Meet the Team

Research Lab Lead

Dr. Nazanin Alavi

Dr. Nazanin Alavi is a staff psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Queen's university. She has also worked as a staff psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Department of Psychiatry at University of Toronto. Dr. Alavi’s research focuses on the effectiveness of online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Dr. Alavi is a pioneer of online CBT in Canada, with more than 12 years of research experience in delivering online psychotherapy. She successfully led multiple clinical trials evaluating efficacy of e-CBT and e-DBT in addressing mood, anxiety and personality disorders, authored numerous peer reviewed publications with particular focus on online care delivery, and is the author of the first handbook on delivering online CBT published by Springer-Nature.


Dr. Megan Yang

Dr. Yang is a Psychiatrist at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre where she runs a clinic for Transitional Aged Youth when she is not busy in the ER.  Her position as an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University has allowed her the opportunity to harness her penchant for grandstanding into something more agreeable – teaching.  She believes that quality mental health care, unburdened by logistical barriers, should be accessible to everyone.

Lab Manager

Charmy Patel

Charmy is a recent Masters graduate in Public Health.  She has also completed her undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) with a specialization in Biology. Throughout her undergraduate degree she got the gratifying experience to be working in Dr. Alavi’s research lab as a Research Assistant. Upon achieving her Master’s degree, she continued working with Dr. Alavi as a Lab Manger. This role involves duties associated with coordinating, implementing and balancing multiple research studies and projects.

Technical Lead

Saad Sajid

Saad is a recent graduate from Cardiff University with a Master’s in Public Health. He completed his Bachelors in Science (Honours; Biology) from Queen’s University. Throughout his undergraduate degree, Saad has been involved in research at the Department of Psychiatry with Dr. Alavi. Broadly speaking, the research has primarily focused on suicide risk and involuntary admission in the emergency department. Currently, he is working as a technical lead at the research lab.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Amir Shirazi

Dr. Shirazi has a medical doctorate and a PhD in statistical physics of complex systems. He has been a data & machine learning scientist for the last 6 years, mostly working in natural language processing (NLP). Dr. Shirazi joined Dr. Alavi's lab as a MITACS postdoctoral fellow, and his research is focused on using NLP in psychotherapy, to facilitate the therapy process, and to make streamlined processes personalized to each client's needs.

Dr. Elnaz Moghimi  

Elnaz holds a PhD in Kinesiology and Health Science from York University. Her graduate work focused on the experiences of women with binge eating disorder with CBT and methylphenidate treatments. Elnaz’s research interests include exploring the relationship between mental health and eating behaviour, eHealth treatments for eating disorders, and the importance of positive and supportive interpersonal relationships when an individual engages in significant health behaviour change.

Medical Students

Gilmar Gutierrez

Gilmar is an international medical student from Ecuador. He has completed his completed his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at UBC in Vancouver. As a member of the class of 2022 at Queen’s, and through his studies, it’s been his goal to contribute to research specially towards improving mental healthcare practices. Currently, Gilmar's research includes the study of different methods to manage cognitive load in resident educational training, and the study of Ketamine as a promising novel standard of care treatment for patients with treatment resistant depression.

Graduate Students

Aaron Philipp-Muller

Aaron Philipp-Muller graduated from U of T Psychology (Honours BSc) and is a first year Master’s Student co-supervised by Dr. Nazanin Alavi and Dr. Taras Reshetukha. Aaron’s research experience is in behavioural and clinical neuroscience, including research in olfactory memory, circadian rhythms, multi-sensory integration, and stroke rehabilitation. He is currently running a clinical trial on the combined effects of Ketamine and online psychotherapy to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and hopes to influence clinical practice with his current research. Aaron is very excited to be learning to administer eCBT with this lab. When he is not working, Aaron enjoys playing guitar, hiking and cooking.

Callum Stephenson

Callum recently graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) with a Specialization in Kinesiology. He is currently completing his Master of Science in Neuroscience at Queen’s University under the supervision of Dr. Alavi. Callum has research experience in various areas including cannabis withdrawal syndrome, bipolar disorder pharmacotherapy, and online psychotherapy delivery. Callum is passionate about furthering his research in the hopes of influencing health policy for more accessible and equitable mental health care delivery.

Research Assistants

Alex Knyahnytskyi

Alex is a second year student double-majoring in Human Biology and Psychology at the University of Toronto. This is his first time working on a research project and he cannot wait to learn and gain some more insight into the field of psychology. He has always been interested in fields related to mental health and hopes to pursue a career in psychiatry. In his down time Alex enjoys to exercise and participate in a variety of outdoor activities (snowboarding, rock climbing, skateboarding, etc.).  He also enjoys a variety of arts such as music and dancing.

