The Enhance Lab

The Team


Dr. Carly McMorris

Dr. Carly McMorris has a PhD in Clinical-Developmental Psychology from York University (Toronto, Ontario). She completed her clinical internship at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids; Toronto, Ontario), and is a registered psychologist in Alberta (#4997). In the fall of 2015, she moved to Calgary and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Paediatrics, Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary and the Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Dr. McMorris joined the Werklund School of Education in 2016 as an Assistant Professor in the School and Applied Child Psychology program.

Dr. McMorris’ program of research focuses on how to improve the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD), such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and cerebral palsy. She is particularly interested in understanding the risk/protective factors for the development of mental health issues in NDDs. She also investigates the underlying neuropsychological, social, neurological, and physiological mechanisms of mental health issues in NDDs, and how such issues impact children and families. Additionally, she examines the service use patterns and needs, and barriers/facilitators to accessing services for families of individuals with NDDs and co-occurring mental health issues. Lastly, her research aims to determine the effectiveness of psychological (e.g., CBT) and pharmacological interventions for individuals with NDDs and mental health issues.

Outside of the lab, Dr. McMorris enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading and knitting, being active, travelling, and getting outside. She also volunteers her time as a Clinical Director for Special Olympics, Healthy Athletes.


Current graduate Students


Jessica Baraskewich

Jess is a doctoral student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program. She is originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario where she completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Lakehead University. Before pursuing graduate studies, Jess worked in northern Alberta with youth with severe behavioural challenges. She obtained her MSc in the SACP program where her research examined the relation between disordered eating and symptoms of ADHD. Her current research continues to examine the relationship between disordered eating and neurodevelopmental disorders more broadly. Jess is a facilitator for Facing Your Fears - a cognitive behavioural intervention for youth with ASD and anxiety disorders, is involved in implementing Facing Your Fears for youth with ADHD, and is a facilitator for an emotion regulation skills group for adolescents with eating disorders. In her spare time, Jess enjoys competing in track and field as a middle-distance athlete, napping, and baking.


Kelsey Friesen

Kelsey is a first year PhD student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program. She was born in Calgary and graduated from the University of Calgary in 2017 with a combined Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Psychology and Bachelor of Arts Archaeology degree. During her undergraduate degree she took some time off to work as a behavioural interventionist with children with special needs. This work inspired her to pursue an MSc in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary. During her MSc, Kelsey was a member of the Strengths in ADHD research lab, and her research investigated empathy and executive functioning in children with ADHD. Her current research will examine longitudinal mental health outcomes in children and youth exposed to prenatal and postnatal risks. Outside of school, Kelsey is a certified yoga instructor, and enjoys being active. She is also an avid baker, and enjoys making cupcakes for all occasions.


Katie Hewitt 

Katie is currently a second year MSc student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program. Originally from Lindsay, Ontario, she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree with a Major in Psychology and a Minor in Family and Child Studies in 2015 at the University of Guelph. She moved to Calgary, Alberta shortly after, while completing a Graduate Certificate in Autism and Behavioural Science online. She also has experience providing early intervention services to children, and their families, with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Katie first began working part-time in the ENHANCE lab as a volunteer in 2017 and currently, her research focuses on medication use, suicide, and service utilization among individuals with ASD. She is also involved in an initiative with the Special Olympics' Strong Mind program to determine the social and emotional functioning of individuals with various intellectual disabilities. When Katie is not working, you will find her in the mountains! 


Richard Besney

Richard is a first year MSc student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program. Born and raised in Edmonton, Richard completed his undergraduate studies at Western University in London, Ontario with a BSc honours specialization in psychology and a major in medical Science. After his degree he moved to Toronto where he worked for two years in autism research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). There he examined the prevalence of co-occurring metal health conditions among individuals with autism. As well, he studied some of the ways autism may manifest itself differently in females, as compared to the male population. In graduate school, Richard will be studying suicide, as well as continuing to do research related to co-occurring mental health conditions among individuals with autism. Richard is passionate about autism and mental health advocacy, and is excited to engage in related activities over the course of his study and training. Outside the lab, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors, playing golf, traveling, and cheering on the Edmonton Oilers.


