Current Lab Members

Dr. Trish Tucker

Faculty, Lab Director

Dr. Trish Tucker is an Associate Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy and the Director of the Child Health & Physical Activity Lab at Western University. Dr. Tucker’s expertise are in the broad areas of health promotion, physical activity, and childhood obesity prevention. Her primary area of research is the measurement and promotion of physical activity with a particular focus on preschool-aged children.


Trish’s current research includes:

(1) identifying and modifying environmental influences on young children’s physical activity and sedentary time at childcare;

(2) exploring the effects of introducing physical activity policies in childcare centres; and

(3) developing and testing an online physical activity training module for implementation during early childhood educators’ pre-service schooling.


Dr. Tucker’s research potential has been recognized by an Ontario Early Researcher Award (reserved for emerging scholarly leaders within their respective fields) and the Petro Canada Young Innovator Award at Western University, and in 2020 she was designated Faculty Scholar in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western. Trish has two young kids who keep her very active.


Dr. Trish Tucker

Monika Szpunar

2nd year PhD Student

Monika recently completed her Master's thesis in Health Promotion, which explored the feasibility of a written physical activity policy for increasing young children's physical activity levels in childcare. Prior to starting her graduate work, she completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences at Western University. Her PhD work involves exploring parents' perspectives on their child(ren)'s return to play and sport following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. In her free time, Monika enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with her dog.

Funding: Mitacs, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization


Brianne Bruijns

4th year PhD candidate

Brianne Bruijns is a PhD Candidate in the field of Health Promotion at Western University. She graduated from her Master's program in Health Promotion at Western in 2018, and completed her undergraduate degree in Physical Education at Brock University in 2016. Her research is focused on promoting physical activity and minimizing sedentary behaviour in the early years. For her dissertation she developed and pilot tested an e-Learning course in physical activity and sedentary behaviour for pre-service early childhood educators to supplement their college/university education. Brianne loves to travel, and always finds a hiking trail wherever she goes!

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Joseph Armand-Bombardier Doctoral Award, North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine Student Award, Ontario Graduate Scholarship


Emma Ostermeier

2nd year PhD Student

Emma is a PhD Candidate in Health Promotion at Western University. Recently, she completed her Master’s in Geography at Western exploring children’s perceptions of, and access to, a free physical activity intervention for elementary school children. She also received an undergraduate degree in Human Biology from the University of Toronto in 2017. Emma’s research interests include promoting physical activity and supporting health lifestyles amongst children. Her thesis focuses on examining the impact of free recreation programming on children’s physical activity levels, as well as identifying the factors that complicate and/or facilitate the implementation of physical activity interventions for children. In her spare time, Emma enjoys playing soccer, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.


Kendall Saravanamuttoo

1st Year MSc Student

Kendall recently graduated from Western University with an Honours Specialization in Health Sciences. She is a first year Master of Science student specializing in Health Promotion. Kendall’s research interests include the promotion of physical activity and finding ways to motivate children beyond sedentary activities. In her thesis, she plans to explore parent perspectives on their child(ren)’s return to play and sport beyond the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. In her spare time, Kendall loves making her favourite pizza and sourdough recipes, biking, hiking and spending time outside with her Aussie shepherd puppy.


Dr. Leigh Vanderloo

Post-Doctoral Associate

Having received her PhD in Health Promotion from the University of Western Ontario in 2016, Dr. Vanderloo’s area of research focuses on the objective measurement of young children’s physical activity levels and sedentary time. Her research interests also extend to the impact of the outdoor environment on young children’s activity behaviours. Dr. Vanderloo has published some of the first national and international papers examining the variability in young children’s activity levels across various early learning environments as well as exploring approaches for improving objective measurement in this population. She recently completed a CIHR Research Fellowship with SickKids Hospital where she examined the association between physical activity and sedentary behaviours and cardiometabolic risk in children. Currently, Dr. Vanderloo is working as the Knowledge Translation Manager at ParticipACTION and is also a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab. In 2021, Dr. Vanderloo was awarded the Children’s Health Research Institute (CHRI) Trainee Award.

Funding: Children's Health Research Institute


Leah Taylor

MScOT/PhD Student

Leah is completing a combined MScOT/PhD degree (Health Promotion stream) through the School of Occupational Therapy. Leah's background includes a BHSc (honours Health Promotion) at Western University graduating in 2016, and a MSc in Geography from Western University. Leah's masters research focused on children's physical activity behaviours related to their environments. Since graduating in 2018, Leah has been working with the Department of National Defence as a Community Recreation Coordinator for military members and their families. Occupational Therapy combines Leah's passion for health promotion, and the client-focused interactions and hands-on practices of recreation. She will be pursuing research into the applications of the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines as a tool in Occupational Therapy when working with young children with disabilities. Leah enjoys spending all her free time outdoors; hiking, camping, gardening and running. 

Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship


Kshitija Mundle

Work Study Student

Kshitija Mundle is a third-year undergraduate student working towards an Honours Specialization in Health Sciences at Western University. During her Undergraduate Student Research Internship in Summer 2021, Kshitija worked under Monika Szpunar to explore parent perspectives on their child(ren)'s return to play and sport following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. She is continuing with the lab for the 2021-2022 academic year as a Work Study student to assist with administrative and research-related tasks. As a former camp counsellor and the proud daughter of an Early Childhood Assistant, Kshitija is passionate about working with and for children. She looks forward to learning more about the research process and how information learned in the lab can be applied to improve the lives of all of those involved in childcare. In her free time, Kshitija enjoys writing poetry, spending time with her family and friends, and watching Bollywood movies.

Funding: Undergraduate Student Research Internship, Work Study Program

Tanya Nguyen

Scholars' Elective Student

Tanya is a second-year undergraduate student working towards Bachelor of Health Studies degree at Western University. As part of the Scholars' Electives program, Tanya will lead a secondary data analysis of the TEACH tool validation study, wherein she will explore how demographic variables (such as personal physical activity level, childcare employment type, and ethnicity, etc.) may influence early childhood educators' physical activity and sedentary behaviour-related self-efficacy, behavioural intention, and perceived behavioural control.


Aidan Loh

Research Assistant

Aidan Loh is a second-year undergraduate student at Western University working towards an Honours Specialization in Clinical Kinesiology. Aidan assisted with activities related to the Act-i-Pass program as well as work with Dr. Vanderloo to advance the knowledge translation (KT) practices. He is now managing creative KT initiatives (e.g., creating infographics, social media posts, and a research summary video) for the TEACH study. Growing up actively involved in a variety of sports, Aidan has seen how his physical involvements at an early age contributed to a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. Through his work with the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab he is looking forward to contributing to the promotion of children’s physical activity in and around the community. In his spare time, Aidan enjoys running, spending time with his friends, and exploring the outdoors.