Current Lab Members


Doug P. VanderLaan, Ph.D. Dr. VanderLaan, Director of the Biopsychosocial Investigations of Gender Laboratory, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and a Collaborator Scientist in Child and Youth Psychiatry 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. Email: doug.vanderlaan@utoronto.caFaculty Webpage

Malvina Skorska, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow. Malvina is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research postdoctoral fellow working on a brain imaging project of adolescents with gender dysphoria in relation to hormone therapy at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, ON. She completed a PhD in Psychology at Brock University (St. Catharines, ON) in October 2016. Her master's and doctoral work focused on biological/physical correlates (e.g., height, facial structure, birth weight, fraternal birth order) related to sexual orientation. In addition to the brain imaging project, she is continuing to work on projects related to the development of sexual orientation in the BIG lab. In her free time you can find her outdoors, reading, and traveling. Email: Personal Webpage

Diana Peragine, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow. Diana views sexual development through a biopsychosocial lens, asking how sexual inequality is written on the body. Her early Ph.D. work used an animal model with the strictest social and reproductive hierarchy among mammals to reveal the neuroendocrine pathway by which social marginalization can block puberty. Diana's later Ph.D. and ongoing work examines human sexual development from a privilege perspective, acknowledging that gender inequality extends from the boardroom to the bedroom. Drawing from work on the pleasure gap at sexual debut, and sexual conditioning in nonhuman animals, it asks whether gender differences in sexual response still arise when women’s first sexual encounters are as rewarding as men’s. Diana’s other projects focus, broadly, on the origins of sexual and gender diversity in women and queer people who experience sex-based marginalization. Outside the lab, Diana enjoys doing drag, and fusing science and art with Science Rendezvous, ROM Friday Night Live, and her own outreach initiatives, including the SRSF STEM Education Scholarship, Sexuality Interest Network (SIN), and SEXposium Science Outreach Conference. Email:

Francisco R. Gómez Jiménez, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow. Francisco is a UTM Postdoctoral Fellowship Award holder working on understanding how children’s gender-related thinking (e.g., gender stereotyping and categorization) and psychosocial adjustment varies across cultural contexts. Specifically, his research compares cisgender and gender-diverse children in Canada, where individuals routinely identify in a binary manner, to those in Thailand and the Istmo region of Oaxaca, Mexico, where gender-diverse individuals’ self-identify and are identified as members of non-binary genders. Broadly speaking, Francisco’s research aims are to understand same-sex sexuality and transgender/gender-diverse identities from a cross-cultural, psychosocial, biodevelopmental, and evolutionary perspective.

Lindsey Thurston, Ph.D. Candidate. Lindsey is pursuing her PhD in psychology with a specialization with the Collaborative Program in Neuroscience (CPIN). Her primary research interest is neuroendocrinology, specifically the influence of testosterone and estrogen on white matter microstructure. Lindsey's work with trans and gender non-conforming populations bridges social and scientific domains by drawing on neurofeminist theory. She aspires to be Editor-in-Chief of a scientific journal and in her spare time photographs the city of Toronto. Email:

Laura MacMullin, Ph.D. Candidate. Laura is a SSHRC CGS-D award holder and is currently in the third year of her PhD. She researches the well-being of racially diverse trans youth.  Additionally, she is continuing to design and implement novel interventions to try to improve children’s appraisals of gender nonconformity. Email:

Ashley Dhillon, Ph.D. Student. Ashley is a SSHRC CGS-M holder and is interested to investigate cross-cultural variations in gender development, primarily in the areas of child and adolescent gender identity, essentialist thinking about gender, and psychosocial outcomes of gender-nonbinary children. Her doctoral research also focuses on how gender-diverse and cisgender children in Thailand conceptualize and reason about gender, and how this might compare to children raised in Western, Education, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Email:

Daisy Hu, Ph.D. Student. Daisy is funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship to conduct brain imagining studies investigating the biodevelopmental bases of sexual and gender diversity cross-culturally. Additionally, Daisy is interested in the evolutionary origins of same-sex sexuality. Email:

Haley James, B.Sc. (Hon.). Haley is a research assistant with the BIG lab. She is also completing a Master's of Social Work degree at the University of Toronto. 

Lames Danok, Research Analyst. Lames is coordinating a project at the Centre for Addication and Mental Health (CAMH) that examines the relationship between adolescent gender identity and brain changes in response to gender-affirming hormone therapies.

Jordan Yang, Research Assistant. Jordan is assisting with a neuroimaging project at CAMH that investigates the relationship between gender identity, hormonal therapies, and brain changes over time. Jordan is also completing an M.Sc. degree in Cognitive Science at McMaster University.

Joshua Dingani Mvunga, B.Sc. (Hon.) Student. Joshua is a 4th-year undergraduate student specializing in neuroscience with a minor in biology. Currently, he is collaborating on a qualitative study of BIPOC trans youth's life experiences. For this project, he is transcribing participant interviews and is applying interpretative phenomonological analysis to identify themes that emerge from them. 

Nicoleta (Nikole) Lupoi, B.Sc. (Hon.) Student. Nicoleta is a fourth-year student pursuing a specialist in Psychology. She is investigating demographic aspects of juvenile sex offenders and other justice-involved youth through collaboration with Dr. Tracey Skilling at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Snimar Kaur, B.Sc. (Hon.) Student. Snimar is a fourth-year student pursuing a B.Sc. (Hon.) with a double major in Biology for Health Sciences and Psychology. She previously held a University of Toronto Excellence Award in the Social Sciences and Humanities to support her research on children’s appraisals of gender-nonconforming peers, and assessing the agreement between the parent and child reports in measuring childhood gender expression. She continues to work in the BIG lab with neuroimaging datasets.

Jessica Biasin, B.Sc. (Hon.) Student. Jessica is a fourth-year psychology student working on a project that examines the gray matter density of transgender individuals through analysis of structural brain scans.

Celina Micaela (Celma) Javier, B.Sc. (Hon.) Student. Celma is a third-year student pursuing a Neuroscience Specialist and Biology minor. She received the University of Toronto Excellence Award in the Health and Life Sciences to support her training in neuroimaging data processing and analysis. She plans to investigate how variations in subcortical structure size, including the hypothalamus and its subunits, relate to sexual and gender diversity. Celma is also investigating the function of prenatal androgen on sexual- and gender-related behaviours by looking at differences in second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D).