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Graduate Students

Grad Students Research

Petra Owusu, Western University

Petra Owusu is a 4th-year Ph.D. Candidate in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at Western University. She is deeply committed to raising awareness of the complex needs of Black youth and their mental health. Petra aspires to become a School and Clinical Child Psychologist, specializing in community settings and outpatient clinics. Her primary goal is to provide support to high-risk youth.

Petra's interest in inclusive education was sparked by observing the systemic challenges her brother, who has multiple exceptionalities, faced in school and community settings. This experience inspired her to become an advocate, inclusion counsellor, and respite worker in local community organizations, working to dismantle barriers for children with disabilities. Joining the CRC lab has furthered her mission of combating systemic institutions that oppress marginalized groups.

In recognition of her dedication to inclusive education, Petra received the Inclusive Education Research Award in both 2020 and 2023. Her master's dissertation involved developing and evaluating a peer social skills program in inclusive schools. Currently, her doctoral work focuses on amplifying the voices of Black youth on mental health service utilization. Her research supervisors are Dr. Jacqueline Specht and Dr. Gabrielle Lee.

Contact info:

Email: Powusu4@uwo.ca

Twitter: @PassionatePetra

LinkedIn: Petra Owusu

Jessica Delorey, Western University

Jessica Delorey is a 4th-year Ph.D. Candidate in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at Western University. She is passionate about celebrating the things that make people unique and believes that including students with disabilities in regular classrooms adds so much value to schools, communities, and society.

Jessica’s interest in inclusive education began when she was a child and noticed differences in the way her brother with Down syndrome experienced school. Joining the Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education was a natural choice and has allowed Jessica to use her personal experiences to guide her research. Jessica has published her honours and master’s theses and has contributed to additional publications with members from the Centre.

In 2022, she was a recipient of the Inclusive Education Research Award.

Jessica is currently working on her doctoral research with Dr. Jacqueline Specht. This work aims to contribute to our understanding of how beginning teachers develop beliefs that are related to being effective teachers in inclusive classrooms.

 Contact info:

Email: jdelore@uwo.ca

Twitter: @jessdelorey

LinkedIn:Jessica Delorey

Sara J. Spence, Western University

Sara J. Spence is a 3rd-year Ph.D. student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at Western University. Her passions include learning which stems from her grandparents, and spending time in the land and her First Nation Community of Peguis, Manitoba.

Sara hopes to provide support to others in their education, encourage their resilience, and empower their brilliance in their learning journey like her family did for her. Also, she hopes to research ways to connect the strengths of Indigenous epistemology with the strengths of psychology. She aspires to be a helper to Indigenous children, youth, and families in connecting to the land and their culture on their mental health and educational journey.

Her master's work entailed an autoethnography project that captured the experiences of Indigenous School Psychologists trainees. This experience led her to seek connection and explore research on the topic of Indigenous psychology. She is currently working on Indigenous research publications and a textbook that features the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives within inclusive education.

Sara is a member of the First Nations Research Circle, which consists of Indigenous scholarship (exploring Indigenous methodology within the context of education). Her research supervisors are Dr. Jacqueline Specht and Dr. Brent Debassige.

Contact info: 

Email: sspenc66@uwo.ca

Twitter: @morningcoffee82

LinkedIn: Sara Spence

Paige Walker, Western University

Paige Walker is in the 3rd-year of her doctoral degree in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at Western University. She is a strong advocate for inclusive education and is passionate about supporting students and their families. Paige is an active member of the Educational and School Psychology section of the Canadian Psychological Association and aims to increase awareness about the field.

Her master’s research examined the accessibility of Ontario University Accessibility Services webpages. Paige would like to continue exploring the accessibility of services for students with disabilities. Her research supervisor is Dr. Jacqueline Specht.

Contact info:

Email: Pwalke25@uwo.ca

Twitter: @PaigeHWalker

Annie Beatty, Western University

Annie Beatty is currently a 1st -year PhD student in the School and Applied Child Psychology Program at Western University. Her previous work at McMaster University and the Offord Centre for Child Studies has helped shape her research interests in promoting resilience in educational contexts by taking a systems approach to students' academic achievement.

Annie’s experience working with at-risk families across Ontario strengthened her interest in inclusive education and intersectionality. At the forefront, is her belief that every child has the right to accessible and equitable education.

Annie’s current research focuses on teacher-related factors associated with beliefs in inclusive education. Her research work is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada. Annie hopes to use research to inform her practice as a school psychologist to continue to support families with children of all abilities. Her research supervisor is Dr. Jacqueline Specht.

Contact info: 

Email: abeatt5@uwo.ca

Twitter: @anniembeatty

LinkedIn: Annie Beatty

Allison Horsley, Western University

Allison Horsley is an incoming first-year Ph.D Candidate in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at Western University. Her master’s thesis examined educators’ knowledge and confidence about teaching students with exceptionalities. Her previous Bachelor of Education degree and experience as a teacher have enabled her to work with students with diverse needs and abilities. She strives to create supportive learning environments for all students and aims to provide support for teachers in need.

