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

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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

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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, BBA

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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.

Elizabeth Mahar, PhD

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Postdoctoral Fellow
Liz completed her PhD in social psychology at the University of Florida in 2021. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2013 with her BSc, double majoring in neuroscience and psychology. She received her MSc in experimental psychology at Villanova University in 2016. Her research focuses on romantic and sexual relationships, human sexuality, and well-being. Liz is a postdoctoral fellow, under the supervision of Drs. Lori Brotto and Kyle Stephenson. She is a co-lead on the eSense study; this project aims to improve access to treatment options for female sexual dysfunction.

Graduate Students

Natalie Brown, MA

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Graduate Student
Natalie is a second-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. Natalie's MA thesis explores the cognitive mechanisms underlying sexual attraction and desire, with a specific focus on asexuality and Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder. She is also involved with IMMERSIVE, a study investigating women's subjective sexual responses to virtual reality erotica, and she plans to evaluate virtual reality as a clinical tool for women with genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder (GPPPD) in her PhD. Natalie is involved with the COVERS study, which investigates the short- and long-term impacts of COVID-19 related social changes on sexual and reproductive health. Overall, her research program aims to improve our understanding of sexual difficulties and develop evidence-based interventions for individuals with distressing sexual concerns.

Faith Jabs, MA

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Graduate Student
Faith is a MA student in the Clinical Psychology program at UBC. She completed her BA in Anthropology in 2014 and a BA in Psychology in 2017. Her master’s research, the APPROACH study examines how sexual motivation influences sexual wellbeing and attentional processes to sexual stimuli. She is a co-investigator on the IMMERSIVE study, which examines women’s subjective sexual response and user experience with virtual reality erotica, which may help inform future treatment for women’s sexual concerns. Faith is also a co-investigator on the COVERS study, which examines the short- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 social distancing measures on sexual health, motivations for sex, and sexual coercion. She also works as a study coordinator on the DESIRE study that examines the efficacy of two kinds of group therapy for women with Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder.

Claire Lawrence

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Graduate Student
Claire is a first-year MSc student in the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences program at UBC. She previously completed her BHSc at McMaster University in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) program. At McMaster, Claire was involved in several clinical research projects in the field of perinatal mental health. As an MSc Student at UBC she will continue to apply her interest in this field by working on the SUPPORT study, which seeks to develop and evaluate a safe and effective web-based resource for postpartum depression and anxiety. As part of the Sexual Health Laboratory, Claire looks forward to contributing to research projects that have real-life impacts on women in their everyday lives.

Research Coordinators and Assistants

Raveena Gowda

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Study Coordinator
Raveena completed her Bachelor of Science (double major in Biology and Psychology) at the University of British Columbia in 2022. She is the research coordinator of the eSense study, a randomized clinical trial assessing two online psychological interventions for treating sexual difficulties amongst women. Her research interests include understanding how biological and sociocultural factors impact the development of sexuality and sexual dysfunction. In the future, she wants to pursue the MD/PhD program in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology.

Shannon Woo

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Study 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).

Jennifer Zhang

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Study Coordinator
Jennifer is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia studying kinesiology. She is the research coordinator for the JUNIPER study investigating early neurocorrelates of sexual response in women with and without sexual interest/arousal disorder. She is also a directed studies student on the COVERS study. Her research interests include women's health, rurality, and harm reduction. She is hoping to pursue a career as a clinician-investigator in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology.

Brynn Lavery, BA

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Communications Assistant
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.

Volunteers

Alyssa Greco

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Volunteer
Alyssa recently graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2021 completing her Bachelor of Arts with a major in psychology and a minor in counselling and human development. Alyssa's interests lie in the field of sexual health and supporting women who have experienced domestic violence. In addition to her volunteer work at the lab, Alyssa volunteers at the Domestic Abuse Services helpline and works in a transition house for women feeling violence. Alyssa is currently involved in the eSense study at the lab and has stepped into a role as a navigator. Her time at the UBC Sexual Health Lab has led Alyssa to working towards a career in counselling, with a focus on women's sexual health.    

Brett Makarenko, BSc

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Research Assistant
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. 

Yana Svatko

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Volunteer
Yana completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Honours) at the University of British Columbia in 2019. Yana has been with the lab since 2016, where she completed her first honours thesis on Emotional Intelligence and Sexuality and later become the coordinator on a series of studies investigating sexual concerns and disordered eating. Yana’s research interests include the psychophysiological processes that can promote or impair sexual response, the impact of body image and cognitive distractions on sexual function, and the mechanisms behind attraction.  Yana is currently involved with the eSense project as a navigator. 

