retirement home and engaging with seniors who had long-term disabilities or chronic illnesses. I strongly believe that health care should be investing more in geriatric care and research. Currently, I am a research assistant for the School of Nursing at McMaster and am involved in a project that focuses on seniors with dementia. I am also a recipient of the Ontario Volunteer Service Award from the Ministry of Ontario. Through volunteering and research activities working with the geriatric population, I hope to better understand their needs. As a student representative for the CAG, I hope to be able to showcase some of the research in aging that McMaster has undertaken and also meet other professionals throughout the country that are involved in geriatric care and research.

Rachel Weldrick

Representative at McMaster University
PhD Candidate in Social Gerontology
Joined: March 2017


Rachel Weldrick is a PhD Candidate in Social Gerontology at McMaster University. Her PhD work focuses on social isolation among older people living in urban regions. Rachel also holds an MA in Health & Aging (McMaster), and a BSc in Psychology (Acadia University). Currently, Rachel is a research assistant at the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging where she works on the Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan (HSIIP). In addition, she is the Academic Coordinator for the Gilbrea Student Group, and co-hosts a monthly journal club on aging-related topics.

Emma Grigor

Co-Representative at the University of Ottawa
B.Sc student in Biochemistry
Joined: April 2015

As Representative for the Canadian Association in Gerontology at the University of Ottawa, Emma is focused on increasing awareness of opportunity within the field of gerontological research within the various health-related disciplines. She is currently completing her final year in Biomedical Sciences, having completed a degree in Biochemistry, and plans to pursue a Masters in Epidemiology starting in May 2016. Currently, Emma is working towards implementing a pilot project in healthy ageing research at The Ottawa Hospital in order to improve the quality of primary care for patients and provide educational and hands-on learning opportunities for students interested in gerontological research, social work, or any other related studies in the field. She will be using her current and past leadership experience working alongside the volunteers in primary patient care at The Ottawa Hospital in order to pilot this project. Emma strongly feels that this type of program would serve as a benefit to older patients as well as provide invaluable experience and skills to students. Furthermore, Emma is enthusiastic to collaborate with fellow Representatives at Carleton University to facilitate collaborative events related to health care and aging related to gerontology.

Laura Thompson

Co-Representative at University of Ottawa
PhD in Experimental Psychology
Joined: April 2015

Laura is a PhD student in Experimental Psychology at University of Ottawa. Her dissertation research examines language function and dementia. She previously completed her M.A. in Psychology at Carleton University, where she studied the benefits of singing on well-being in an older adult population. She also completed her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Ottawa. She is excited to be a CAG representative in order to provide an opportunity for other students with an interest in aging to connect and share ideas.

Avery Ohman

Co-Representative at University of Ottawa
BHsc in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences
Joined: April 2017

Avery Ohman is a third-year student in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, minoring in Gerontology. She worked for two years in a retirement home and has two grandparents with dementia, which fueled her passion for research and working with older adults. She is eager to pursue a career in this field and is looking forward to meeting other students with similar interests in geriatrics.

Sarah Wu

Representative at the University of Waterloo
PhD Student in Aging, Health and Well-being; Department of Kinesiology
Joined: May 2016


Sarah Wu is a PhD student in the Aging, Health and Well-being interdisciplinary program (Department of Kinesiology) at the University of Waterloo (UW). She completed her BA and BHS (Hons) at York University and her MA in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University that explored person-centered care delivery at mealtimes for residents living with dementia in specialized care units. Sarah’s doctoral work involves examining factors associated with eating assistance and malnutrition in long-term care settings to inform the development of complex interventions. As a representative of CAG, she hopes to support and promote the diverse community of aging researchers at UW through on-going dialogue and engagement initiatives.

Olivia Pochopsky

Co-Representative at Carleton University
M.Sc. Candidate Neuroscience
Joined: January 2017

My name is Olivia Pochopsky, and I am pursuing a master’s in neuroscience at Carleton University. I have been either working, volunteering, or academically focused on older adults since I started volunteering in a retirement residence at the age of 14. It was at University of Ottawa that I acquired my two degrees, the first being an honours bachelor degree with a major in biochemistry and a minor in gerontology, and the second being a bachelor of social sciences with a minor in psychology. Currently, I am studying for a master’s in neuroscience at Carleton University, and my project focuses on the role that social connectedness may play in the mental health of older adults, and how biological factors may influence these relationships.

Angela Paric

Co-Representative at Carleton University
PhD Student in Neuroscience
Joined: January 2017


I am PhD student in Neuroscience at Carleton University. My research aims to identify the biological and psychological effects of social participation, particularly in artistic groups, on aging and is conducted in clinical and community settings. I previously completed a masters in neuroscience at Carleton University and an honours bachelor degree at Western University with a double major in physiology and biology.

Vivian Huang

Representative Ryerson University
MA in the Department of Psychology
Joined: April 2015

Vivian Huang is a MA candidate at Ryerson University in the Department of Psychology. She completed her B.Sc (Hons) at University of Calgary. She is examining the relationship between stress and changes in our overall well-being as we age. Her master thesis examines the relationship of chronic biological stress, emotion regulation, and depression in older adults. She is also hoping to conduct research examining the relationship between stress, sleep, and mood in older adults. Vivian is looking forward to connect with students and faculty members who are interested in working with the geriatric population and aging-related research across the Ryerson campus.

