Researching for LGBTQ Health


December 2017

Team August 2016

Lori Ross

Lori Ross

Dr. Lori Ross is an Associate Professor in the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences Division of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and Affiliate Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. She is the leader of the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health Team.

Lori uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches in her research work, with a strong focus on integrating the principles of community-based research. Much of her research focuses on understanding the mental health and service needs of marginalized populations including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people, in order to improve access to services for these communities.

Lori’s most important job is being a Mom to her two kids, ages 10 and 2. Back when she used to have free time, she enjoyed gardening and reading Canadian fiction. She feels immensely privileged to get paid to do work that she loves, in the service of her own community, and together with a fabulous team who are all so passionate about social justice.


Lesley Tarasoff

Lesley Tarasoff

Lesley Tarasoff is a PhD candidate in the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences Division at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and has been a member of the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team since summer 2010. Her PhD research explores how women with physical disabilities experience the transition to motherhood, with an emphasis on embodiment and care experiences. With members of the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team and other scholars across North America, she has worked on a number of projects in the areas of reproductive and perinatal health, mental health, and LGBTQ health (for more information, visit Lesley's website).

In August 2016 she became coordinator of the Postpartum Well-being Study, coordinating the wrap-up of data collection and analysis, as well as contributing to knowledge translation activities of the project, specifically for the Toronto site.

Outside of academia, she enjoys cooking, eating, traveling, playing recreational soccer and softball, cycling, and daydreaming about moving somewhere warm.

Melissa Marie (emmy)

Melissa Marie

Melissa Marie is a PhD student in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. They are proud to have grown up in Newfoundland, but has spent most of their adult life moving around Québec and Nova Scotia, before ending up in Toronto in September of 2012. In their doctoral program, Melissa Marie conducts research on social work with other-than-human animals, and has interests in queer and posthumanist theory, and digital scholarship. Melissa Marie completed their BSW at Dalhousie University, with a focus on critical social work and community development, and their MSW at Ryerson University, researching animal-assisted interventions and anti-oppressive practice. Their work experience has largely been with youth, particularly in the area of social circus programming, in emergency shelters, and in residential mental health programs. Melissa Marie joined the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team as a placement student in January of 2014, and has been involved ever since. In addition to their academic interests, Melissa Marie loves spending time with their two adopted greyhounds, and enjoys playing soccer, film photography, and books.

Alex Abramovich

Alex Abramovich

Alex Abramovich has been addressing the issue of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness for the past 10 years. His research focuses on access to health care and support for LGBTQ2S youth; what sustains the homophobia and transphobia in the shelter system; and how broader policy issues serve to create oppressive contexts for LGBTQ2S youth.

After joining the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team in September 2014 as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Community-Based Research Program, Alex became an Independent Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.

Alex's research has played an important role in practice and policy change and he has worked closely with municipal and provincial government to help address the needs of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness.

Alex is committed to working towards ending LGBTQ2S youth homelessness in Canada, and research that successfully and ethically engages the community and situates LGBTQ2S young people experiencing homelessness as knowledge makers and creators. He is interested in youth culture, homelessness and health care, community engagement, and film-based methods.

Hannah Kia

Hannah Kia

Hannah Kia joined the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team in September 2014 as a Ph.D. student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, Hannah was a clinical social worker in British Columbia, where she gained practice experience in palliative care and other health care specialty areas. During her time as a social worker, she undertook original research on the experiences of care-giving partners of gay men, and assisted with a Metropolis BC-funded study that examined the experiences and service needs of sexual minority newcomers. Hannah holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work from the University of British Columbia.

At this time, Hannah's research interests centre on examining health care access among older LGBTQ adults. In pursuing her doctoral studies, she hopes to gain a better understanding of how older LGBTQ adults, particularly those living with HIV and other chronic illnesses, might experience stigma and discrimination as barriers to accessing care. In April 2015, Hannah was awarded a Doctoral Research Award by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support her work in this area.

When Hannah is not busy with school or work, she can be found playing three-chord ballads on her guitar, writing poetry at odd hours, or making unsuccessful attempts at Persian cooking.

