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Queen's University

Stress, Neurodevelopment & Emotions Lab

Research Team

Linda Booij

Linda Booij, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator


I obtained my Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology in 2005 at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where I studied the effects of Acute Tryptophan Depletion on symptoms and cognition in depressed patients. In 2005, I relocated to the Department of Psychiatry of McGill University, where I worked as a postdoctoral research fellow under the supervision of Dr. Chawki Benkelfat. The overarching theme of my projects was the characterization of the genetic and monoaminergic correlates of mood and impulse control disorders, using PET imaging in combination with compounds that permit the visualization of monoamines in the human brain. Since 2013, I am an assistant professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry of Queen’s University. I am also a researcher at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre and a member of the clinical research unit on children’s psychosocial maladjustment (GRIP) (since 2009). My main research focuses on the impact of gene by early environment interactions on brain development, DNA methylation processes, monoamines, and risk for maladaptive behaviours and cognitions. I am a holder of a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


Lyndall Schumann

Lyndall Schumann, M.Sc


I am a second-year PhD student at Queen’s University. I hold a Master of Science degree in clinical psychology from Queen’s University (’12), and a combined honours Bachelor of Arts and Science and Psychology from McMaster University (’09). I am currently working on projects investigating the role of the serotonin system in vulnerability to and treatment for depression in youth, and potential underlying DNA methylation processes. I am supported by a CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral Award).

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Katherine Bailey, M.Sc

I am a first year Ph.D. student in the Queens-Trent Developmental Psychology program. I hold a Master of Arts degree in psychology from Trent University ('13). I hold an honours Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a minor in Sociology and an Emphasis in Education from Trent University ('11). While I have numerous research interests, I am particularly interested in the development of social cognitive skills in children with atypical development. I am currently working on a project that examines language, executive functioning and social cognition in children with epilepsy. In the Stress, Neurodevelopment and Emotions Laboratory (SNEL), I am working as a research assistant on the MIREC study, a longitudinal study about (neuro)development in young children. I hold a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral Award).

Julian Chiarella

Julian Chiarella


I am a fourth-year student at Queen`s University who is working in the lab as part of my honours thesis project.  I am majoring in psychology and minoring in life sciences and I am interested primarily in the biological basis of psychiatric disorders.  I will be working on projects investigating the role DNA methylation in human (abnormal) behavioral-cognitive processes and brain function.

Sarah Goegan

Sarah Goegan


I am a fourth year Psychology student doing my honor’s thesis under the supervision of Dr. Booij. For my thesis, I am working on a project on peer victimization. In the lab, I am also a research assistant for the MIREC study, a longitudinal multi-site research project examining the impact of prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals on the neurodevelopment of toddlers. 

Jennifer Gillies

Jennifer Gillies

I am in my final year of a BAH in psychology at Queen’s University. This past April (’13), I completed my honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Kate Harkness; my thesis investigated the associations among parental history of depression, parenting style, and clinical profile in depressed adolescents and young adults. I am completing a directed lab course and working as a research assistant on a project investigating the role of DNA methylation in depression.

Bianca Zuccarini

Bianca  Zuccarini


I am an undergraduate student at Queen’s University working on completing my Honours degree in both Biology and Psychology (BSCH SSP). In my second year I started working as a Research Assistant in Linda Booij’s Laboratory. I have worked on two lab projects so far related to the role of certain serotonin genes in psychopathology. I have a background in both Biology and Psychology, and a growing interest in epigenetics and the role it plays. I am excited to take part in upcoming projects and gain exposure to new learning opportunities.

Yu Qing Liu

Yu Qing Liu


I am in my final year of a BSCH degree in psychology and I hope to pursue graduate studies in the future. I am interested in neuroscience and forensic psychology and I'm always looking for opportunities to learn more about them. As a research assistant in the SNEL lab, I am helping out in two neuro-imaging projects: one related to depression in youth and another one in relation to peer victimization.

Students outside Queen's University

Melissa Levesque Melissa Levesque, M.Sc

I first completed my Bachelor of Science with honours in Psychology at McGill University in 2005. Following graduation, I worked as a research assistant for Debbie Moskowitz, Dept. of Psychology, McGill University. I then completed a Master of Science degree in Neuroscience at McGill University (2007-2010), under the joint supervision of Chawki Benkelfat and Laurent Descarries, studying the function of the serotonin 1A receptor following acute fluoxetine administration using PET in both humans and rats. Since 2010, I am currently completing my PhD in the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Montreal, under the joint supervision of Linda Booij and Richard Tremblay, funded by FRQ-S and the Sainte-Justine and Stars Fondations, investigating the impact of prenatal and early post-natal adversity on brain development, gene expression and vulnerability for mental health disorders. My specific research interests lie in biological vulnerability for mental health disorders in general, from a multimodal, multidisciplinary perspective. I aim to both identify various biomarkers of vulnerability prior to the onset of clinically significant mental health disorders, and explain the development of these biomarkers of vulnerability.
Elmira Ismaylova Elmira Ismaylova , M.Sc

I completed my BSc in Psychology at McGill University. I have completed my Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences option Psychiatry in University of Montreal, investigating the impact of early life stressors on adolescent brain structure and the role of the underlying epigenetic mechanisms. I am currently a PhD student and examine the impact of early stress on brain function in adulthood in a healthy adult longitudinal community sample.

Marie-Pier Verner Marie-Pier Verner, B.Sc

I joined Linda Booij’s lab in 2012 to work as a research assistant on various projects aimed to investigate and understand the influences of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors on adolescent development. Since 2013, I am a Master’s student in Biomedical Science option Psychiatry at University of Montreal. My research project focuses on how early life stress could affect brain function and stress sensitivity later in life.
Victoria Ly Victoria Ly, B.Sc

I joined the collaborating labs of Linda Booij and Moshe Szyf first as a research assistant, and then as a lab student, as part of my undergraduate studies in Neuroscience at McGill. After completing a BSc, I continued in pursuit of an M.Sc degree through the Integrated Program in Neuroscience. I work on the epigenetic analyses of twins and other cohorts, which are being linked to brain function and development, as well as cell population effects on methylation signals.  I am interested in the interaction between environment and (epi)genetics and effects on the brain, cognition, and behaviour.
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Kevin Casey


I am currently a post-doctoral fellow at CHU-Sainte Justine. During my graduate degrees I used PET and MRI neuroimaging, as well as dopamine precursor depletion, to study the relationships between dopamine, and drug taking behaviour in humans, with a particular focus on familial transmission of liability to addiction. In my post-doctoral work I am studying the effects of early-life adversity on brain development and function in twins using advanced neuroimaging methods (structural MRI, fMRI, DTI, resting state connectivity). I am also studying epigenetic variation between these twins in hopes of relating differences in the brain to alterations in DNA methylation. In a supplementary line of research I am studying brain activation patterns in depressed adolescents using SPECT, our goal is to distinguish a first episode of bipolar depression from unipolar depression.

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Michèle-Andrée Savoie


Michèle-Andrée's biography and photo are still to come.


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000