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Current Lab Members

Faculty, Lab Director

Dr. Trish Tucker is a 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.

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Post-Doctoral Associate, Adjunct Professor

Dr. Brianne Bruijns serves as a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy. She completed her MSc ('18) and PhD ('21) degrees in the field of Health Promotion at Western University, and completed her undergraduate degree in Physical Education at Brock University ('16). During her SSHRC-funded doctoral studies, her research focused on developing and pilot testing an e-Learning course in physical activity and sedentary behaviour for pre-service early childhood educators to supplement their college/university education (The TEACH Study). As a Post-Doctoral Associate, Brianne oversees the SUNRISE and ME & YOU studies, and provides strategic planning and grant-writing support. Dr. Bruijns' role is coupled with a position as the Report Card Project Manager at ParticipACTION. She loves to travel, and always finds a hiking trail wherever she goes!

Funding: CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship

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Post-Doctoral Associate

Dr. Sophie Phillips is a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Child Health & Physical Activity Lab at Western University. Sophie received her PhD in Public Health in 2022 from Durham University, UK. Sophie’s PhD research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Public Health Research (NIHR SPHR) and focused on assessing options for the measurement of 24-hour movement behaviour of preschool-aged children. Prior to this Sophie completed her MSc in Health Psychology (Staffordshire University, UK) and BSc in Psychology (University of Liverpool, UK). Sophie joined the lab from the Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) research centre at The University of Cambridge, UK. As a Post-Doctoral Associate in the lab, Sophie oversees the MOBILITY, Active Family, and Active Play in Childcare projects, and is leading a systematic review examining sedentary behaviour and screen time on early life mental health indicators. Sophie was recently awarded a Young Investigator Award by the Society for the Study of Human Biology for her work examining measurement of 24-hour movement behaviour in young children. Outside of work, Sophie loves spending time with family and friends, and enjoys going to the gym, being outdoors, and reading.

Funding: Children's Health Research Institute and Mitacs

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Adjunct Professor

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.

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MScOT/PhD Candidate

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. Leah’s current PhD research focuses on practical applications of the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines as a tool in early intervention occupational therapy when working with young children (age 0-5 years) with developmental disabilities. Leah enjoys spending all her free time outdoors - hiking, camping, gardening, and running.

Funding: Sir Fredrick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award (Canadian Institute of Health Research), Ontario Graduate Scholarship

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PhD Candidate

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.

Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship and Mitacs

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Post-Doctoral Associate and Adjunct Professor

Dr. Matthew Bourke is a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy, Western University. Matthew was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab between 2022-2023, where he coordinated the full-scale evaluation of the Training Early Childhood Educators in Physical Activity (TEACH) Study. His current work focuses on the impact of 24-hour movement behaviours and developmental outcomes in young children.  He continues to collaborate on several projects with researchers in the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab, including the Movement and Irritability (MOBILITY) study. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys cooking for friends and family, keeping active, but binging TV series

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Myranda Hawthorne

PhD Candidate

Myranda is a PhD candidate in the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program, specializing in Health Promotion at Western University. She recently completed her Master’s in Health: Science, Technology and Policy at Carleton University, exploring gender differences in child and youth sport participation and assisting with the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance’s Global Matrix 4.0 initiative. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from Trent University in 2021. Myranda’s research interests include measurement and promotion of physical activity and other healthy lifestyle practices in children. In her spare time, Myranda enjoys running, swimming, and spending time with family and friends.

Bayley Inniss

Call

PhD Candidate

Bayley is completing her PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in the Health Promotion stream. Her background includes an HBA in Psychology and Gerontology and an MPH, both from Lakehead University. Bayley’s MPH research focused on strategies to reduce bacterial wound infection rates in childcare settings through the positive deviance framework, which works to promote success by championing those engaging in behaviors allowing them to thrive while others who face similar challenges, despite not having additional resources or knowledge, do not. Her PhD research topic is currently being formulated, with the aim of creating a meaningful research program to lead to lasting change in the health habits of children. When Bayley isn’t working on her PhD, she can be found on the sidewalks and trails of London trying to set a new running PR or with her young family, counting the minutes until bedtime restores peace in the household.