In 2024, she was the recipient of the Jessica Jean Campbell Coulson Award and the Inclusive Education Research Award.

Allison’s research supervisor is Dr. Deanna Friesen. Allison aspires to work as a school psychologist, providing support to educators, staff and students. Through her work, she hopes to advocate for practices that ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed.

Contact info:

Email: ahorsley@uwo.ca

LinkedIn: Allison Horsley

Lab Website: berrl.ca

JungAh Lee, University of British Columbia

JungAh Lee is a 3rd-year PhD Student in the Special Education program at the University of British Columbia. She has eight years of teaching experience as a special education and elementary teacher in South Korea. Her master’s work explored the effects of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) on elementary students’ academic interests and social dynamics in inclusive classrooms. Following up on this study, JungAh is currently interested in the Learner Agency of students with learning difficulties. Her research supervisor is Dr. Jennifer Katz.

Contact info:

Email: happyday345@gmail.com

LinkedIn: JungAh Lee

Research Awards

Graduate Student Research Awards

Inclusive Education Research Award

The Inclusive Education Research Award is funded by Foundation Western and administered by the Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education. Each year, up to three awards of $750 each will be granted to graduate students in education.

Each recipient must be a graduate student in the Faculty of Education at Western who is conducting a research project that is part of the thesis/dissertation requirement for completion of their program of study. The applicant’s research proposal must address an issue that is related to the inclusion of students who represent a diversity of backgrounds or learning needs. 

2024 Recipients

Annie Beatty: Prediction of Teacher Well-Being through Beliefs: A Mixed-Methods Study of Educators

Melissa Brideau: Uneven Terrain of the Academy? Physically Disabled Students and Higher Education

Allison Horsley: Educators’ Knowledge and Confidence about Teaching Students with Exceptionalities

2023 Recipients

Kailee Liesemer: S3: An afterschool STEM and social skills program for adolescents with autism

Petra Owusu: Amplifying Black Canadian Youth Voices on Mental Health Service Utilization

Emily Villani: Encouraging diversity and fostering friendship: An inclusive summer day camp

2022 Recipients

Shamiga Arumuhathas: Is there adversity in diversity? Racialized international students’ experiences at Ontario universities

Jessica Delorey: An Exploration of How Experiences Influence the Development of Beliefs Related to Inclusive Education 

Julia Ranieri: An exploration of the facilitators and barriers of inclusion and participation for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in informal educational settings

2021 Recipients

Candace Brunette-Debassige:  The trickiness of policy practices: Indigenous women administrators' experiences in Canadian universities

Evan Charles:  Predicting teachers' long-term self-efficacy for teaching in inclusive classrooms: A five-year longitudinal analysis 

2020 Recipients

Mohammed Estaiteyeh: Biology Teachers' Understandings and Implementation of Differentiated Instruction (DI) in High Schools in Ontario

Petra Owusu: Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Statewide Autism Resources and Training (START) Peer-to-peer Program

Kate Patterson: Using Home Language as a Resource: Working Collaboratively with Ontario Educators to Support English language Learners in the Classroom

2019 Recipients

Courtney Cadieux: Parents in Partnership with Educators (PIPE) Program: An exploratory pilot Evaluation

Steven Floyd: A Comparative Analysis of K to 12 Coding Curricula

McKenzie Vanderloon: A Longitudinal Perspective on the Development of Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices among Canadian Teachers.

Jessica Jean Campbell Coulson Award

Established through Foundation Western by the late Mr. David Campbell (BA ’38), this award is presented in memory of his daughter, Jessica Jean Campbell Coulson, a teacher who inspired students with learning disabilities to succeed by focusing on their strengths. Each year, one award of approximately $2,000 is given.

The recipient must be a full-time graduate student in the Faculty of Education, having an average of 78% or better, and conducting research on a topic that is relevant to the inclusion and education of students with exceptionalities.

2024 Recipient

Allison Horsley: Educators’ Knowledge and Confidence about Teaching Students with Exceptionalities

2023 Recipient

Emily Villani: Encouraging diversity and fostering friendship: An inclusive summer day camp.

2022 Recipient 

Kailee Liesemer: S3: An afterschool STEM and social skills program for adolescents with autism

2021 Recipient

Tsz-Wing Zita Lau: Beginning teachers' development of inclusive practices: A longitudinal multiple case-study approach

2020 Recipient

Mohammed Estaiteyeh: Biology teachers' understandings and implementation of Differentiated Instruction (DI) in high schools in Ontario

2019 Recipient

McKenzie Vanderloon: A Longitudinal perspective of the development of teacher efficacy for the use of inclusive practices among Canadian teachers