Anastasia Shao

Yijia (Anastasia) is a third-year student in Psychology and Philosophy at University of Toronto. She is currently a therapist at Dr. Alavi’s clinic. Anastasia is also currently involved in the E-CBT research project and is interested in research in evidence-based therapies. Outside of the lab, Anastasia is an advocate for open access and scientific practices, an ambassador of Youth Care Center at university of Toronto, and a cat enthusiast.

Anchan Kumar

Anchan is a medical graduate from St. Kitts and Nevis, and has completed her clinical training in both the U.S.A and Canada. As a mental health advocate, the online psychotherapy research at Queens has given her the opportunity to provide online CBT to patients suffering from mood and anxiety disorders. Apart from medicine, her interests include travelling, cooking, dancing and teaching English to new comers.

Georgina (Gina) Layzell

Georgina (Gina) Layzell is a research assistant working with our team who joined our lab group in June 2020. She has an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Behavioural Psychology and experience with cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, mindfulness, and individualized education. Gina is responsible for providing therapeutic feedback and conducting the intake interviews during the screening process.

Israa Sinan

A love for adventure and a passion for helping other, Israa is currently a Life Science student at Queens University.  She is working as a Research Assistant with Dr. Alavi and she couldn’t be more excited! Israa will be involved in e-CBT for the cancer clinic and hopes to one day work in the medical field.

Jasleen Jagayat

Jasleen is excited to be working as a research assistant with Dr. Alavi this year! She graduated from McMaster University with a Neuroscience degree. Throughout her undergraduate career, Jasleen gathered a lot of experience from different labs as a research assistant and now is looking forward to learning more about psychotherapy. In her free time Jasleen likes to experiment with different art techniques.

Niloofar Nikjoo

Niloofar Nikjoo is an international medical graduate from Iran and research assistant at Queen's University. She received her medical degree from Iran University of Medical Sciences with distinction. Niloofar's research is on developing online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) modules for insomnia.

Niloufar Malakouti

Niloufar Malakouti is an international medical graduate from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran. After graduating, Niloufar worked the following two years as a general doctor in the emergency department in a hospital in Iran. Alongside being a Master’s student in Rehabilitation Science at Queen’s University. Niloufar is working with Dr. Alavi on developing “Electronic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Modules” for psychiatric disorders, specifically Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Quratulain Ahsan Khan

Quratulain Ahsan Khan, is an incoming third year student at UofT studying Life Sciences, majoring within Psychology and Human Biology and pursuing a minor within Environmental Science. She is extremely excited to join QueensOPL at Queen's as a research assistant and hope to pursue a career within Psychiatry in the near future.

Sarah Zhu

Sarah is a second year student in Health Sciences at Queen’s University. Sarah’s volunteer experiences in nursing homes and hospitals have inspired her passion for mental health research. She is working as a research assistant with Dr.Alavi this year, and she is looking forward to learning more about online psychotherapy. During her free time, Sarah enjoys dancing, running, and figure skating.

Tessa Gizzarelli

Tessa is entering her second year at Queen’s University in Health Sciences. Mental health advocacy has played a significant role in her life and she has learned that through struggle, there is valuable strength. She is passionate about helping others, seen through her volunteerism at the hospital and serving on Step Above Stigma, a mental health advocacy club at Queen’s University, which has further sparked her interest in anxiety and depression research. Tessa is thrilled to be working alongside Dr. Alavi to learn more about psychotherapy and mental health while continuing to expand her knowledge base in this important field of research.

Past Members

Dr. Anthi Stefatos

During her residency at department of psychiatry at Queen's university Dr. Stefatos helped with editing online psychotherapy modules for addressing mood and anxiety disorders.

Ariana Yakuby

During her medical school, Ariana helped with designing online CBT modules for addressing social anxiety disorder symptoms.

Dr. Caitlin Yee

During her residency at department of psychiatry at Queen's university Dr. Yee helped with developing online psychotherapy modules for addressing depression in chronic pain.

Dawn Armstrong

During her medical school,  Dawn helped with designing online CBT modules for addressing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress disorder.

Farnaz Safavifar

During her work as a research assistant in the lab, Farnaz helped with some research work helping other research members.

Payam Khalafi

During his work as a research assistant in the lab, Payam helped  with providing therapy feedback and developing online psychotherapy modules for addressing depression and anxiety in Oncology and Palliative Care patients.

Dr. Shadé Miller

During her residency at department of psychiatry at Queen's university Dr. Miller helped  with providing therapy feedback and developing online psychotherapy modules for addressing depression and anxiety in Oncology and Palliative Care patients.

Zara Abbaspour

During her work as a research assistant in the lab, Zara helped  with providing therapy feedback.