Research Team

The UBC Sexual Health Lab collaborates with physicians at the BC Centre for Sexual Medicine (Rosemary Basson, Miriam Driscoll, Shauna Correia), the Department of Psychiatry (Andrea Grabovac), the Department of Anatomy (Joanne Weinberg) as well as researchers on other university campuses.

Lori A. Brotto, PhD

Director, UBC Sexual Health Laboratory, Canada Research Chair in Women’s Sexual Health
Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, UBC
Executive Director, Women's Health Research Institute
Dr. Brotto completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia (UBC), where her research focused primarily on psychophysiological aspects of sexual arousal in women diagnosed with sexual dysfunctions. Her psychology internship at the University of Washington (UW) specialized in the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for mood, anxiety, substance abuse and psychotic disorders. Following her internship, Dr. Brotto’s Fellowship in Reproductive and Sexual Medicine at UW was mentored by Dr. Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute. As a registered psychologist, Dr. Brotto offers psychological therapy to patients referred from both UBC Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Psychiatry, as well as the BC Cancer Agency. Dr. Brotto also sees private patients. Dr. Brotto has been awarded many scholarships, fellowships and research grants. For a complete list of Dr. Brotto’s credentials, research and funding records, please view her CV below.

Bozena Zdaniuk, PhD

Research Associate
Bozena has a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh (1999), a postdoc from Carnegie Mellon university, and she has held multiple roles as a data analyst, methodologist, research associate, and writer. She is particularly strong at aggregating complex sets of data into usable units for analysis, and she has ushered several projects through to completion and knowledge translation. Working on this team gives her opportunity to pursue her ongoing interest in female sexuality research. 

Kira McNamee

Lab Manager
Kira has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and 10 years of experience in project and team management working on multidisciplinary projects. She has held roles in project management, change management, project coordination, and organizational development. Working on this team gives her opportunity to pursue her interest in women’s health.

Cara Dunkley, MA

Graduate Student
Cara completed her B.A in Honours Psychology at the University of Victoria in 2009. After graduating she worked as a study coordinator in two University- and Hospital-based sexual research laboratories. Cara received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2015. She is currently in her third year of the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology Program at UBC, working under the supervision of Dr. Lori Brotto. Her doctoral program of research examines the association between disordered eating and sexual dysfunction among clinical samples of women with an eating disorder and women with provoked vestibulodynia – a chronic and distressing vulvar pain condition. Additional ongoing research projects focus on the role of attachment style in relation to adult sexuality, as well as mindfulness and alternative sexual practices.   Clinically, Cara works as a group facilitator for the DESIRE program at the UBC Sexual Health Lab. 

Silvain Dang, MA

Graduate Student
Silvain completed his BSc in Psychology in 2011 and his MA in Clinical Psychology in 2014. He is currently working towards his PhD in Clinical Psychology. His research interests include sexual attitudes, paraphilias, attachment style, perfectionism, culture/ethnicity, and the neurobiology of sexual behaviours.

Madison Lackie, BSc

Graduate Student
Madison is a Masters of Science student in the UBC Reproductive and Developmental Sciences program, working primarily out of the Women’s Health Research Institute at BC Women’s Hospital. Her research interests include the effects of major life events on mental health, with a focus on postpartum depression and the effects of parenthood on psychological outcomes. Madison completed her Bachelor of Science with Honours at Queen’s University, specializing in Life Sciences, and is now using this foundational biomedical background to inform her Masters studies, which focus on the development of an online platform for intervention in women with postpartum depression. There is great hope that this tool will also be extended to create specific interventions for Aboriginal populations, as well as potentially new refugee populations and other at-risk cohorts.

Natalie Brown, BA

Graduate Student
Natalie is a first-year MA student in the UBC Clinical Psychology program, working under the supervision of Drs. Lori Brotto and Alan Kingstone. She completed her BA in Psychology at Queen’s University in 2017. After graduating she remained at Queen’s and worked as a research coordinator for the Sexuality and Gender Laboratory, using thermography to explore the sexual responses of women with and without sexual difficulties. Natalie is interested in the cognitive mechanisms underlying sexual attraction and desire, with a specific focus on asexuality and Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder. 

Faith Jabs, BA

Graduate Student
Faith is a MA student in the Clinical Psychology program. She completed her BA in Anthropology in 2014 and a BA in Psychology in 2017. She works as a study coordinator on the DESIRE study examining the efficacy of two kinds of group therapy for women with Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder. She also works on the first study (IMMERSIVE) to look at women’s subjective sexual response and user experience with virtual reality erotica, which may help inform future treatment for women’s sexual concerns. She is interested in how sexual motivation may influence attentional processes to sexual stimuli and the underlying cognitive mechanisms associated with sexual dysfunction in women.