Sara Ghandeharian

Representative at York University
MSc student in Health Sciences
Joined: September 2015

Sara is an MSc student in Health Sciences and will be continuing her studies at York for her PhD in September 2016. Her interest in aging and gerontology began while completing her honours degree in the Department of Psychology at Acadia University. During this time she volunteered and worked with older adults on a regular basis in various community and institutional settings, in addition to completing her honours thesis into self-perceptions of aging and successful aging. Currently Sara is a graduate trainee in the University Health Network, Cancer Pain Research Unit. She is part of a research program into the assessment of pain in older cancer patients with delirium at end-of-life. Specifically, Sara’s research focus is to better understand the role that HCW factors (i.e. empathy, clinical experience, beliefs about pain and aging) play in pain assessment. Sara was awarded the Ontario Graduate Scholarship for her Masters. Upon completion of her PhD Sara will have developed and validated a scale to measure HCW beliefs about pain, aging, and delirium. Sara’s other interests include mixed quantitative-qualitative research methods, health psychology, palliative or supportive care, and psyco-social adjustment to chronic conditions. At York U, Sara is also the Vice President of the Graduate Research Association of Students in Public Health. As a CAG representative, Sara looks forward to connecting with other student and faculty members who are interested in aging research and education. She is also a strong advocate for using a multidisciplinary approach in gerontology and aging studies.

Theresa Rost

Representative at Huntington University (Laurentian University)
BSc student in Gerontology
Joined: September 2016


Theresa, or Tree, was born and raised in Northern Ontario. As a young mother, she put her career aspirations on hold while raising her children, preferring to work part-time as well as volunteer much of her time to the organisations in which her children participated. When her youngest was in his last year of university, Tree decided it was her turn to pursue higher education and get her own career on track. She is currently enrolled in the Gerontology Program at Huntington University as a part-time student and would like to become a professional researcher and educator. True to her nature, Tree now volunteers her time and talents to her campus community. She is treasurer and vice-president (interim) of the Laurentian Association of Mature and Part-time Students (LAMPS) and treasurer for the Huntington University Gerontology Society (HUGS).

When she isn’t studying or working, Tree and her husband, Otto, enjoy spending time together at their cottage on Manitoulin Island where they garden, study nature, and keep bees. They treasure events that bring them together with family – especially their five adult children and six grandchildren.



Olivia Feschuk

Representative at Mount Allison University
BSc in Biology & Commerce
Joined: June 2016


Olivia is a third year biology and commerce student at Mount Allison University in the small town of Sackville, New Brunswick. Her passion for work in the geriatric community sparked in high school through her volunteering experience at an assisted living home for the elderly in Halifax. As a CAG representative, she hopes to help raise awareness to fellow undergraduate students about healthy ageing and to promote the well-being and rights of this population.

Isabelle Spinney

Representative at Mount Allison University
BSc in psychology and biochemistry
Joined: August 2017


My name is Isabelle Spinney and I am going into my fourth year at Mount Allison University. I am studying towards a Bachelor of Science with a double major in psychology and biochemistry. I am very interested in aging and aging research through my past experiences as a resident care worker at a local nursing home, and as a hospital volunteer. I also sit on a committee through the Alzheimer’s Society of NB, which organizes the Memory Café for Sackville NB. I would like to become a student representative to have the platform to further make a difference in the local community when it comes to inter-generational relationships. I would also like to educate fellow Mount Allison students about issues in aging and aging research.



Rachel Valenti

Representative at Western Regional School of Nursing
BSc in Nursing
Joined: June 2016


My name is Rachel Valenti. I am currently going into 3rd year
university. I am attending Western Regional School of Nursing and
going into my second year in the program. I am applying to
medical school when I finish my undergrad, hoping to obtain a
seat. If that does not happen right away, I will be applying for my
Masters, and continuing my education as a Nurse Practitioner. I
am a part of many committee’s at my school, some including: Co-
Coordinator for Shinerama (Cystic Fibrosis Canada), ARRNL
Student Representative, Promotions Coordinator for the Nursing
Society, Wellness Committee, and Canadian Nursing Students’
Association Committee. As a Nursing student, on a regular basis
we are encountered with aging in many aspects; whether it be at
work, in class, or through research. I completed a 3 week clinical
at Alternative Level of Care during my first year of Nursing school,
but I have years of volunteer hours, working with those of the
aging population. One of my recent research papers was based on
the challenges faced by the elderly who define themselves as
LGBTQ. I am hoping to spread more awareness about the
importance and impact that aging has on a person, and how
proper care of those in that age cohort is so detrimental. I have
such an interest in this area, and I am hoping to strengthen the



Emily Kervin

Representative at Mount Saint Vincent University
MA in Family Studies and Gerontology
Joined: September 2015

Emily completed her B.Sc (Honours) in Psychology at Mount Allison University, and is currently working towards her MA in Family Studies and Gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University. Emily’s research interests include multigenerational caregiving, person-centred care of individuals with dementia, and seniors’ mental health. She is currently working as a research assistant with the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging on a project that explores the impact of implementing a group psychotherapy/dementia care program for informal dementia carers. She is eager to bring East coast representation to the student connection and, from this opportunity, hopes to promote involvement with the field of gerontology to students on campus.



Theodore D. Cosco

UK Representative

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Joined: September 2013

Dr. Theodore D Cosco is a CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Oxford/UCL) having recently completed his doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge. Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon, Theodore developed an interest in gerontology early on, by age 12 Theodore was volunteering at a long-term care facility.  Upon completion of a BSc. with Specialisation in Psychology at the University of Alberta, which included a year internship as a Research Intern at a dementia research center, Theodore emigrated to Ireland to complete his MSc in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin. After working as a Research Officer at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland he joined the Cambridge Institute of Public Health to pursue his doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Carol Brayne. In addition to being an executive member of the CAG Student Connection he is also Chair of the British Society on Gerontology’s Emerging Researchers in Ageing executive committee. Being a transatlantic student representative, Theodore hopes to use the CAG Student Connection as a vehicle to foster collaborative efforts between Canadian, Canadian-expat, and British researchers.