Rachel Dean

Rachel is a first year MSc student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program. She was born and raised in Edmonton where she completed a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Psychology at MacEwan University. Although her research at MacEwan was largely focused on examining the behavioural effects of pharmacological substances on zebrafish anxiety, she is currently interested in exploring how suicidal thoughts and behaviours can be better assessed in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She is equally interested in exploring factors that influence the likelihood an individual with ASD will be at risk for suicide. Outside of her studies, Rachel has volunteered in a respite program for youth with ASD and has also assisted children who were unable to remain in a traditional school setting due to mental health, learning, or behavioural difficulties. When she is not studying, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and dog Emmitt.


current honours and independent research project students


Mica Pabia

Mica is a fourth year Kinesiology student completing her Honours thesis under Dr. Elizabeth Condliffe and Dr. Carly McMorris. Her research interests include depression, suicide, and physical activity in persons with cerebral palsy. Mica is passionate about physical activity for all people, and volunteers in various adapted sport programs such as Taking Strides, Families of Alberta for Conductive Education and the Adapted Sport Camp at the University of Calgary. In her spare time, Mica enjoys weightlifting, longboarding and makeup.


Kate Hall

Originally from Yellowknife, Kate is a fifth year student at the University of Calgary completing her Honours thesis under Dr. Carly McMorris and Dr. Melanie Noel. Kate began volunteering in Dr. Noel’s  ABC Pain Lab in 2018, which grew her interest in child psychology and pain research. Her current research interests include developmental psychology and mental health, specifically related to anxiety. When not researching, Kate enjoys spending her time kayaking, reading, and traveling the world.


Jennifer Williamson

Jennifer is a BSc Honours student in Psychology. They are working with Dr. Carly McMorris for their honours thesis, and are conducting research on a needs assessment and mentorship program for university students with autism. Jennifer is passionate about autism research and cognitive development, and hopes to pursue graduate studies and a career in academia. In their spare time, they enjoy reading, writing, Nintendo games, and hiking with their family.

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Hangsel Sanguino

Hangsel was born in Colombia and moved to Canada in 2006. He is currently working on his BSc in Psychology at the University of Calgary. He is currently working with Dr. McMorris on an independent research project. He has worked at Society for Treatment of Autism (STA) as a Behaviour Therapist for two years. He is very passionate about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is interested in doing research that investigates loneliness and mental health in ASD as well as the impact of mental health in parents. He started a club on campus called the Autism Awareness Club, which connects students with volunteering opportunities throughout Calgary. The club has partnered with STA and the Autism Asperger’s Friendship Society to provide these volunteer opportunities, host a symposium, and plan unique on-campus events. In Hangsel’s free time, he likes to watch Dinos Volleyball, play rugby and travel.


Nisha Vashi

Nisha is an MSc student in the Experimental Psychology program. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Calgary in 2017. She has worked as a behaviour therapist with children with various neurodevelopmental disorders, and currently works as an education assistant with the Calgary Board of Education. Nisha’s research interests include investigating the motor and language abilities of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. She is exploring whether there are relationships between motor and language development in these children and how intervention programs can adopt this multi-modal approach to benefit children’s cognitive, motor, and language skills holistically. In her spare time, Nisha enjoys singing, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.


lab coordinator


Stephanie Howe  

Stephanie was born and raised in Calgary and began volunteering in the ENHANCE lab in the spring of 2016. She graduated from the University of Calgary in April 2018 where she completed her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Carly McMorris. Her research investigated the impact of anxiety disorders on children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. In the past she has worked as an Early Intervention Therapist with young children with ASD and as the Health Coordinator of Special Olympics Alberta, working to provide free physical and mental health screenings to Special Olympics athletes. In the future, she is considering graduate training in the field of clinical psychology. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with her friends, and watching Game of Thrones. 




