A photo of lab member Dr. Deborah Scharf.

Dr. Deborah Scharf
PhD, C.Psych
Associate Professor

Deborah Scharf, PhD, CPsych (University of Pittsburgh, 2009) is a clinical and health psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Lakehead University. Dr. Scharf researches mental health and addiction delivery systems, finance, and policy. Her focus is on integrating mental health and addiction care with general medical services for complex populations such as adults with serious mental illness and multiple chronic conditions, injured workers, and military personnel and veterans. Dr. Scharf has additional interests in innovations in vivo electronic data capture and cannabis culture. Her academic background in tobacco research. Prior to joining Lakehead University, Dr. Scharf was a Behavioral and Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation and Core Faculty member of the RAND Pardee Graduate School.

Dr. Anna Koné Péfoyo
PhD (Public Health, Epidemiology)
Associate Professor, MHSc Graduate Coordinator, Gerontology Coordinator

My program of research addresses the roles of health service use and socio-cultural factors in health disparities, and the prevalence and management of chronic diseases and multimorbidity that challenge the current healthcare system. I am interested in addressing health challenges in northern and remote areas, particularly issues related to multiple chronic conditions among Indigenous people. There exist important gaps and inequities in health; therefore, the need to further explore issues pertaining to the use of services among complex individuals with multimorbidity, and members of marginalized populations, in order to improve health outcomes and reduce social inequalities.

Amanda Ruck
MPH (Nursing Specialization); PhD Candidate
Lecturer; Research Coordinator

Amanda is a Research Coordinator working closely with faculty from the Health and Behavioural Sciences department (Dr. Deborah ScharfDr. Anna Koné Péfoyo, & Dr. Rebecca Schiff) to conduct a program evaluation of a harm reduction peer mentorship program in Thunder Bay. Amanda is currently pursuing the PhD in Health Sciences at Lakehead University and also works as faculty in the School of Nursing. Amanda's research interests include public health, harm reduction, housing, social justice, simulation, education, nursing and patient safety. When not at work, Amanda enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dog, playing badminton and completing house renovations


Jewel Kozik
HBSc Biology, HBSc Psychology, MD Student (NOSM)
Research Coordinator

Jewel is a Research Coordinator for the BRANCHES Laboratory working primarily under Dr. Anna Koné on our Cancer Care Experience Study. Our Cancer Care Experience Study aims to use patient and provider experiences to develop strategies that better integrate complex cancer patients’ entire scope of care. Jewel was born and raised in a small northwestern Ontario community, and loves spending time outdoors. When not working, Jewel enjoys learning new skills and crafts, hiking, camping, travelling and more.

Christopher Armiento
HBSc Biology
Research Coordinator

Chris is a Research Coordinator for the BRANCHES Laboratory working on our Teen Advertising Study supervised primarily by Dr. Deborah Scharf, and co-supervised by Drs. Rupert Klein and Anna Koné. Our Teen Advertising Study aims to determine the effects of cannabis advertising on minors in a post-legalization setting. We plan to use an ecological momentary assessment methodology, in which teens use their cellphones to track exposures to cannabis and the impact those exposures have on their expectations of cannabis usage. The results will be used to help inform national policy, health services as well as the public. Chris was born and raised in Thunder Bay. He has always had an interest in psychology and biology, and as such working on the Teen Advertising Study has been a very exciting and valuable experience. When not in the lab, Chris can be found reading or skiing.

Chelsea Noël
BSc Psychology, GDip Program Evaluation, M.A. Student (Clinical Psychology Program)
Research Coordinator

Chelsea Noël is a Research Coordinator and second year M.A. clinical psychology student completing her thesis on a Teen Advertising Study supervised primarily by Dr. Deborah Scharf, and co-supervised by Drs. Rupert Klein and Anna Koné. Our Teen Advertising Study aims to determine the effects of cannabis advertising on minors in a post-legalization setting.  She is also working as a research assistant for the Enhancing the Prevention of Injury & Disability at Work (EPID@Work) Research Institute, and has completed an Injured Workers Study aiming to describe the mental health and social service needs of injured and ill workers in Thunder Bay and District who are engaged in the WSIB process. Chelsea completed her B.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 2017 and went on to complete a Graduate Certificate in Program Evaluation from the University of Ottawa in 2019. She hopes to continue on to her PhD studies in clinical psychology at Lakehead, following the completion of her M.A.. Chelsea’s primary interests include preventative care and treatment, mental health policy, substance use, cognition, and the use of in vivo data capture. When not working, she enjoys being a tourist, drinking coffee and camping.

Nolan Maenpaa
HBSc Psychology
Research Coordinator

Nolan is a research assistant on the Teen Advertising Study under the supervision of Dr. Deborah Sharf, Dr. Rupert Klein, and Dr. Anna Koné. This study aims to examine the effect of post-legalization cannabis advertising on adolescents, through the use of Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA). EMA allows us to assess the real-time effects of advertising on adolescents' thoughts and feelings. The results of this study will be beneficial in creating and enforcing current cannabis advertising laws, and guiding further legislation. Nolan is hoping to continue his education in counselling psychology and is currently working as the Grief Planner at Hospice Northwest.