Kelly Smith, PhD

Dr. Kelly Smith completed fellowship training with Dr. Brotto from 2011-15, during which her research focused primarly on the pregnancy and post-partum experiences of women with chronic vulvar pain. Dr. Smith has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Queen’s University and completed fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School prior to joining our lab. Her accomplishments to date include receipt of awards from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Canadian Pain Society during her fellowship training, and receiving the 2016 Nelly Auersperg Award from the Women's Health Research Institute to study the impact of vulvar skin diseases on women's quality of life. Dr. Smith currently works as a Psychologist in the BC Centre for Vulvar Health (BCCVH) and in private practice. She also continues to faciliate therapy groups for studies in our lab. 

Paul Yong, MD, PhD, FRCSC

Dr. Paul Yong is Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Division of Gynaecologic Specialties, and is actively involved in clinical and translational research in endometriosis, pelvic pain, and vulvodynia.  Dr. Yong completed a MD/PhD degree in Experimental Medicine in 2006, followed by a Residency in Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Fellowship in Endometriosis, Pelvic Pain & Advanced Laparoscopy in 2012 at the University of British Columbia. His clinical practice is focused on pelvic pain, with particular interest in endometriosis, vulvodynia, sexual pain, painful periods, co-existing bladder and bowel problems, and pain related to the musculoskeletal system. His surgical interests include laparoscopic excision of endometriosis and prevention of adhesions in women with pelvic pain (+/- infertility).

Morag Yule, PhD

Morag completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2016. Her research interests lie largely in investigating the many different aspects of asexuality, including patterns of sexual attraction and sexual arousal, mental health correlates of asexuality, and factors differentiating asexuality from a sexual dysfunction. Through this research, we hope to better understand the experiences of those who lack sexual attraction in the hopes that this will reduce any stigma that might be associated with asexuality. Clinically, Morag works to help individuals dealing with issues related to sexuality and gender, sexual dysfunction, and a range of anxiety disorders.

Laurel Paterson, PhD, R. Psych.

Dr. Laurel Paterson completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Brotto from 2013-2016, during which they developed and tested two types of group therapy for low sexual desire in women.  This research was supported by fellowship awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.  She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from McGill University and has completed extensive training in sex and couple therapy, as well as cognitive-behavioural and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.  She currently works as a registered psychologist in private practice in Vancouver, focusing on individual and couple therapy for sexual difficulties.  She also continues to facilitate therapy groups for the DESIRE Study and regularly presents workshops in the community on the impact of mental and physical health on sexuality.   

Sonia Milani, BA

Study Coordinator
Sonia obtained her BA in Psychology at the University of British Columbia. She hopes to enroll in a Clinical Psychology graduate program to further pursue her research interests which include sexual health, sexual dysfunction, and intimate relationships. She recently completed a directed studies project that is looking at visual attention to erotic stimuli and impression management in women. Sonia is the study coordinator for the  EYES, TRACE & BRACE studies.

Nikky Kundliwal

Research Coordinator
Nikky recently graduated with an Honours in BSc Psychology from Mount Allison University. Her passion and leadership around advocacy for all forms of diversity, and inclusion, shaped her Honours thesis and she hopes to emphasize minority representation in research – which is exactly why she is thrilled to join Dr. Brotto’s lab that continually strives to create an inclusive environment. Presently, she is the coordinator for the INTROSPPECT Study that is comparing psychological treatment options for sexual health and couple intimacy following prostate cancer. In the future, Nikky hopes to become a mental health practitioner.

Julia O'Loughlin, MA, RCC

Study Coordinator
Julia received her BA (Hons) in Women's Studies from the University of Victoria in 2006 and her MA in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2016. She is currently in the PhD Counselling Psychology program at UBC. Julia coordinated the study “Mood, Stress, and Sexual Desire in Women” (MODEST) and contributes to the DESIRE study as a clinical interviewer and group facilitator. She is also a co-investigator and group facilitator on the INTROSSPECT study. Julia's research projects focus on identifying physiological and psychosocial contributors to women's sexual interest and arousal difficulties and improving intimacy between couples post-prostate cancer treatment.

Shannon Woo

Research Coordinator
Shannon recently moved from London, England after completing a MSc Health Psychology at City University of London. She completed a research study on how people evaluate the acceptability of a treatment. She also worked as a researcher and clinic manager of an osteopathic clinic and research centre which reported on various patient reported outcome measures including psychosocial measures of wellbeing. She plans to continue training in clinical and counselling psychology. Shannon joined the team in January 2020 as a Research Coordinator for the BREAST study, a randomized clinical trial assessing psychosocial interventions for survivors of breast cancer who experience sexual difficulties following cancer treatment. This project is a collaboration between the UBC Sexual Health Lab (UBCSHL) and the Tom Baker Cancer Agency (Calgary).

