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Research Team

Dr. Paula Barata

My research deals with the psychosocial determinants that influence women’s health and wellbeing. In particular, I am interested in how women are broadly impacted by sexual and physical violence, and what we can do to ameliorate that violence.  Currently, I am working on projects dealing with the evaluation and implementation of a sexual assault prevention program, housing discrimination against battered women, and the evaluation of a program for children who have witnessed intimate partner violence.  I have also done work on the incorporation of HPV technologies into cervical cancer prevention.

Alexis Fabricius

Alexis Fabricius is in the Applied Social Psychology program working toward her second MA after having completed two Honours BAs (one in history and one in psychology) at York University in Toronto. Her undergraduate research focused on gendered violence; specifically, she examined how the experiences of blind and partially sighted women can be used to develop relevant violence prevention programming for them. Her research was awarded the Originality Prize in memory of Paul Jeffrey Kuszyszyn. More recently, her applied work is examining how sex and gender impact the severity and outcomes of traumatic brain injury with Dr. Angela Colantonio in the Acquired Brain Injuries lab at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Presently, her research is focused on using qualitative methods and critical theory to challenge traditional approaches to interventions, programming, and policy. Her research interests include feminist and critical theory, post-modern approaches to psychology, sex and gender, sexual assault/IPV prevention, health research, and women’s experiences in the healthcare system. Alexis Fabricius also owns and operates a feminist women’s self-defense company, Invicta Self-Defense.

Brianna Wilson

Brianna is an MA student in Applied Social Psychology at the University of Guelph. She also completed her Honours BA in Psychology, with a minor in Philosophy, at U of G. Her research interests include community-based research, gender norms, and violence against women prevention. For her MA thesis, Brianna is investigating the impact of exposure to online misogyny on men’s acceptance of sexual violence, and what might be done to mitigate any negative influences. Within the lab, Brianna has also assisted with a community-based research project studying financial abuse in the Toronto area. Furthermore, she is currently working at the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute as a Graduate Student Research Assistant.

Sonia Zawitkowski

Sonia Zawitkowski is a Master’s student in the Applied Social Psychology program.  She graduated with her BA in Economics in 2014 from the University of Guelph, and her experience afterward working as a Research Assistant at organizations like CAMH and St. Michael’s Hospital made her want to pursue her own research in Applied Social Psychology. Her past research has involved criticizing common methods of evaluating batterer intervention programs and financial abuse as a form of intimate partner violence.  Her current research involves looking at how the social and political attitudes of students (particularly in the context of research on sexism) relate to different personality characteristics and other factors.

Dylan Schentag

Dylan Schentag completed his BA in psychology at the University of Windsor and is currently a second-year MA student in the Applied Social Psychology program at the University of Guelph. His research interests lie broadly in the area of sexual violence prevention and education, particularly on university campuses. Other research interests include gender-based violence, toxic and healthy masculinities, and social power dynamics. Dylan’s current research project focuses on educating university-age men on the impact ‘lower-level’ forms of rape culture (e.g., rape jokes) has on sexual assault and the role they play in either facilitating or disrupting this process.

Tanja Samardzic

Tanja Samardzic is a PhD student in Applied Social Psychology. Before beginning doctoral studies at the University of Guelph, Tanja completed both an Honours BA in Psychology with Thesis and an MA in Applied Social Psychology at the University of Windsor. Broadly, Tanja’s research is focused on exploring self-silencing, which involves active restriction of one’s self-expressions for the purpose of maintaining intimate relationships. Her MA thesis explored young women’s experiences of male-perpetrated intimate partner and engagement in self-silencing, as well as the consequences to the relationship (e.g., compliance with unwanted sex). For her doctoral dissertation, Tanja plans to investigate both the societal discourses at play that place importance on the finding and maintaining of intimate relationships for young women and young women’s employment of relational strategies (particularly self-silencing) within the context of being in relationships with abusive men. In addition to her doctoral work, Tanja has recently begun a research assistantship at the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI) and she is a co-organizer of the upcoming Honouring International Women’s Day 2020 Conference: Research & Revolt!

Sophia Suzuki

Sophia Suzuki is majoring in Psychology: Brain and Cognition with a minor in Neuroscience. She is currently working on her Honours Thesis Project with Dr. Barata. She is specifically researching the Trauma-Informed Framework in the context of a childhood education program at a shelter for abused and homeless women. She hopes to continue on to graduate school in either Health or Social Psychology. 

Alex Zebeljan

Alex Zebeljan is completing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Family and Child Studies. While in the research group, she has completed her Honours Thesis Project. For her thesis, she researched women’s sexual communication and sexual double standards within the context of hookups (casual sexual encounters). She hopes to continue on to graduate school in clinical or counseling psychology.

Paul Copoc

Paul is currently completing his undergraduate psychology degree in Honors Psychology at the University of Guelph. In the Fall of 2019, Paul began working on his undergraduate thesis with Dr. Barata. His undergraduate thesis is an experimental study investigating the function of trigger warnings in university classrooms. Specifically, Paul is interested in two outcomes. First, he is interested in observing the relationship between trigger warnings and stigma, and if trigger warnings play a role in increasing or decreasing stigma towards those with mental health issues. Second, he is interested in the relationship between trigger warnings and the willingness to seek help. That is, do trigger warnings impact people’s willingness to seek help if they experience depression or anxiety after viewing sensitive material in the classroom. Paul will also be a research assistant for Dylan Schentag, a master’s student of Dr. Barata, who is currently working on a sexual assault bystander project. In the past, Paul was a research assistant in Dr. Safdar’s Centre for Cross-Cultural Research lab where he worked on the Syrian Refugee Giving Hope Project. Paul completed an Independent Research Project for Dr. Safdar examining the Acculturation of Syrian Refugees in Germany which accumulated in a publication in the SURG Journal. Paul hopes to continue in the Applied Social Psychology program after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph.

Sandra Erb

Sandy is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology program at the University of Guelph. Her research focuses on the experience of negative self-conscious emotions and resilience in survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). Sandy’s master’s thesis research examined the relationship between self-compassion, shame, and self-blame in IPV survivors. She is currently collecting data for her dissertation project that involves the development and validation of a trauma-related shame and guilt scale. Sandy has also collaborated in the PhotoVoice research project on women’s safety with the Women’s Health and Wellbeing Research Team. 

Olivia Barclay

Olivia Barclay is a second-year B.A. Psychology student at the University of Guelph. Currently, Olivia is working in Dr. Barata’s lab as a website designer and helping Barata and the other lab members conduct a study on consent. She hopes to work on an Honours Thesis project next year and continue her studies to graduate school to pursue a career as a psychologist.