Joshua Hawkins
BA Psychology; G.Dip. Clinical Behavioural Sciences
MA Clinical Psychology Student

Joshua Hawkins is in the second year of the MA program in Clinical Psychology.  His thesis focuses on the meaning of Quality of Life (QoL) for cancer patients with other chronic conditions (i.e. “complex cancer” patients), and his supervisor is Dr. Deborah Scharf. Prior to Lakehead University, Joshua completed a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Behavioural Sciences at McMaster University, for which he also co-facilitated Group Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder at the Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic (ATRC) at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.  He completed his undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Nebraska. Joshua also obtained experience in oncological research when he worked as a Clinical Researcher at Juravinski Hospital & Cancer Centre and McMaster University in Hamilton, ON.

Jillian Zitars
HBA Psychology
MA Clinical Psychology Student

Jillian is a second-year Master's student at Lakehead University, supervised by Dr. Deborah Scharf. Jillian is coordinating a program evaluation on the Integrated Mobile Police Assessment Crisis Team (IMPACT) for a contract the BRANCHES Lab has with the Canadian Mental Health Association - Thunder Bay. Her Master's thesis focuses on how mobile crisis intervention teams can be adapted to meet the context and needs of different communities and the critical components of these programs through a case study of the IMPACT program. Jillian also works as the Community Coordinator for the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System with Dr. Rebecca Schiff and Dr. Vijay Mago at Lakehead. Jillian completed her BA(Hons) in Psychology (Research Specialty Stream) at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2021. Her research interests include community mental health, mental health promotion and prevention, and mental health in populations living with life-threatening or chronic illnesses. In her free time, Jillian enjoys playing the guitar, hiking, and film photography.

Dallon Lamarche
Bachelor of Human Kinetics
MPH Student

Dallon is currently a first-year Master of Public Health student at Lakehead University’s BRANCHES Laboratory working under the supervision of Dr. Anna Koné. He completed his undergraduate degree in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. Here he received an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Award and the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Award to conduct basic and applied research at the University of Ottawa’s Human and Environmental Physiology Research Unit. Dallon completed his honours thesis on the effects of water temperature on whole-body heat loss during exercise before going on to publish the results in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. He has since published academic papers on various topics within the field of human thermoregulation during exercise heat stress. Dallon is currently employed at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre as a Registered Cardiology Technologist. His current research focus explores links between health services for complex individuals with multimorbidity and health outcomes within northern and remote areas of Canada.

Tamara Dean
Pharm. D.
MHSc Student

I am a first year student enrolled in the MHSc thesis program at Lakehead University. I am a Graduate Assistant working under the supervision of Dr. Anna Koné Péfoyo and Dr. Lynn Martin, completing literature review for patients with cancer and multimorbidities. I am a graduate of the University of Florida where I completed a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Pharm D). I am interested in the role of the Pharmacist in the optimization of outcomes of patients with cancer and multimorbidities.

Ekjot Kaur Grewal
HBSc Biology
MPH Student

Ekjot is a first year student in the Master of Public Health program at Lakehead University. Ekjot is a Graduate Assistant working under Dr. Koné assisting with literature review and data management for the Cancer Care Experience Study. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of British Columbia. Ekjot has published findings related to abiotic variables and presence of invasive species in Vancouver beaches. Her involvement as a volunteer aid worker setting up eye outreach camps in India, shadowing dental clinics and promoting oral health, and facilitating reconciliation projects with the United Nations Association in Canada inspired her to pursue public health advocation, science and humanitarianism. When Ekjot is not busy scouring research articles and studying anything health related, she can be found painting, baking, travelling the world, and exploring nature.

Helen Gabriel
HBSc Biomedical Science
MPH with Epidemiology student

Helen is in her second year of the Master's of Public Health program at Lakehead University. She is currently working as a graduate assistant under Dr. Koné. Helen is involved with data management of the Management of Chronic Conditions among Indigenous Populations study. She has also had a role in data analysis, literature review and data management in the Early COVID-19 Pandemic Reinfection Rates in Ontario, Canada: Evidence from Population Healthcare Administrative Data study. She presented a poster on the project alongside Dr. Scharf and Dr. Koné at the 2021 CSEB conference. Helen's key interests are global health equity and infectious disease. Her hobbies include hiking and global travel.




Zoe Murphy
HBSc Psychology

Zoe is currently in her fourth year of the Psychology program at Lakehead University, completing her honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Deborah Scharf. Zoe is very passionate about mental health and hopes to find a career in which she can help people in need. Her primary research interests include mental health, sport psychology, and psychology of aging. Zoe is also very involved in the community at Lakehead University, as Vice President of both Psi Chi and PALS for the 2022-23 year. Following graduation, Zoe plans to pursue graduate studies in the field of Clinical Psychology or Speech-Language Pathology!

Amanda Maltais
Undergraduate Psychology Student

Tracey Larocque
PhD (Health Sciences) Candidate