Research Team


Graduate Students


Zhen picture

Zhen Xu      
PhD Candidate      
zhen.xu [at]

Zhen Xu is PhD a student at McGill University in Clinical Psychology. She is currently in her fourth year of doctoral studies. Her research interests focus on health behaviour. Specifically, she is interested in emotional and cognitive determinants of health, as well as health behaviour interventions that help individuals achieve greater well-being and improved physical health. 

Currently, her research project aims to examine whether specific eating and exercising cue awareness, self-efficacy, as well as people's natural ability to pay attention to internal and external cues (i.e. how aware someone is in general) can influence the relationship between the study condition (experimental versus control) and increases in habit strength of overweight individuals. She is also interested in examining the influence of habit strength on eating / exercising behaviours in this population. 

In addition, she is also working on a project to examine the quality of if-then plans (concrete plans of when, where and how to perform a new habit) that facilitate the formation of healthier eating and exercising habits in overweight individuals. 

Learn more about Zhen


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Mallory Frayn
PhD Candidate
mallory.frayn [at]     

Mallory Frayn is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at McGill University. Her research in the Health Psychology Laboratory is related to studying and understanding peoples’ relationships with food, specifically the construct of emotional eating. She is interested in exploring the connection between emotional eating and weight outcomes to see if emotional eating leads to increased weight gain and difficulties with weight loss over time.

Her current research project aims to implement a brief psychological intervention to target emotional eating to see if this improves weight loss outcomes for emotional eaters. Her goal is to create a weight loss intervention tailored for emotional eaters to better facilitate weight loss in this population.

Learn more about Mallory



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Kimberly Carrière
PhD Candidate
kimberly.carriere [at]     

Kimberly Carrière is a PhD student at McGill University in Clinical Psychology. Her research in the Health Psychology Laboratory involves examining the development and evaluation of programs grounded in eastern philosophies on weight loss. She is particularly interested in exploring the effectiveness of mindfulness and self-compassion in promoting healthy eating and exercise behaviors in obese and overweight individuals. One of her goals is to design a targeted behavioral weight loss intervention that not only supports weight loss, but facilities its maintenance over time.  

Her current research involves implementing a brief mindful eating intervention that is aimed at reducing mindless eating by having participants direct their attention towards their physical body, specifically towards their stomach and its natural hunger and fullness cues. 

Learn more about Kimberly



Other Research Team Members


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Ian Bernstein
Research Coordinator
ian.bernstein [at]

Ian developed an interest in mindfulness in 2016, when he got involved in a study that aimed to alleviate anxious and/or depressive symptoms in kidneydialysis patients using mindfulness techniques. Since then, he has been fascinated by the various uses of mindfulness, as well as how it can be utilized to achieve a number of health benefits, including weight loss. This drew him to the Health Psychology Lab, where he is currentlyconductinghis senior honours thesis on a studythat seeks to evaluate the efficacy of a brief mindfulness-based intervention for weight loss. Ian is also the research coordinator for this study, and he is enjoying being able to communicate with participants and receive their feedback on the program. During Ian's free time, you can find him hanging out with friends, going on road trips,or binge watching Netflix.



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Elena Dikaios
Research Assistant
elena.dikaios [at]

Elena’s interests in mindfulness, wellbeing, and mental health emerged after years of practicing and studying yoga. She switched from the Liberal Arts program into Psychology in her third year when she realized that psychology would enable her to combine her interests and study mindfulness scientifically rather than solely from experience. In the Health Psychology Lab, Elena helps with the Mindful Eating Program by meeting weekly with participants to teach them mindfulness techniques to help them lose weight and change their eating habits. She enjoys working in this setting as it allows her to connect with people and support them in achieving their goals. Outside of academia and yoga, Elena loves to cook, read, and spend time in nature. 



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Sabrah Khanyaril
Research Assistant
sabrah.khanyari [at]


Sabrah is currently in the second year of her undergraduate degree, pursuing a major in Psychology with minors in Behavioural Science and Anthropology. When she's not in the lab, Sabrah spends her time exploring cafes and restaurants in Montreal, dancing or painting. Her primary aim is to become a clinical psychologist and help provide accessible mental healthcare in her home state of Kashmir in India. 



Simone Livshits
Research Assistant
simone.livshits [at]

Simone Livshits is a B. Sc. student in psychology at McGill University. She is currently working on a qualitative project examining the presentation of emotional eating in individuals of a normal weight. Simone is primarily interested in creating effective and realistic interventions for individuals who emotionally eat and are overweight and obese, and will be pursuing a J.D. degree beginning in Fall 2018.