Denise Zhu

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Volunteer
Denise is an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia. As a volunteer for the BRACE study, she is extremely excited to contribute to stimulating and fascinating work, while learning and developing research skills. She hopes to spend her time at the UBCSHR Lab delving deeper into the world of sexual health and to explore varying topics of research.

Kirkland Halliday

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Volunteer
Kirkland is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in Psychology. Her involvement in the lab has to do with the EXCITE study. Once completing her degree, Kirkland hopes to pursue a career in health sciences, where her knowledge about the human body and inner workings of the brain will compliment one another. 

Wyatt Fitzgerald

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Volunteer
Wyatt is currently an undergraduate student at UBC majoring in Behavioural Neuroscience. Passionate about sexual and mental well-being, Wyatt also volunteers with the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. Wyatt is beyond excited to be a part of the UBC sexual health laboratory team as he is particularly motivated to help bridge the gap between healthcare, sexual healthcare, and mental healthcare.

Lakshmi Menon

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Volunteer
Lakshmi is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Food, Nutrition and Health. She is currently involved in the BREAST study at the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory. Hoping to pursue a career in the medical field in the future, her research interests include psychiatry, identifying effective methods to de-stigmatize members pertaining to sexual health and ways to improve access to unbiased sexual health information across various cultural communities.

Britney Ha

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Volunteer
Britney completed her Bachelor in Kinesiology, with a minor in Psychology at the University of British Columbia in 2021. Her current research interests include the psychophysiological manifestations of sexual dysfunctions, relationship between biopsychosocial factors within the healthcare setting, and de-stigmatization of sexual disorders. Passionate about physical and mental health, she is excited to explore the field of clinical psychology as part of the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory Team. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in medicine.

Patricia Melgar

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Volunteer
Patricia is an undergraduate kinesiology student at the University of British Columbia. Driven by her passion for sexual healthcare and education, she is ecstatic to be volunteering with the SEQUOIA-PC study. Patricia's research interests include sexual quality of life, physiology, and LGBTQIA+ representation in research.

Lena Deschner

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Volunteer
Lena is an undergraduate psychology major, critical studies minor interested in addressing sexual shame and guilt, social barriers to pleasurable experiences and alternative methods of embracing sexuality such as through sensual dance. In 2019, after 2 gap years, she transferred from the UVIC Philosophy and Applied Ethics program to continue her studies in psychology and sexuality here at UBC. Lena plans to apply for a graduate program in clinical psychology in the hopes to combine education and clinical work in her future. 

Shahrazad Amin

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Volunteer
Shahrazad is a third year Integrated Science student majoring in Neuroscience and Physiology. She is currently working on VIVID, investigating the use of VR exposure therapy as a potential treatment for vaginismus. She is also a research assistant with the Psychopathology Lifespan and Neuropsychology (PLAN) Lab at UBCO, investigating body image dissatisfaction in Asian individuals. Her research interests include neuropsychology, virtual reality, eating disorders, and the physical manifestations of psychological disorders. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career as a clinician. Shahrazad is excited to develop her research skills with the UBC SHR team.

Judy Song

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Volunteer
Judy graduated from UBC with a BSc in Nutritional Sciences and is currently studying medicine at UBC. She is involved in the lab as a patient navigator for the eSense study. In the future, Judy hopes to go into family medicine with a focus on women's health. 

Elena Zettelmeyer

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Volunteer
Elena is a 4th year psychology major interested in how stigma and misconceptions around sexual health and sexuality impact relationships, self-esteem and overall mental health. She is currently working as a volunteer on the eSense study where she guides participants through online material. This involves psychoeducation and exercises that aim to alleviate their sexual difficulties. She will soon start her directed studies project with the lab for the winter term of 2022/23, and hopes to continue getting involved with sexual health research in the future.

Angelina Hollihn

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Volunteer
Angelina is a 3rd year UBC psychology and health & society student. She is currently involved in the SUPPORT study, which aims to develop a an accessible, web-based resource for postpartum depression and anxiety.

Jasmin Batth

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Volunteer
Jasmin is currently a second-year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, majoring in psychology. She is a navigator with the eSense project at the Sexual Health Lab. Interested particularly in health psychology, she is motivated to explore interactions between different biological, psychological, and social factors in women’s sexual health.

