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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

Sophie is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Child Health & Physical Activity Lab at Western University. Sophie is responsible for the management of the MOvement behaviours and irritaBILITY in early childhood (MOBILITY) study. 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. Sophie joined the lab from the Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) research centre at The University of Cambridge, UK. Outside of work, Sophie enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the gym, being outdoors and reading.

Funding: Children's Health Research Institute

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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 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. 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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4th 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.

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Post-Doctoral Associate and Adjunct Professor

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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.

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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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. 

Work Study 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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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. 

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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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. 

USRI Student

Manahi is a third-year student at Western University working towards a degree in Honors Specialization in BSc Kinesiology. Manahil's journey into the world of research began during her school years when she participated in a science fair project. Her project won a gold medal and received the Alberta's Association of Optometrist Award. This accomplishment sparked her interest in research and ignited a passion for understanding the scientific principles of research. She believes in the power of evidence-based practices to enhance physical performance, prevent injuries, and promote overall well-being. As a result, she has actively engaged in research projects and hopes to make a positive impact in the community. Manahil will be assisting with the Mobility and Act-i-Pass study in our lab. Outside the lab, Manahil actively volunteers as a soccer coach, aiming to instill a love for physical activity and promote a healthy lifestyle among kids. Manahil is also a certified first aid instructor and when she is not immersed in her studies or involved in extracurricular activities, she values quality time spent with her family outdoors and enjoys horseback riding. 

Areej Mir

Research Volunteer

Areej is a 3rd year undergraduate student at Western University working towards an Honors Specialization in Microbiology and Immunology. She is interested in understanding how health behaviors impact mental health in young children. She is an advocate for physical and mental health and would love to promote the health and well-being of young children through the on-going research projects in the Child Health & Physical Activity Laboratory. In addition to various research projects, Areej has been volunteering with L.I.F.E, a program that strives to support youth in expanding their social skills, independence and community engagement. She is very keen to help the youth in her community. In her free time, Areej enjoys walking outdoors, yoga, and spending quality time with her loved ones.

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