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Our Team

Our team includes staff and students (both at the undergraduate and graduate level) from diverse disciplines. We support capacity building and skill development at the Early Childhood Collaborative Research Centre through intentional goal-setting and teamwork.

Research at the ECCRC is led by Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood: Diversity and Transitions

Jessie-Lee McIsaacAssistant Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood: Diversity and Transitions with the Faculty of Education and Department of Child and Youth Study 

Jessie-Lee holds a PhD in Public Health and an MSc in Health Promotion, both from the University of Alberta, and a BSc in Kinesiology from Dalhousie University. Prior to coming to the Mount she completed a postdoctoral fellowship studying policy interventions and knowledge mobilization with the Healthy Populations Institute (Dalhousie University) and Propel Centre for Population Health Impact (University of Waterloo). 

The goal of her program of research is to enhance well-being during early childhood by ensuring policy and practice supports families as they transition across early learning environments. McIsaac studies early childhood and educational policy initiatives using an engaged scholarship approach to co-produce research that mobilizes knowledge and experiences for and with marginalised families. She works collaboratively with researchers, community, policy makers and research participants to inform policy and program design and decision-making.

Fun stuff 

When not doing research in early childhood, she is doing the practice of early childhood with her son Michael.  

Brittney Roughan MSVU 2018Brittney Roughan, MSc, Research Grants Manager  

Brittney began working at MSVU in 2016 as a project manager for Dr. Zachary Zimmer’s Global Aging and Community Initiative and Dr. Maya Eichler’s Centre for Social Innovation and Community Engagement in Military Affairs. Brittney uses these experiences with these research groups to assist the Early Childhood Collaborative Research Centre with research grants management. She obtained her MSc in Environmental Science from St. Francis Xavier University in 2015 and her BSc in Environmental Science from McGill University in 2009. Brittney also serves as the MSVU University Delegate for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).  

Fun stuff 

In her free time, Brittney enjoys fly fishing the rivers of Nova Scotia. Here she is with a Rainbow Trout in Antigonish, May 2018. 

20151011_0856Alison Brown, MLIS, Research Project Manager

Alison is a recent graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University where she completed a thesis exploring the profound outcomes of a shared reading program for federally incarcerated mothers and their families. Her research interests include the reading practices of marginalized communities and reading for empathy and social justice. She is preparing her PhD research project in which she will work with children and youth involved in the foster care system to determine what role reading for pleasure can play in supporting their social and emotional well-being.

Fun stuff 

Alison likes best to wander and wonder with family and friends, read books with her kids in the hammock, hike along the coast, camp in the woods, eat pie, and arrive early.

Stephanie McCabe MSVU 2018

Stephanie McCabe, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Department of Child and Youth Study 

Stephanie's research interests revolve around policies and practices that early childhood educator’s engage in with their preschool aged children (3 to 5 years of age). Particularly, her focus incorporates preschool children’s sleep patterns, behavioral and social-emotional needs, as well as physical activity and sedentary behaviors/activities. Stephanie is about to start her thesis on the perspectives and understandings of preschool children's sleep quality and duration in child care centres. 

Fun stuff

In her spare time Stephanie loves to be outside! She enjoys going camping on the weekends and spending time with family and friends. Her favorite pass times include hiking, canoeing, swimming, biking, snowshoeing and reading. Here is a picture of Stephanie and her boyfriend Lukas in Canning, Nova Scotia at the Look Off. 

Brenna Richard MSVU 2018Brenna Richard, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Department of Child and Youth Study

Brenna’s research interests are predominantly in the area of children’s health and wellness, especially physical activity, outdoor play, loose parts, and nutrition practices. She is soon starting her thesis in which she hopes to explore the attitudes and practices surrounding outdoor play in Nova Scotia’s Pre-primary Program. 

Fun stuff 

Brenna enjoys being outdoors engaging in a variety of activities such as biking, running, hiking, kayaking and looking for wildlife! When not in Halifax, she can be found visiting friends and family back home in New Brunswick.  

Fun - Marla SmithMarla Smith, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Department of Child and Youth Study 

Marla's research interests relate to the socio-emotional health of children. She is specifically interested in how a child’s past experiences, parent behavior for example, impact their socio-emotional health and what can be done in order to help a child prosper, even if their early years were unfortunately tainted with unfavorable experiences.  

Fun stuff

This is a picture of Marla in a tulip field near Dromore, Prince Edward Island. This will be her first summer away from PEI, and although she will definitely miss the beaches and fun exertions, Marla is definitely excited to see what Nova Scotia has to offer! Summer is one of my favorite seasons, and Marla loves finding fun, and colorful, things to do!  

Fun - Sam RiouxSam Rioux, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Department of Child and Youth Study 

Meet another one of our R.A's, Sam Rioux! Sam's research interest revolve around the over representation of Indigenous youth in the Canadian Justice System and Corrections Canada. Sam's research is focused on the experiences of Indigenous youth in the Canadian Justice system, through the lens of colonialism and the social determinants of health. Through her studies in the Child and Youth department at MSVU, she has been able to combine her two research passions into her graduate work: Children & Youth, and Psychology & Law.