Preet Kang

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Volunteer
Preet is involved in the lab as a patient navigator for the eSense study. 

Isabel Roberston

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Volunteer
Isabel graduated from McGill University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She is passionate about the fields of sexual health and anti-violence, and is currently a crisis line volunteer with WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre where she supports survivors of sexual assault. She is currently involved in the FSIAD measure validation project. Isabel’s research interests include the sexual wellbeing of survivors of sexual assault and treatments for sexual pain. In the future, Isabel hopes to pursue a career in counselling.

Stephanie Chen

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Volunteer
Stephanie is in her third year at the University of British Columbia majoring in Psychology. Passionate about sexual health and education, Stephanie volunteers as a Youth Sex Educator at Vancouver Coastal Health’s BLUSH program. She is also a research assistant at the Sexuality and Well-Being (SWell) Lab. Her research interests include sexual dysfunctions, individuals’ and couples’ sexual well-being, sexual and romantic relationships, and paraphilias. In the future, Stephanie hopes to pursue graduate studies in clinical psychology and a career as a clinician-scientist.

Sanjam Suri

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Volunteer
Sanjam is a fourth year undergraduate student pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Health and Society from the University of British Columbia. She is currently volunteering for the eSense project, a clinical trial assessing treatment interventions for female sexual dysfunction. She also aims to pursue a masters degree and career in clinical psychology.

Niki Marriott

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NSERC USRA Summer Student
Niki recently completed her BSc in Medical Sciences at Dalhousie University and will be entering the Master of Occupational Therapy program at UBC in the fall. At Dalhousie, she was involved in various research projects, including investigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on parental mental health. In addition to her research interests, Niki volunteers as a team lead with Shelter Movers, where she helps survivors of gender-based violence transition into safer accommodations. As an NSERC USRA student this summer, Niki will work primarily on the BRACE study at the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory.

Sara Cole

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Directed Studies Student
Sara is completing her BA in psychology at the University of British Columbia with the hopes of pursuing Clinical Psychology in the sexual health research field. Her other research interests include intimate relationships, stress, and coping. Sara is currently involved as a navigator in the eSense study and is excited about all the learning opportunities that come with being part of the team.

Gloria Klein

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Volunteer
Gloria is a second year student in the faculty of science at the University of British Columbia studying behavioural neuroscience. She is volunteering as a navigator for the eSense project at the Sexual Health Lab. In the future, she hopes to either pursue further research in the field of sexual health or go to school for medicine and become an OBGYN. 

Zahrah Khan

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Volunteer
Zahrah is a third-year behavioural neuroscience student at the University of British Columbia. She is interested in investigating the societal factors that have contributed to the stigma behind sexuality, and is passionate about overcoming those barriers to allow for a more sex-positive outlook. In addition to this, she wants to learn more about clinical psychology and is excited to volunteer as a navigator for the eSense project. 

Sophia Zhu

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Volunteer
Sophia is a 3rd-year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education. She is interested in how individual differences and personal factors can act as possible barriers for women to seek help or express concerns regarding levels of sexual desire. As a volunteer for the eSense project, she is excited to learn more about how CBT and MBT are incorporated into sexual health research. Sophia is also a research assistant at the Health and Adult Development Lab. In the future, she hopes to enter graduate school in counselling psychology.

Elsie Wang

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WorkLearn student
Elsie is in year 4 of her BSc in the Integrated Sciences program, focusing on Microbiology and Genomics at University of British Columbia. For her summer project, she is supporting the eSense platform to improve access to treatment options for female sexual dysfunction. Over the last two years, she has worked closely with various digital health technologies to support populations across BC with various cultural, socioeconomic, and health backgrounds. These projects aimed to support patients to manage chronic disease, access culturally sensitive and timely care, and also advanced telemedicine for healthcare providers in rural, remote locations. Elsie is extremely passionate to continue to support development of digital health solutions for Canadians and aspire to become a clinician-scientist in the future.

Micah Hall

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Volunteer
Micah is in her final year of study at the University of British Columbia majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in Psychology. She is interested in de-stigmatizing sex and sexuality, and improving access to fun and comprehensive sex education. Her research interests include pelvic floor pain and dysfunction and how this might contribute to individuals' sexual experiences. Micah is passionate about women’s empowerment initiatives and hopes to pursue a career in medicine or physiotherapy. She is excited to develop her research skills by volunteering at the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory.