Human Development Alumni Profiles

Selected alumni are showcased here sharing their experiences in the HD as well as their current achievements. HD alumni are actively pursuing improving education through research and practice in international communities.


Amanda Argento, Training Developer at McGill’s Student Wellness Hub
MA Human Development – 2019

My research interests include coping behaviours in university students, educational technology, as well as mental health and wellbeing awareness and promotion. In addition to my research and academic experience, I completed an internship at a mental health tech start-up in Toronto. Since graduating, I have worked as a project administrator in the Faculty of Education at McGill University, coordinating the development, implementation and evaluation of a pre-service teacher mental health and wellbeing program. Currently, I am a Training Developer at McGill’s Student Wellness Hub where I assist with the coordination of staff trainings as well as student programming which includes both live and on-demand workshops, social media, and trainings!

The Human Development program equipped me with a strong research background as well as academic writing skills from my courses. It also provided me with the flexibility to advance more creative and technology related projects alongside my supervisor, Dr. Nancy Heath during my time as a graduate student. I rely on this combination of skills daily in my current role! I would like to thank Faculty and Staff I had the chance to work throughout my studies in Human Development with for preparing me so well for work life and equipping me with a rather unique set of applicable skills!

Asma Batool - Director of Inclusive Education & Transition Services, ACCEL - Saudi Arabia
PhD in Human Development - 2020

My research focuses on Inclusive Education emphasizing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a core instructional design model. Specifically, identifying how teachers deal with the learner variability/learning differences and barriers to learning. Based on the findings of this study, I designed professional development workshops and teachers’ training programs to bridge gaps between teachers’ understandings and practices to promote inclusive education in general education classrooms. I was appointed as a Clinical Director at the Ajyal Center for Comprehensive Education and Life Skills-Saudi Arabia (ACCEL International) in 2019. I am currently serving as a Director of Inclusive Education and Transition Services at ACCEL besides serving as a Program Manager of the Best Buddies Program in the Kingdom. I have developed and introduced new programs and practices in Saudi Arabia and thriving to bridge special and general education schools in the Kingdom with my unique lens of collaborative practices to provide optimized learning opportunities to the students with disabilities within and outside the classrooms.

My educational experience in the Human Development program enhanced my organizational, applied research, and report writing skills. My background in the Clinical Psychology and the multifaced educational experience that I have acquired at ECP McGill over the several years provided me solid foundations of theoretical and practical knowledge and shaped my career both at personal and professional levels. I am confident to apply these skills in making contributions to the research and practice.

Dana Carsley - Associate Director, Resilience and Wellness Enhancement at McGill’s Student Wellness Hub
PhD in Human Development - 2019

I began graduate studies as an elementary school teacher, and my experience in the Human Development program provided me with the opportunity to apply my learning in a practical way by conducting research on the development and evaluation of teacher-led mindfulness, stress management and wellness and resilience programs. As a student in the Human Development Program, I was able to develop, design and conduct a unique research project focusing on how mindfulness can be used to support students’ mental health and well-being in multiple developmental periods. Furthermore, as part of a research team, I collaborated with students and faculty on numerous school and resilience-based projects and initiatives.

In my current position at the Student Wellness Hub, I am able to continue building on these collaborations, and work with the Hub team to build a resilient campus in which wellness and resilience-based material is embedded within the work we already do. In addition to working on increasing capacity and awareness around resilience-based training, I have been applying skills learned in the Human Development Program to assess and target wellness and resilience-based initiatives and services within the McGill community. I am grateful to have been a part of the Human Development Program, and particularly for the mentorship I received in developing research and practical skills that I am able to transfer to so many other contexts.

Jennifer Lavoie - Chancellor’s Fellow in the Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh
PhD in Human Development - 2018

I am a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh. My research focuses on children’s interactions with the legal system as a means for ending violence against children. As part of this, I examine developmental differences in deception and concealment, specifically as it relates to disclosures of sensitive information, as well as how concealment and deceptive behaviours become maladaptive for some children and adolescents. I completed a Fulbright visiting research exchange (2017/18) at the University of California, Irvine, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge (2018/20).

The knowledge and experience that I gained in the Human Development program at McGill University, through academic mentorship, research activities, classes, and seminars have been truly foundational in developing my skills as a scholar. I have used both the theoretical training and practical research skills to continue building an academic research program with the goal of impacting policy and practice in society.

Marisol Marfull-Jensen – Superintendence of Education of Chile
PhD in Human Development - 2015

I am Marisol Marfull-Jensen, a 2015 McGill graduated from the Human Development (HD) program. Under Dr. Flanagan´s supervision, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge in the HD field and academia. My main research interests are in the field of social inclusion, quality of early childhood education in students with disabilities, quality of life and more recently, the use of restorative practices (mediation & arbitration) within the school environment and its effect on trajectories (i.e. school, students, parents).

Upon graduation, I came back to Chile, my home country. Since then, I´ve been working in academia holding different positions (i.e. main researcher and Assistant Professor). Also, since 2019, I´ve also been working for the Superintendence of Education of Chile in the field of mediation and arbitration to help schools and school stakeholders to deal with dispute resolution. This involves working closely with schools in terms of installing capacities. Despite the fact that my professional path has been varied throughout these years, I see that many of the competencies I use every day were learnt at McGill. Undoubtedly, McGill has helped me to not only expand my knowledge, but also to increase my opportunities for finding new interests and job opportunities for which I am most grateful.

Miriam McBreen - Reading Specialist and Assistant Director of Services in Shanghai, China
PhD in Human Development - 2020

My research interests involve understanding socio-emotional components of development and how these impact learning, as well as developing more effective ways to support the learning of students who struggle with reading. I conduct intervention-based research to evaluate the impact of motivational-teaching approaches on the reading acquisition of students experiencing difficulties. I currently work as a reading specialist and assistant director of services at ELG, a Shanghai-based social enterprise dedicated to supporting individuals with special education and developmental needs across China. In my role as a reading specialist, I assess and intervene directly with students experiencing reading difficulties, while in my role as assistant director I manage a multi-disciplinary team of developmental, educational and mental health therapists.

The Human Development program allowed me to build a strong theoretical understanding of the various influences that impact individuals’ development and of research methodology and fostered my interest in exploring more effective ways to support the needs of all learners. In addition, having the opportunity to design, implement and evaluate a motivational reading intervention as part of my doctoral research provided me with hands-on experience working with students and the opportunity to participate in the process of translating research into practice, which has refined my approach both to conducting research and to working with students. The diversity of research interests in the program’s faculty, as well as their genuine commitment to their students’ growth, created an inspiring and innovative environment that fueled my desire to use research to drive positive educational change.

Devin Mills - Assistant Professor, Department of Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences, Texas Tech University
PhD Human Development – 2017

My research centers on understanding the development of behavioral addictions, specifically video gaming and gambling disorder, from the perspective of social psychological theory. The outcomes of this work lend to the identification of factors that facilitate sustained recovery across the lifespan, which inform the development of prevention programs and clinical interventions. I am currently working on several projects including the relationship between addiction and life-threatening behaviors, the underlying mechanisms that explain the relationship between dark personality traits (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism) and addiction, the role of positive psychological factors in sustaining addiction recovery, and the interpersonal experiences of video gamers.

Although I did not have a research-intensive background coming into the program – which made for a steep learning curve – the Human Development faculty were available and willing to help me develop skills across all areas of research (i.e., theory, study design, statistical analyses, and research writing). As a new professor, I use these skills every day. Going forward I am excited to continue collaborating with my research mentor, Dr. Heath, and her research team.

Liane Pereira - Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Central Washington University
PhD Human Development – 2014

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Central Washington University. My teaching areas include lifespan development, child and adolescent psychopathology, and statistics. I am committed to improving students’ experiences and teacher practices to increase mental health literacy and cultural competence in school communities. This is the focus of my research which examines the relationship among education, socioemotional, and mental health outcomes in youth, with a focus on inequities by race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status.

The Human Development program provided me with foundational training in various domains of development. The focus on understanding how cultural and school contexts influence child and adolescent development fostered my interest in educational inequities, particularly for students experiencing social or emotional difficulties. The program supported my growth as a quantitative and qualitative researcher, which I now apply in my scholarly projects and in my teaching of students, many of whom are new to research. The collaboration with various faculty and peers provided me with opportunities to learn about the research process, including dissemination of knowledge, and effective mentorship models to support undergraduate student researchers, which have been vital in my current role.


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