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Our Research Team

Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac, Assistant Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood: Diversity and Transitions is the Principal Investigator and Director of ECCRC.

Our multidisciplinary research staff consists of professionals and students at the undergraduate and graduate levels from diverse disciplines. We support capacity building and skills development through intentional goal-setting and teamwork.

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 McIsaac holds a PhD in Public Health and an MSc in Health Promotion from the University of Alberta, and a BSc in Kinesiology from Dalhousie University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship on 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.  

 Marlene Flores Ramos, MA WGS

Research Projects Manager  

20151011_0856Alison Brown, MLIS

Research Associate

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, MA CYS

Pyramid Model Project Coordinator

Stephanie is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Child and Youth Study program from Mount Saint Vincent University where she completed a thesis looking at parents and early childhood educator’s role in supporting the sleep hygiene practices of preschool-aged children in licensed childcare. Currently Stephanie is working at ECCRC as the Project Coordinator for the province-wide Pyramid Model initiative. Stephanie has always been passionate about supporting children with challenging behaviours and that’s why the Pyramid Model is the perfect fit for her!

Fun stuff

In her spare time Stephanie loves to be outside! She enjoys going camping on the weekends and spending time with family, friends, her two kittens Maple and Penny and her puppy Finn! Her favorite pass times include hiking, canoeing, swimming, snowshoeing and reading.

Brenna Richard MSVU 2018Brenna Richard, MA CYS

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 Research Assistant, 

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 Research Assistant

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 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, MA 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.

Denver HillandDenver Hilland, MA Health Promotion Project Coordinator

Denver Hilland holds a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Education, with a minor in Psychology from Wilfred Laurier University. She recently completed a Master of Arts Health Promotion through Dalhousie University. Denver's MA thesis explored parental perspectives of young children engaging in outdoor risky play. Her research interests include anything to do with healthy living and optimal development throughout the lifespan.

Fun stuff

Outside of work, Denver can be found teaching group fitness or clambering up mountains!

LeahLeah Crowell, Project Coordinator

Leah Crowell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Studies, with a minor in Psychology from Mount Saint Vincent University. She also completed a Master of Arts Sociology through Dalhousie University. Leah's MA thesis explored the importance of family to incarcerated youth and young adults. Her research interests include anything to do with social and emotional development throughout the lifespan. 

Fun stuff: Outside of work Leah loves Christmas parades and the great outdoors.

Jane Harley bio picJane Harley, MA Evaluation Manager

Jane holds an M.A. in Family Studies from the University of British Columbia, a B.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Washington, and A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education. She has additional graduate training in Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology. Jane spent several years teaching preschool before moving into academic research. She has been involved in numerous programs of research including investigations of ADHD in preschool populations, social-emotional learning in young children, and influences of parenting on childrens’ emotion regulation. Additionally, Jane spent 5 years as an instructor at the University of British Columbia teaching courses such as Child Development and Applying Developmental Theories. Her personal research interests include externalizing behavioral problems in preschool children and the impact of parent–child conflict on family processes.

Fun stuff:

Jane loves spending time with her husband and preschool-aged son, is passionate about travelling, and likes to cook, watch baseball, drink craft beer, and attempt the occasional craft project.

  • Brittney Roughan, MSc., Research Grants Manager
  • Patrick Carolan, PhD, Research Project Manager
  • Sandeep Dhillon, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Family Studies and Gerontology  
  • Sherry Stevenson, Evaluations Coordinator
  • Odeisa Stewart, Graduate Research Assistant, School of Public Administration, Dalhousie University