Writer, Author, and Lecturer in Psychology (University of British Columbia) / Blogger @ The State of Us
Supporting academic and public discourse in the psychological and social sciences. Specializing in (1) educational development and leadership; (2) writing, editing, and content creation; and (3) business and community consulting.
Writer, Author, and Lecturer in Psychology (University of British Columbia)
My background and training in psychology have been diverse, spanning the areas of stress, coping, and occupational health; social support and relationships; spirituality and personal meaning; dreams; and coping with the threat of infectious disease.
PhD (Psychology). I received my PhD in health psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2013. My research addressed work-related stress and the ways in which couples cope with stress together across settings. We initially recruited over a hundred paramedics and their cohabitating partners/spouses from across Canada in order to better understand their experiences with stress, including their ability to cope with stress originating on the job. Employing daily diary methods, we found evidence of stress transmission/contagion between home and work settings and between paramedics and their partners. Additional findings are continuing to be published.
MSc (Statistical Modelling/Psychology). Prior to my doctoral training, I completed a Master of Science degree at Trent University in Ontario in 2008. As part of an interdisciplinary program focused on statistical modelling, I examined the concept of spiritual intelligence. This involved the proposal of a new model and definition of spiritual intelligence, as well as the development and empirical validation of a corresponding self-report measure, the SISRI-24. (For more information, see my publications here.)
BSc (Psychology). I received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology in 2006, also from Trent University. My honours thesis examined the relationships among dream content and aspects of self-reported health. During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to be involved in a few different studies on dreams and dreaming, and it was during this time that I realized many related interests, including personal meaning, trauma, and health.
Today my research addresses the question of how stress unfolds within social contexts of varying degree and complexity. Within dyadic and small-group contexts (e.g., family), I am interested in understanding how individuals cope with stress together and transmit stress across roles and settings. Implicated here is the individual’s ability to make meaning of stressful or traumatic experiences, particularly those which compromise physical, mental, or social health. On the sociocultural level, I am interested in describing how individuals cope with stress arising from disease outbreaks, pandemics, and other collective threats to health and well-being, such as climate change. In this latter pursuit, I address the question of how people behave to influence (and potentially mitigate) the threat itself, according to both intra- and interpersonal motivations. In this way, my research examines stress within social contexts of increasing complexity, from dyads to communities. Other interests include the long-term effects of trauma among healthcare professionals (e.g., paramedics) and the application of transactional models of stress and coping to clinical, ‘invisible,’ and otherwise vulnerable populations (e.g., older adults, Holocaust survivors, Indigenous and LGBTQ people).
In addition to my research, I have been teaching at the university level since 2012, leading upper-level courses in personality, health psychology, and the psychology of sex differences in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. This is in addition to my recent development of a second-year course on the psychology of death and dying. To date, I have taught over 10,000 students at the undergraduate level, remaining dedicated to my goal of fostering critical thinking and collaborative engagement in the field of psychology. In 2019, I was awarded the Knox Master Teaching Award for excellence in teaching by the Department of Psychology at UBC.
Over the past decade, I have authored multiple papers in peer-reviewed journals and co-authored two undergraduate textbooks (see Books and Publications). I have received multiple awards for research in psychology, including an Early Career Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). For more information on my research and publication history, you read find my CV here.
In 2015, I moved to Bowen Island, British Columbia, a small island community located in Howe Sound, just off the West Coast of Canada. Bowen is a pretty amazing place, offering an escape from the the city without feeling too remote. My main motivation for making the move was to escape the cement and concrete, and to better reconnect with nature. After living in the City of Vancouver for nearly a decade, I needed a change. I am grateful for being able to make the move when I did. Although I leave the island regularly for work, my nature-focused mindset plays a major role in my outlook on holistic health and well-being. I strongly believe that fostering a deeper connection with nature is a precursor to a complete sense of wellness, a notion that informs all aspects of my work.
Fortunately, I didn’t make the move to Bowen Island alone. In that same year, I married my best friend on the island. Together we enjoy our days exploring the nature of the island, connecting with good friends, and taking care of our little ones, Hunter and Scout, two rescued dogs from Mexico. Of course life is not without its challenges or losses. But I believe that life is what you make it, and the last few years have reaffirmed that belief for me tenfold. Our relationships and connections, including those with the natural world and other species, are essential parts of who we are and how we find meaning and happiness. They’re also necessary for the maintenance of good health and well-being on all levels, from physical and mental to social and spiritual.
I am also an advocate for social justice, particularly in matters of human rights and environmental conservation. I consider myself a feminist and a staunch defender of equality, whether in the classroom or outside of it. To this end, I strive to be an ally to those who are marginalized or otherwise disenfranchised, whether they be other members of the LGBTQIA+ community, racialized people, people living in poverty, or those dealing with disability, illness, or addiction. Human decency is one of my primary values and I find myself increasingly motivated to protect and nurture it. By extension, I am a dedicated supporter of animal rights. I have a strong collectivistic orientation to the world around me, and this manifests in a sincere appreciation for both human and non-human life. I am also an environmentalist, having an affinity for nature and nonhuman life for as long as I can remember. No matter the circumstances, I try to approach every situation with humility, compassion, and awareness of the bigger picture.
Meet Hunter and Scout…