Michael Woodford (he/him/his)
Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work
Wilfrid Laurier University 

faculty_social_work_michael_woodfordMichael’s research addresses the social exclusion and inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people, primarily focusing on university students. Much of his research examines the relationship between campus climate, including often-unintentional microaggressions (e.g. “you’re not a real woman” said to a transwoman) and outcomes, such as mental health and academic development. Wanting to foster students’ resilience to the negative effects of discrimination, he also studies the factors that promote strength and wellbeing in the context of adversity; this includes institutional factors, such as campus policies and services for LGBTQ2S+ students.

This project builds on Michael’s previous research on campus climate, which was conducted in the United States while he was a faculty member at the University of Michigan. In 2013, Michael and Kris Renn conducted the National Study of LGBTQ Student Success.


Simon Coulombe (he/him/his)
Assistant Professor, Community Psychology, Faculty of Science
Wilfrid Laurier University 

faculty_science_simon_coulombeGuided by positive psychology and socio-ecological approaches, Simon’s research examines resilience in LGBTQ2S+ individuals and people from other stigmatized communities, exploring how they can achieve wellbeing despite challenges and discrimination. Simon’s work contributes to understanding and reducing inequities faced by communities in stigmatizing circumstances (e.g., LGBTQ2S+ people with mental disorders or disabilities, people living in public housing, etc.) by considering the social and ecological factors that impact their well-being.

Simon’s work supports the empowerment of these communities by ensuring that his research can yield positive impact – for participants, researchers, and practitioners.


Zack Marshall (he/him/his)
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
McGill University 

zach_marshall_0With over 14 years experience in the areas of health and mental health, Zack’s practice has focused on working with sexual and gender minority youth and communities, people labelled with intellectual disabilities, and people who use drugs. Committed to transformative social change, his interdisciplinary program of research explores ethics, engagement, and knowledge synthesis with respect to marginalized and underrepresented communities. 



Kristen Renn (she/them)
Professor of Higher, Adult & Lifelong Education,
Department of Educational Administration College of Education
Michigan State University

Kristen RennKris’ research focuses on the intersection of student success with issues of identity in higher education, including studies of mixed-race identities, LGBTQ2S+ students and leaders of identity-based student organizations. Kris is co-principal investigator of the National Study of LGBTQ Student Success.


Z Nicolazzo (ze/hir)
Assistant Professor, Trans* Studies in Education
Center for the Study of Higher Education
Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice
University of Arizona

Z NicolazzoZ’s research focuses on mapping gender across the college/university contexts, with particular focus on trans* student resilience and kinship building.  Hir specific areas of interest include: gender in higher education, research methodologies, and trans* studies. In particular, Z’s research highlights students’ experiences of the intersections of race, disability, and gender identity.  Z also writes about the use of alternative methodologies, epistemologies, and representations of knowledge.  Z is originally from New Hampshire, and in hir free time, Z enjoys cycling, reading, and spending time with hir 11 year old Westie, Grrtrude Anne. 


Lauren Munro (she/her)
PhD Candidate, Community Psychology,
Faculty of Science, Wilfrid Laurier University.

Lauren Munro headshot croppedLauren is an activist-academic, artist, and writer whose personal and professional life is driven by a commitment to social justice. She has collaborated on various projects related to the health and well-being of LGBTQ2S+ youth, including research focused on microaggressions (with Michael Woodford), sexual health and HIV vulnerability, challenges facing LGBTQ2S+ immigrant and refugee youth, and Gay-Straight Alliances. Lauren strongly believes in the importance of integrating academia and grassroots activism to create projects that push boundaries and challenge the status quo. Beyond her work on LGBTQ2S+ health, Lauren has been involved in projects that cut across a variety of disciplines including Fat Studies, Sexual Health and Reproductive Justice, Mad Studies, the Social Determinants of Health, and Disability Justice.


 Current Research Assistants

Emily Cox (she/her)

image1Emily is a first year Masters student in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research explores the positive mental health experiences of the LGBTQ2S+ community and the self-management strategies these individuals use to promote and maintain their mental health. She is passionate about public education and knowledge translation as a way of promoting safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ2S+ individuals. In her spare time, Emily enjoys spending time with family and friends, crafting, and cuddling her pets.

Kendra Hardy (she/her)

PUZJ8689Kendra is a second year Masters student in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research examines factors that enhance or hinder the social wellbeing of LGBTQ2S+ folks, and she has a particular interest in communicating actionable research for service providers and policy makers through community fact sheets and workshops. Kendra’s work engages a strengths-based approach with the goal of empowering individuals and groups to be well. When not working or volunteering, Kendra can be found exploring cafés, watching re-runs of Friends, and petting any dogs that cross her path.

Milas Hewson (they/them)

unnamedMilas is a fifth-year English undergraduate with a background in science. They are interested in science communication, and making science accessible to the public, and hope to continue this line of study in their graduate studies next year. They have worked with MNRF and with Parks Canada to help share important research and scientific work, and look forward to applying those skills to the Thriving on Campus study. Milas has also presented workshops on trans allyship and the history of trans activism, run educational and social events for LGBTQ+ folks on campus, and been a part of organizing efforts on and off-campus. When they’re not studying, or volunteering, or working one of their numerous jobs, Milas is probably bothering their gecko, watching Netflix, or scrolling through the internet.

