Our Research Team


headshot of Edward P. Rawana, director of CERPYD

Edward P. Rawana, Ph.D., C. Psych.


Spanning over four decades, Dr. Edward Rawana’s career in psychology has been a continuous and colourful journey toward the subject he is most passionate about: strengths. He is highly active in exploring and promoting the assessment of psychological strengths and incorporating this information into practical methods that address issues of education, addiction, and mental health. Read more about Dr. Edward Rawana


Dr. Keith Brownlee, Ph.D.

Director of Research

Dr. Brownlee is a professor in the School of Social Work at Lakehead University. He teaches courses on clinical practice and research and statistics. Dr. Brownlee is known internationally for his work on Northern Social Work practice. He has published nine edited books on Northern Social Work practice as well as over a hundred chapters and journal articles about the practice of social work, family therapy and strength based clinical work. Read more about Dr. Keith Brownlee


Dr. Andrew Friesen, Ph.D.

Psychology & Kinesiology - Lakehead University

Andrew completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wolverhampton in England, specializing in sports psychology and emotion regulation. He holds a Masters of Arts in kinesiology (University of Ottawa) and a Bachelor of Arts (University of Winnipeg) in psychology and kinesiology & applied health. Previously, he was a member of the Emotion Regulation of Others and Self research group. He is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship in England. Andrew is an applied practitioner having provided mental training with Hockey Canada, BaseballSoftballUK, and the Canadian National Sports Centres.

Associate Researchers

Headshot of Dr. Josephine Tan

Dr. Josephine Tan, Ph.D., C. Psych

Psychology – Lakehead University

Dr. Josephine Tan is a Clinical Psychology faculty member at Lakehead University. She was one of the researchers with the original Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs when it was funded in 2000. She worked on the Centre's Mental Health Task Force with the Government of Nunavut and the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line (NKHL) to assess the use of the help line. Her work on suicide among Inuit continues to this day with the objective of promoting our understanding of historical and sociocultural issues to inform effective suicide prevention efforts, and integrating western and Indigenous intervention models of mental health. Her other research activities include mental health and well-being and resilience among university students and refugees within the context of gender and culture.


Dr. Brian Ross, Ph.D.

Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Dr. Brian Ross received his training in biochemistry and neuropharmacology from the University of Glasgow in the UK. He then moved to Toronto as a research fellow at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health, later working as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. After working to establish a mental health research unit at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness, UK, he became a founding faculty member of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine at Lakehead University's Thunder Bay campus, where he is also a member of the Masters of Public Health Program faculty and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Biology. His research interests focus on the role of lifestyle factors, particularly nutrition, in maintaining good mental health as well as in understanding the molecular basis of behaviour.


Dr. Jennine Rawana, Ph.D., C.Psych.

Psychology – York University

Dr. Rawana completed her PhD from Lakehead University and a postdoctoral fellowship in Adolescent Mental Health Promotion and Prevention at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Centre for Prevention Science. She is currently an associate professor in the Clinical Developmental Program in the Department of Psychology at York University. She is also a member of the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research at York University and a supervising psychologist at the newly-formed York University Psychology Clinic. Dr. Rawana has broad research, clinical, and teaching interests in child and adolescent psychology. Specifically, her research interests involve studying the emergence of normative and atypical emotional development from early adolescence to emerging adulthood. Current projects also include developing and evaluating school-based prevention and mentoring programs that reduce mental health issues and build upon the strengths of culturally-diverse youth including Aboriginal youth.


Dr. Jessica Whitley, Ph.D.

Education – University of Ottawa

Jess Whitley is an assistant professor of Inclusive Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. She is also a senior researcher with the Centre of Research on Educational and Community Services at the University of Ottawa, and a member of the Comprehensive School Health Educational Research Unit in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests include exploring the psychosocial well-being of students with exceptionalities including relationships between classroom- and school-level factors, student self-concept, and internalizing and externalizing behaviours. She is currently assessing teacher perceptions and beliefs with regard to students’ mental health difficulties with the goals of improving mental health literacy among pre- and in-service teachers and ultimately improving outcomes for students.