 

Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship

Manvir Ahluwalia

Graduate Student Assistant

Mani is a Master’s student in Health Promotion at Western University. Mani’s master’s research focuses on the relationship between Ontario undergraduate university students’ levels of resilience and their experiences of diversity and inclusion. Mani completed her BHSc (Honours Specialization in Health Sciences with Biology) at Western University in 2022, and will begin her PhD in Health Promotion at Western this Fall. Mani's PhD research will focus on supporting the mental well-being of international students in Canadian universities. In the Child Health and Physical Activity Laboratory, Mani is working as a Graduate Student Assistant to lead recruitment and data collection for a just-in-time intervention to promote moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and reduce sedentary time in stay-at-home parents and their young children. In her free time, Mani enjoys reading, baking, and group fitness.

Kyra Hollins

Master's Candidate

Kyra is a Master’s student in the Health Promotion stream of the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program as Western University. Prior to attending Western University, Kyra completed a Bachelor of Kinesiology (Honours) at Brock University in 2024, as well as a Health, Wellness and Fitness Diploma at Mohawk College in 2019. Her research is focused on the second phase of the ME & YOU study; where parental perspectives of educational resources regarding positive movement behaviours for young children will be analyzed in order to support their knowledge and self-efficacy in promoting such behaviours. Aside from this project, Kyra’s research interests generally span over childhood physical activity promotion and overall child wellbeing. When not in her student role, Kyra takes on the motherhood role with her young daughter who always keeps her going! In her remaining spare time, Kyra enjoys reading, walking, spending time with friends and baking.

Alexandra Puchiele

Research Assistant

Alex is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Western University, pursuing an Honours Specialization in Interdisciplinary Medical Science. She is interested in exploring the correlation between physical activity and the emotional development of children. Particularly, she aims to understand the relationship between movement behaviours in young children and their ability to regulate distressing emotions. Alex is passionate about advancing her knowledge on how certain movement patterns impact the physical and emotional well-being of young children, and is inspired to continue contributing to research in this field with the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab. Outside of academics, Alex enjoys traveling, exploring the outdoors, reading, going to the gym, and spending time with her friends and family. 

Aidan Loh

Research Assistant

Aidan is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Western University working towards an Honours Specialization in Clinical Kinesiology. Aidan completed an independent study with the lab investigating the fundamental movement skills of children via the TGMD-3. Additionally, he manages the KT initiatives (e.g., creating infographics, social media posts, and a research summary video) for the TEACH study, and he was recently recognized as a Top 25 Finalist in the SSHRC Storytellers competition for this work. 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. 

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Connor Yu

Independent Study Student 

Connor is a 4th-year undergraduate student who is completing his Honours Specialization in Health Sciences at Western University. With a solid academic foundation and a keen interest in physical activity, nutrition, and health promotion, Connor strives to make a positive impact in the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab through his independent study project. The project involves reviewing the scientific literature surrounding educational interventions for parents of young children pertaining to physical activity, nutrition, and sleep. Connor was also involved in the data extraction for a project with a Cochrane Review on the interventions to prevent obesity in children aged 2 to 4 years old. Connor enjoys training in the gym, rock climbing, cooking, and watching action movies. 

USRI Student 

 

Sheri is a fifth-year student pursuing an Honours Double Major in Anatomy and Cell Biology and Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences. She has dedicated recent years exploring various healthcare settings including emergency medicine and chronic care to develop a holistic comprehension of health’s impact on quality of life. Engaging with diverse healthcare professionals has enriched her perspective on patient-care and re-directed her career interests towards occupational therapy (OT). She is particularly passionate about serving vulnerable children as evident in her recent volunteer role as a paediatric OT Assistant. Within her interactions with children, she demonstrates a deep appreciation for creativity, a trait rooted in her upbringing in the arts, and strives to nurture safe spaces for exploration during active play. Having witnessed the benefits of physical activity on children with sensory-seeking behaviours and self-regulation difficulties, Sheri aims to assist the Child Health and Physical Activity lab enhance movement-based learning in homes and child-care centres. As she continues to familiarize herself with patient-oriented research, her hope is to further equip herself in becoming a well-rounded healthcare provider.

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Blythe Bender

Research Volunteer

Blythe is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Western University working towards an Honours Specialization in Rehabilitation Science. She is interested in the relationship between physical activity, executive function, and the growth of neural networks in the developing minds of children. Blythe hopes to explore how physical activity triggers various neurological events in children. Outside of academics, Blythe volunteers several times a week at a long-term care home, specifically contributing to their Physical Active Living Program. By developing and implementing individualized physical activity programs for older adults, she has seen first hand the pivotal role physical activity plays in promoting well-being among the older population. This experience has inspired her to extend her advocacy to children. Blythe hopes to apply the knowledge she learns in the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab to create a profound and positive change in her community. In Blythe’s free time she enjoys travelling, yoga, and playing tennis. 

