Current Lab Members


Doug P. VanderLaan, Ph.D.  

Dr. Doug P. VanderLaan, Director of the Biopsychosocial Investigations of Gender Laboratory, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and a Collaborator Scientist in the Child, Youth and Family Division at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Prior to these appointments, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Psychology at the University of Lethbridge, and a B.A. (Hon.) in Psychology at McMaster University.


Faculty Webpage

Lindsay Coome, Ph.D. Student

Lindsay is a PhD student in the B.I.G. lab. Her research interests span the fields of biological, evolutionary, and cross-cultural psychology. Her thesis investigates the science of sexual orientation and gender identity. Mostly, I am interested in the evolutionary, genetic, hormonal, and immunological bases for the development of third gender identities in a non-Western culture, Thailand.


Personal Website:

Diana Peragine, Ph.D. Student

Diana is an NSERC Doctoral Scholarship Holder at the University of Toronto with an interest in social neuroscience, feminist advocacy, and science outreach. Her Master’s research used a unique rodent system to assess social control of brain and behavioral plasticity in female-dominated groups, underscoring the need to include females in research on intrasexual competition. Combating the sex bias in biological research continues to be a passion, and Diana is currently pursuing a dissertation at the intersection of sex, gender, and biological research under the joint supervision of Dr. Gillian Einstein and Dr. Doug VanderLaan. Her present research explores the developmental psychobiology of human sexual motivation, with a focus on sexual desire, sensation, and reward in women. Outside of the lab, Diana enjoys bringing science out of the lab and into the streets with Science Rendezvous, and has founded several outreach initiatives, including the Toronto District Science Education Scholarship and SEXposium Science Outreach Conference.


A. Natisha Nabbijohn, M.A. Student

Natisha is a SSHRC award holder and is currently working on her M.A. in Psychology. Her graduate work focuses on children's appraisals of gender variant expression. Her other research interests include studying how various social, environmental, and biological factors influence mental health. In particular, much of her previous research experience focused on childhood gender expression and its relationship with psychological well-being. 


Nina van Bruggen, M.Sc. Student

Nina is an international visiting graduate student from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She is hoping to obtain her Master’s in Neuroscience & Cognition in the summer of 2018. During her studies she developed an interest in studying gender and sexuality. During her Master’s, she has analyzed structural MRI scans from preterm born and very low birth weight adults. She also completed a Minor in Science Education & Communication. In her spare time, Nina likes to explore Toronto on her bike, listen to indie music and read and write poetry.


Nicole Raquinio, Research Assistant & Illustrator

Nicole is currently a fourth year Psychology and Anthropology student at UTM. She is also a multimedia artist who has experience mainly in photography, but also in illustration, fine art, graphic design and other media. She has many interests including gender and cultural studies. As an illustrator, Nicole has created visual stimuli for developmental psychology experiments regarding moral emotions and perceptions of gender-related behaviours in children, while also conducting developmental interviews.


Joanna Matthews, B.Sc. Candidate and Research Assistant

Joanna is a first-year undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Biology for Health Science and Psychology. She is particularly fascinated how sociocultural factors and parenting styles influence child mental health and gender non-conformity. Her current research task focuses on finding the implications of children’s books based on gender non-conformity. In her spare time, Joanna enjoys outdoor activities, poetry, and learning about different cultures.


Adhm Zahran, Research Assistant

Adhm is a second-year undergraduate student at U of T pursuing a Double Major in Biology for Health Science and Psychology. He is especially intrigued by the underlying, and sometimes competing, biological and sociological factors that affect gender identity formation. He is currently a research assistant under the supervision of PhD student Lindsay Coome studying the correlates of sexual orientation. In his spare time, Adhm likes to go to the gym and play video games. 


Lab Alumni

Pamela Adjei, Lab Manager

Pamela is a U of T graduate that specialized in Behaviour, Genetics, and Neurobiology. She is interested in how genetics and environmental factors during early human development impact behaviour and health. Her interest in the B.I.G. Lab was sparked through her various undergraduate psychology courses. Her previous roles on the UTM campus include volunteering UTM Sexual Education Centre. She will be pursuing further studies in Genetic Counselling at McGill University.

Anna van der Miesen, Ph.D. Student

Anna is a visiting PhD student from the VU University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Anna qualified as a medical doctor at the Faculty of Medicine at the VU University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands and is working as a PhD candidate at the Center of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria. Her research focuses on gender dysphoria/ gender incongruence and autism spectrum disorder.

Lisa Bokeloh, M.Sc. Student

Lisa is a visiting student from the Westfälische Wilhelms-University of Münster, Germany where she has completed training in humanistic-systemic counselling. Her past experience includes working in the field of child welfare. She is working toward a Master's in clinical psychology. Her thesis project focuses on gender non-conformity. In her spare time, she  enjoys outdoor activities, yoga, salsa, playing acoustic guitar, and studying different languages.

Alanna Santarossa, B.Sc. Honour’s Thesis Student

Alanna completed a double major in Biology for Health Sciences and Psychology. Her past research experience includes volunteering at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and completing an Independent Research Project (IRP), a Work Study, and an Honour's thesis in the BIG Lab at UTM. As of September 2017, Alanna has been enrolled in the medical program at UTM. 


Amy Yang, Research Assistant

Amy is a non-degree student at University of Toronto. She graduated from Western University with a BMSc in Honors Specialization in Microbiology and Immunology. Her interests are in gender, child development, mental health, and of course, immunology. In her spare time, Amy likes to work out at the gym and volunteer at hospitals. Since September 2017, Amy has been enrolled in a program to become an occupational therapist.