Brynn Lavery, BA

Social Media and Participant Recruitment Coordinator
Brynn is a 2017 BA Psychology graduate from UBC with a minor in Critical Studies in Sexuality. Passionate about the field of sexual health, she volunteers with Options for Sexual Health on their Community Relations team, with BLUSH (Bold Learning for Understanding Sexual Health) as a Youth Educator, and in the past as a research assistant in the UBC Sexuality Lab. Brynn is the Social Media and Participant Recruitment Coordinator for the lab and runs their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages and is also a research assistant on the DESIRE and SUPPORT studies. Her research interests include sexual education, women's sexual disorders, and paraphilias.

Maggie Bryce, BA

Research Assistant
Maggie Bryce has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from UBC. She is a youth educator with Vancouver Coastal Health’s BLUSH (Bold Learning for Understanding Sexual Health) program, which brings sexual health workshops to high schools around Vancouver. Maggie is working on a number of studies in the lab related to female sexual health, dysfunction, and cervical cancer prevention. She recently completed a directed studies project regarding female genital self-image, and partner perceptions of the vulva, and is the research assistant for the SAFE study.

Natasha Zippan

Research Assistant
Natasha is an undergraduate psychology major at the University of British Columbia. She is working toward a PhD in psychology with the view to becoming a clinical and research psychologist in the area of sexology. Her clinical interests are sexual and developmental psychopathology, including hypersexuality, disordered attachment, childhood sexual abuse, paraphilias, and sexual orientation. She is the coordinator of the EXCITE study, researching the usability of taking mindfulness and CBT-based treatments for female sexual dysfunction online.

Alyssa Greco

Alyssa is currently a student at SFU studying psychology.  She very much enjoys stepping into new environments and learning new things, which is why she is very appreciative of her time at the UBC sexual health laboratory, where she can learn and explore something new every time she comes in.  In the future, Alyssa is interested in perusing a career in the field of psychology.     

Sarah Lillemo

Sarah is currently in her last year of her Bachelor of Psychology degree at UBC and will be graduating in May. Sarah’s long-term goal is to pursue graduate studies in clinical psychology focusing on women’s sexual health. She is particularly interested in the role anxiety plays in desire, as well as, rural access to sexual and mental health services and the impact low population rates have on the willingness to access these services. In the Sexual Health Lab she is currently helping out with the EYES study.

Amy Antonsen

Amy is an undergraduate student at UBC looking to enter the health sciences. She has a particular interest in sociopolitical attitudes, policies and practices relating to sexuality, gender, race, and equality, with a focus on their roles in the healthcare system. She plans to pursue graduate studies in this area. She is currently investigating the romantic-aromantic spectrum among asexual individuals.

Ellen Dipple

Ellen is an undergraduate psychology student currently attending the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include sexual interest and arousal, especially in relation to mood disorders, chronic stress, and different approaches to sexual education. At present, she is a volunteer for the EYES study. She plans to one day continue her education in either a social or clinical psychology graduate program.

Brett Makarenko, BSc

Brett recently completed her BSc in Biology with a minor in Psychology at the University of British Columbia in 2017. She is a Crisis Line and Educational Outreach Volunteer for WAVAW (Women Against Violence Against Women), where she provides anti-oppressive emotional support to survivors of sexualized violence. Her research interests include psychophysiological manifestations of sexual dysfunctions, long-term effects of sexualized violence against women, and improving sex education. She is working towards being accepted into a Clinical Psychology graduate program in order to pursue her interests of human sexuality. 

Isha Rajvanshi

Isha is an undergraduate psychology student at the University of British Columbia. She is interested in research topics such as sexual dysfunction, its relation to mental health, and asexuality. She believes that mental health and sexuality are intertwined which is why she is passionate about volunteering in the lab. She hopes to continue on to graduate school to pursue a career in Counseling Psychology. Currently, she is working as a volunteer on the DESIRE study.

Julia Bradshaw, BMus

Julia Bradshaw previously received her Bachelor of Music in Voice from McGill University and is currently pursuing a second degree in psychology at UBC with the goal of entering a PhD program in clinical psychology. She has also previously volunteered with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter. Julia is working on the IMMERSIVE and SPACE studies, for which she assists with patient recruitment, intake, and communications. Her research interests include sexual pain disorders, sexual attraction and desire, Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder, and personality disorders. 

Smruthi Ramachandran, Bsc

Smruthi is a 2019 graduate from the University of British Columbia with a BSc in Biology and a minor in Psychology. She is currently involved with the data cleaning and analysis of the PRECIOUS study. Her interests include using a comprehensive approach to consider the relationship between physiological and psychological factors in healthcare such as women’s sexual health and mental wellbeing. She is also very interested in nutrition and fitness and plans to continue exploring these themes in graduate school. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career as a clinician scientist where these topics can be further applied. 

Nikola Pokorná

Nikola is an undergraduate psychology student currently on an exchange at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include female sexual dysfunctions, especially in relation to mental health and anxiety, attachment style, and improving sex education. Nikola is currently a volunteer for a study of asexuality and digit ratio. She hopes to be accepted into a Clinical Psychology graduate program and to pursue her research interest in sexual health.