Research Volunteer

Tyler is a second year undergraduate student working towards an honours specialization in Physiology and Pharmacology. He is interested in the implementation of physical activity in early childhood settings to promote healthy habits and support the overall well being of young children. While working as both a childhood educator and coach for kids learning sports, he has seen first hand the benefits of physical activity on the mental and physical health of children. Tyler has also participated in various sports throughout his childhood, so he is also able to understand the kind of impact sports and an active lifestyle can have on all aspects of life. Through his work with the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab, he hopes to ensure an active and healthy lifestyle for all the children in the community around him. Outside of academics, Tyler enjoys travelling, playing tennis and swimming.

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Fiona (Ziyan) Fan

Research Volunteer

Fiona is a second-year undergraduate student at Western University, pursuing an Honours Specialization in Psychology. She is fascinated by the interaction between the formation and manifestation of psychopathology and the execution of physical activity in young children during their developmental milestones. Fiona is driven by a desire to understand how the minds and bodies of children interact, contributing to early-onset psychopathology in childhood. She aspires to become a child clinical psychologist, developing effective interventions to enhance children's health. Outside the classroom, Fiona enjoys visiting museums and theatres and exploring various cafes. She is thrilled to be a part of the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab, eager to learn from and contribute to its exceptional work, and to form meaningful connections with the team.

Research Volunteer

Melissa is a third-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Western Ontario pursuing an Honours Specialization in Health Sciences with Biology and a Minor in Medical Sciences. As an individual who grew up with a physically active lifestyle, Melissa is interested in how early childhood engagement in exercise affects lifelong behaviours and attitudes toward physical activity. Additionally, she is motivated to help bridge the inequitable gap in healthcare that underserved populations are subjected to due to systemic barriers that impede care. Melissa also volunteers with a youth soccer program, teaching children aged four to six about the sport of soccer, focusing on skills, collaboration and confidence. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys playing volleyball and soccer, fishing, listening to true crime podcasts and spending time with loved ones.

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Molly Thomson-Hill

Work Study Student

Molly is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University working towards an Honours Specialization in Rehabilitation Science with a Minor in Psychology. She has dedicated recent years to coordinating and implementing recreational programs for children and youth with disabilities with the goal of fostering meaningful participation. Her passion for ensuring children with disabilities not only have the opportunities to be included but also thrive in the world of physical activity and play have driven her desire to pursue a career in Paediatric Occupational Therapy. Through this journey, Molly aspires to make a significant difference in the lives of countless children, empowering them to reach their fullest potential and experience the joy of an active and healthy lifestyle. Molly is excited to contribute her formal education in Health Science and her love of kids to the lab, and hopes to explore the lasting impact of physical activity on child health and emotional wellbeing.

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Janet Chan

USRI Student 

 

Janet is a third-year undergraduate student at Western University working towards an Honours Specialization in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. A lot of her extracurricular surrounds disabilities whether it be through building friendships with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities or advocating for accessibility-based problems on campus. In addition, she is especially interested in mental health advocacy and promotion, pioneering a mentorship program for underprivileged students at EFA Foundation. Janet aims to learn more about the correlation between physical activity and mental health through on-going research projects at the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab. In her free time, Janet enjoys volunteering at the local cat adoption centre, speed cubing, and being by the lake.

Salma Mayamuud 

Work Study Student

Salma Mayamuud is currently pursuing a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences at Western University. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa in 2022 with an Honours Specialization in Biomedical Science. Salma is intrigued by the impact of physical activity on children, recognizing its role in improving not only their physical health but also contributing to cognitive development and emotional regulation. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, watching thrillers, going on walks, and spending time with her loved ones.

Angelina Davidson

Research Volunteer

Angelina is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University working towards an Honors Specialization in Clinical Kinesiology. As a lifelong athlete with a passion for physical activity, Angelina is intrigued by the potential of early childhood engagement in exercise to support physical health and enhance overall childhood development. She is particularly interested in understanding how such engagement can shape cognitive, emotional, and social development, with a focus on its long-term impact on well-being across the lifespan. Recognizing the interconnectedness of mental and physical health, Angelina is also motivated to explore how early involvement in exercise can mitigate the risk of various mental health conditions and chronic diseases. In her spare time, Angelina enjoys kayaking, hiking, exploring nature and spending time with friends and family.

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