Simal Saeed  

Simal is a fourth-year student majoring in Psychology at the University of Calgary. She is interested in various aspects of child development including Autism Spectrum Disorder. In addition to the ENHANCE Lab, she works at the Determinants of Child Development Lab and volunteers at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. In the future, she intends to pursue graduate studies in School and Applied Child Psychology. In her spare time, Simal enjoys reading, sketching, and watching Netflix.  


Amy Tatterton

Amy is a third year MEd student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. In her first year, she studied School and Counselling Psychology and went on to pursue Supporting and Enhancing Children’s Mental Health for her second year topic. Amy is born and raised in Calgary and completed a Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation and Disabilities Studies through the University of Calgary prior to starting her graduate studies. Amy has experience working with neurodiverse populations in a variety of environments. Amy started volunteering part time with the ENHANCE Lab in May 2019 and the final year of her masters degree will involve researching the experience of mental health conditions in neurodiverse populations. When Amy isn’t working, volunteering, or working on academia, you can find her hiking, reading or planning her next travel adventure.


Ummara Ashfaq

Ummara is currently working on attaining her BSc in Psychology at the University of Calgary. Through work and volunteer opportunities, Ummara has obtained extensive experience working with children with diverse needs. She has enjoyed working as a behavioral interventionist with children with autism, and as a tutor with children with various learning disorders. Ummara is passionate about research and making meaningful contributions within her community (big and small!). In her spare time, Ummara enjoys spending time with her family, netflix-ing, and baking!



Past Students


Amanda Aitken 

Amanda was born in Vancouver and moved to Calgary during her childhood. Amanda received her Bachelor of Science in Honours Psychology at the University of Calgary and obtained a position as an Early Intervention Therapist for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), where she worked for over four years. Amanda completed her MSc in the School and Applied Child Psychology program under the supervision of Dr. Carly McMorris. She continues to work as a behavioural therapist with children with neurodevelopmental disorders, volunteer with adolescents and adults with ASD, and provide behavioural support for a social skills group for adolescents with ASD. Amanda’s research interests involve children and youth with ASD and other medical or mental health comorbidities, the impact of neurodevelopmental disorders on families, and the diagnostic process individuals with ASD experience, particularly with females. In her spare time, you can find Amanda playing soccer, watching Friends, or reading.


Chantel Ritter

From a farm in Stony Plain, Alberta, Chantel graduated from MacEwan University in Edmonton of 2017, with a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Psychology and a certificate in Behavioural Interventions. She moved to Calgary in the summer of 2017, where she worked as a behavioural therapist for children and youth with neurodevelopmental disorders and completed her MSc degree in the School and Applied Psychology program under the supervision of Dr. McMorris. Chantel is passionate about research and clinical practice with children and youth with neurodevelopmental, medical, or congenital disorders, and co-occurring complex mental health needs. Chantel’s research in the lab focused on neuropsychological, behavioural, and mental health outcomes of children and youth exposed to multiple prenatal and postnatal risks, medication use and service utilization among individuals with ASD, and pathways to best treatment for children with ASD. Chantel is currently completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Guelph.


Chris Clark   

Originally from Newfoundland, Chris holds a BSc (Hons) degree from the University of Calgary, where he completed his Honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. McMorris. His project examined the relationship between cognitive flexibility, anxiety, and ASD. He is currently enrolled in the Experimental Psychology program at Memorial University of Newfoundland where he will complete his MSc degree under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Fawcett.


Laura Berlanda 

Laura completed her M.Sc. in the School and Applied Child Psychology Program at the University of Calgary in 2018. She previously completed her M.Ed. in Educational Psychology at McGill University and her B.A. in Psychology and English with specialized studies in Art Education at the University of Victoria. Laura is currently working as a school psychologist in British Columbia.