Fun stuff

When she is not researching or spending her time in a gym coaching badminton, she loves to be at the beach! Exploring different beaches and hikes has been one of her summer activities since moving to NS full time. Her favorite thing to do in the summer is to spend time at Thunder Cove, PEI, while reading the newest true crime book!

Fun - Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell, Communications Assistant, Mount Saint Vincent University  

Chris Mitchell is currently enrolled in Mount Saint Vincent’s Public Relations program. This summer he will be working with the Early Childhood Collaborative Research Centre to help form and grow connections within the community. Chris is looking forward to helping the ECCRC form strong partnerships with early childhood practitioners and organizations.

Fun stuff

In his spare time, Chris enjoys pursuits both in and outdoors. Some of his favorites include; creative
writing, watching and playing sports, reading, hiking, hanging out with friends, and listening to music.

Fun - Madison MacQuarrieMadison MacQuarrie, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Health Promotion, Dalhousie University

Meet Madison! Madison is a Master’s in Health Promotion student at Dalhousie University. Her research interests involve many topics Health Promotion related. For her thesis research, Madison is exploring partnerships and participation in the Halifax Mobile Food Market in relation to partnership sustainability. Over the past few years, she has also developed a keen research interest in the health of children in the early years, specifically related to physical activity.

Fun stuff

In her spare time, Madison can be found being active outdoors, exploring, cooking or relaxing with family and friends at her family cottage in Antigonish!

Fun - Sarah MorrisSarah Morris, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Health Promotion, Dalhousie University

Meet another one of our research assistants, Sarah! Sarah’s educational background is in Applied Human Nutrition, a degree she completed through MSVU in 2011. After a few years of private nutrition consulting, she discovered her passion for health promotion and disease prevention, which led her to the graduate Health Promotion program at Dalhousie University and ultimately to discover her research interest in early childhood development. Sarah’s research background primarily includes her own thesis work, which explored perceptions of physical health and well-being in the early years and her experience with social-emotional learning in the early years. It is her hope to tie together her passion for food and nutrition and early childhood development.

Fun stuff 

Sarah enjoys running and is currently training for a quarter marathon this summer. Above all, she loves spending time with her husband and two daughters playing outside, hiking in the woods, and engaging her family in vegetable gardening.

Patrick Carolan, PhD, Research Project Manager

Patrick joined the research group at MSVU in 2018, after moving to Halifax from Vancouver, BC. His doctoral research at Simon Fraser University used electroencephalography (EEG) to examine the interactions of emotion and visual attention with impulsivity and other psychopathic personality traits. Since graduating in Summer 2017, his post-doctoral work has focused on early childhood development and cross cultural variation in developmental trajectories.  

Patrick Carolan minature 2018

Fun stuff 

Patrick is an avid miniatures wargamer. While he’s not doing science, cooking, hiking, or chasing his cats around their apartment, Patrick is probably building or painting a new model like this recently finished critter


Sandeep Dhillon MSVU 2018Sandeep Dhillon, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Family Studies and Gerontology

Sandeep is currently completing her thesis on the mental health and well-being of elderly immigrant Punjabi women who are living in Nova Scotia, funded by the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. Her personal research is heavily tailored to the health and well-being of immigrant women from the South Asian culture and the effect of immigration in old age.

Fun stuff 

In Sandeep’s spare time she enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, and writing in her blog.   

Sherry Stevenson, Evaluations Coordinator

Sherry is an experienced adult educator and community development professional with over fifteen years experience in the non-profit sector. Having worked in international development in various regions of Africa, she has contributed to local initiatives as a facilitator, curriculum developer, and evaluator. She has led capacity-building workshops, community-based participatory research, and program evaluation, with an emphasis on action learning and sustainability. She holds an M.A. in Adult Education with a specialization in Community Development from Saint Francis Xavier University, and an Honours B.A. in Human Rights and Psychology from Carleton University. Sherry brings a passion for social justice, experiential learning, and participatory methodologies to the evaluation work of the Early Collaborative Research Centre. 

Fun stuff

Sherry can often be found wandering in the forest or at one of Halifax's Farmers Markets. She enjoys getting her hands dirty in the garden, reading books, and sharing tasty food with friends.

Fun - Odeisa StewartOdeisa Stewart, Graduate Research Assistant, School of Public Administration, Dalhousie University

Odeisa is a currently a 2nd year Master of Pubic Administration Candidate at Dalhousie University. After completing a bachelor’s degree with a major in Child Studies Education and Specialization in Therapeutic Recreation, she aspires to continue to influence education and community programming through the policy process.

Fun stuff 

In Odeisa’s spare time she enjoys being active; such as taking hikes, swimming and CrossFit, making her way to her home town of Montreal to spend time with her family and vacationing in the Caribbean.