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Queen's University

The Mood Research Lab
People in the Lab


Top Row (Left to Right): Chloe Hudson, Raegan Mazurka, Julian Chiarella, Mateya Dimnik, Dustin Washburn,  Jennifer Gillies,  Kathryn Barton

Bottom Row (Left to Right):  Amanda Shamblaw, Sarah Saperia, Fozzie, Cherie La Rocque, Hailey Ventola 

Not Pictured: Kate Harkness (on sabbatical in San Diego, CA), Jeremy Stewart, Nicole Pun,  Kathleen Xu


Kate Harkness, PhD

B.Sc., (Hon.)  Toronto, 1993
M.S., Oregon, 1995
Ph.D., Oregon, 1998 

Kate Harkness, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Area of research: My primary research focus is the role of stress and early trauma in the etiology and ongoing pathology of major depression in adolescence and adulthood.

My current work focuses on gene-environment interactions that increase the biological and psychosocial sensitivity to stress in major depression.


Mateya Dimnik 

Lab Coordinator

I am responsible for the organization and maintenance of ongoing projects in the lab. I am currently completing the final year of my B.A.H. at Queen's University, majoring in psychology. 


Graduate Students



Cherie La Rocque, Ph.D. Candidate

Area of Research: I am interested in complementary and alternative approaches to the treatment of mental disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders. Specifically, my dissertation is an examination of the antidepressant effects of Bikram yoga and aerobic exercise. Further, I am investigating associated psychological and physiological mechanisms that might underlie the antidepressant effects, including changes in rumination, mindfulness, reactivity to daily hassles, cardiovascular and cortisol reactivity to acute stress, and cardiorespiratory fitness. My dissertation involves collaboration with Dr. Kyra Pyke’s (Queen’s University) Cardiovascular Stress Response Lab.

Raegan Mazurka, Ph.D. Year 1

Area of Research: I am interested in dysregulation of the biological stress response in depression and how this system may be affected by gene-environment interactions. My master’s thesis will be looking at how polymorphisms of the FKBP5 gene in combination with childhood maltreatment may predict the cortisol response to a psychosocial stress task in depressed versus non-depressed adolescents. 



Amanda Shamblaw, M.Sc. Year 1

Area of Research:  I am interested in the social-cognitive development of children whose mothers have experienced depression. For my master's thesis, I will be investigating the relation between maternal depression and children's theory of mind abilities with a focus on whether certain environmental factors, such as mental state talk and affectionate contact, underline this relation.

Jeremy Stewart, Ph.D. Candidate*

Area of research: My broad research interests are in examining the development of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in adolescents from a vulnerability-stress perspective, and in understanding the role that stress plays in the ongoing pathology and treatment of this illness. Recently, my focus has been on a) how individual differences in sensitivity to rejection and social exclusion may heighten risk for the development of MDD following interpersonal rejection and b) how this sensitivity may differentiate depressed adolescents with previous suicide attempts from those without. This work employs a multi-modal approach to assessing rejection and sensitivity to these types of events, including rigorous contextual stress interviews, objective measures of maladaptive interpersonal behaviour and neuroendocrine reactivity to laboratory stressors. Currently, in collaboration with researchers at McLean Hospital, I am working on a project that aims to establish electrophysiological markers of rejection sensitivity in service of developing a more fine-grained understanding of neural diatheses that may be implicated in the development of MDD and associated pathology (e.g., suicidality, self-injury).


*currently completing internship at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School



Dustin Washburn, Ph.D. Year 2

Area of research: My research interests lie in understanding the cognitive mechanisms that underlie the interpersonal dysfunction of depressed individuals.  Specifically, my PhD research will investigate the impact of rumination on an aversive interpersonal behaviour, negative feedback seeking, and how that results in later interpersonal impairment.



Honours Students


Sarah Saperia

Area of research:  I am interested in the social cognitive deficits associated with depression. For my honour’s thesis, I will be examining the dissociation in theory of mind decoding abilities between Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and dysphoria.


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Research Assistants 

Kathryn Barton 

Juilan Chiarella 

Jennifer Gillies

Chloe Hudson 

Nicole Pun

Kathleen Xu

Hailey Ventola 


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000