Jessica Hutchison (she/her)

Pic for websiteJessica is a PhD student at Wilfrid Laurier University in the Faculty of Social Work. Her research focuses on imprisoned women (it also includes trans-woman and trans-men incarcerated in women’s prisons), specifically the use of strip searching. Jessica is a prison abolitionist who believes in a world without prisons and is an advocate for community-based approaches to addressing complex social issues rather than criminalizing and institutionalizing marginalized groups. Jessica has a B.Sc. in Psychology from Western University and an MA in Community Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys reading, working out, eating good food and spending time with good friends and family.

Rayne Jarvis (they/them)


Rayne is a current Master of Social Work student at Laurier. They have worked extensively within the LGBTQ2SI+ community in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region. They are passionate about the provision of services for queer youth in the region, and gaps within policy that prove crucial to rectify in order to create empowering spaces. You can usually find Rayne preparing a set for their next local queer dance party, or skillfully managing their numerous furry pals.

Shannan Peck (she/her)

45248749_118706262455188_5372287648096321536_nShannan is an undergraduate student in her third year of a BA in Psychology at Laurier. She is interested in implicit social interactions, politics and the social affairs of marginalized communities. She spends much of her time volunteering with advocacy groups and does her best to speak truth into the secular and religious worlds around her. When she isn’t democratically micromanaging her atmosphere, she writes fiction, plays on one of her too many consoles and spends time with her wonderfully (bratty) cat, Miles.

Nicholas Schwabe (he/him)

profile-picture.jpgNicholas is an advanced standing student in Laurier’s Masters of Social Work program. He is originally from Sudbury, where he attended Laurentian University. He is interested in examining the intersection of social justice with LGBTQ2S+ peoples, discourses of mental illness, meaningful participation in work, and the theory of knowledge. Previously, he has been involved with occupational health research, children’s mental health services, and arts-based mindfulness practices. If he’s not reading textbooks or grappling with existential crises, he’s catching Pokémon or baking desserts.

Alicia N Rubel (they/them)

Alicia R Alicia is a recent graduate of the doctoral program in psychology at Brock University. Alicia’s research examines the psychology of social justice, well-being, purpose in life, and human sexuality and relationships. They have been organizing with gender and sexual minorities and other marginalized groups for over a decade. They believe in the importance of knowledge sharing and have provided workshops in a variety of academic and community settings inviting participants to reexamine topics like prejudice and social norms about relationships. Alicia is currently completing a Master of Social Work at Wilfred Laurier University, so that they can go on to develop and provide better mental health services for gender and sexual minorities. Alicia can be found crafting, hula hooping, and expounding on the greatness of cats.

Kirstie Taylor (she/her)

KirstieKirstie is a second year student in the Community Psychology Masters program at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her current research is focused on LGBTQ+ students’ experiences of victimization, and social support, and how that may influence self esteem in high school and university. During her undergrad at Cape Breton University, she conducted an evaluation of a workshop that was implemented to deliver an introduction to LGBTQ+ allyship to some of the university staff. Kirstie has been involved in LGBTQ+ campus groups since high school, as well as other volunteer positions, and is passionate about social justice issues, campus climate, and support for students. In her spare time, Kirstie can be found attending fun events in the area of Kitchener-Waterloo, or watching whatever has caught her fancy online.

Former Research Assistants

Shailagh (Shaiden) Keaney (she/her)

Shaiden Keaney pic by Prestige 1Shaiden’s deep commitment to social change, intergenerational healing and community well-being is the source of what initially drew her to this research. Queer at heart, Shaiden is drawn to politics of representation and hopes to help shape discourses that challenge the status quo. After spending over a decade in social justice movements, Shaiden is beginning to lean into the wisdom of slowing down and healing the worlds that we carry within. She loves dancing, clowning, writing, and spending time in the woods with the infamous canine siblings Sumac and Chico.

Ossian MacEachern (they/them)

john st

Ossian MacEachern is a Master’s student in history at Wilfrid Laurier University. Their current research focuses on Renaissance constructions of masculinity through the body. In particular, Ossian is studying the ways bodily harm and “emasculation” in the form of castration, circumcision, or sexually transmitted infections impact the gendered world of Renaissance Europe. They have also done work on the Christian perception of the Jewish body in the Renaissance. Their previous research outside the academy has included work on the links between higher education and the military-industrial complex. When not engaged in research, Ossian is a poet, crafter, and frequent petter of cats.

Alyssa Mervin (she/her)


Alyssa has an HBA degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Social Work. She has focused on strengths-based and resiliency research within education institutions for the past five years. Alyssa is passionate about education being safe, accessible, and inclusive for all. This led her to working with Michael Woodford and his team on  the inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ populations in higher education. She enjoys spending time with her nephews, being a cat mom, reading, playing super Nintendo, and being outdoors.

Monica van Schaik (she/her)


Monica is presently doing her Masters of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. She was first drawn to this project through her continual commitment to social justice in her work and community. Her research interests focus on studying the impact of micro-affirmations and micro-aggressions on the personal narratives of LGBTQ2S+ and disabled individuals. In the corners of time that she is not doing schoolwork, she can be found taking part in community activism, backcountry canoeing, or making delicious food in her kitchen.

Rachel Yavnai (she/her)


Rachel’s interest in storytelling – particularly the way in which personal narratives can empower and convey the multiplicity of human experiences – is what first brought her to this project. Her past work concerning social exclusion, visibility, and identity negotiation among religious and sexual minorities, as well as her advocacy efforts within the Kitchener-Waterloo LGBTQ2SI+ community, has affirmed her dedication to anti-oppression and inclusive policy development. When she’s not reading, Rachel likes writing short stories.