Kinnon MacKinnon

Kinnon MacKinnon

Kinnon Ross MacKinnon is a PhD student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. He joined the Re:Searching for LGBTQ Health team in 2011 as a Master of Social Work practicum student. Kinnon holds a BA (History & Gender Studies) from Saint Mary's University, a BSW from York University, and a MSW from Ryerson University.

Over the past ten years Kinnon has contributed in numerous social service, advocacy and research positions in the areas of health equity for marginalized groups. In 2012-2014 he worked on clinical research studies investigating treatment programs for individuals diagnosed with psychosis and type II diabetes. In collaboration with Sheena's Place, Kinnon used community-based research approaches to co-organize and facilitate a support group for self-identified men dealing with body image and/or eating disorder concerns. He is currently a Research Coordinator on a project looking at trans-inclusion in sexual health education for youth at Planned Parenthood Toronto.

As an outspoken advocate for equity in sport, Kinnon is a volunteer coach for Special Olympics powerlifting, and became the first openly trans man to compete and medal in powerlifting at the Gay Games in 2014. He was named a 'Sports Hero' by the 2015 Inspire Awards.

Supervised by Dr. Lori Ross, Kinnon's doctoral research uses social theories to consider trans persons' interactions with the institution of psychiatry. Generously funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, his PhD project applies mixed methods in order to explore the barriers and discrimination that trans people experience within the mental health care system.

Jenna MacKay

Jenna MacKay

Jenna joined the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team in January of 2013 as a qualitative analyst on the bisexual mental health project and is supporting the knowledge translation activities of this project.

Jenna completed an MA in Psychology (Carleton University) and an Hons. BA (cum laude) in Psychology and Women’s Studies (York University). Jenna has ten years of rich, diverse work experience in academic, non-profit, hospital and government contexts. Her work has focused on violence against women, women’s mental health, bisexuality, service access and stakeholder engagement. She is an award winning qualitative researcher and educator, and has presented her work internationally.

In addition to being a researcher, Jenna is a community organizer, educator and artist. She is passionate about documenting marginalized histories and manages the project Psychology’s Feminist Voices. Currently Jenna is working towards a Masters of Social Work at University of Toronto to further marry her passion for research with applied skills and deepen her understanding of health from a systems perspective.

Wook Yang

Wook Yang

Wook Yang is a doctoral student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. He joined Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team in October 2015. His primary research interests are centered on developing policy and behavioral interventions that can reduce the adverse mental health outcomes in older LGBTQ adults.

Aside from his academic involvements, Wook has been working with non-profit organizations in order to educate community members on LGBTQ issues. As a Facilitator at The 519, he continues to encourage various community groups to foster LGBTQ inclusive environments.

Renato (Rainier) M. Liboro

Renato Liboro

Rainier is currently a Community-Based Research Postdoctoral Fellow of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research of the Centre for Addiction of Mental Health. His postdoctoral fellowship research will explore the perspectives of hospital- and community-based service providers on their own knowledge and preparedness in addressing mental health concerns and issues of people living with or at risk of developing HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders. Prior to starting his fellowship, Rainier conducted community-based qualitative research as a member of the Equity, Sexual Health, and HIV Research Group of the Centre for Community Research, Learning, and Action at Wilfrid Laurier University. The main focus of his dissertation research was on the impact of provincial education legislation and public policy mandating support for LGBTQ youth in publicly funded schools on the efforts of advocates for the mental health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minority students. He conducted this research in collaboration with community partners from the Waterloo Region District School Board, Waterloo Catholic District School Board, and the OK2BME Program of KW Counselling Services.

Rainier joined the Re:Searching for LGBTQ Health Research Team in April 2016. He completed his PhD in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University (2015). He also has a medical degree and practiced as a physician and surgeon in the Philippines for nearly a decade before immigrating to Canada in late 2007.

Kendra-Ann Pitt

Kendra-Ann PittKendra-Ann Pitt is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto where she is project coordinator for the Peers Examining Experiences in Research Study (PEERS)—a project exploring peer researcher involvement in participatory and community based research. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Justice Education and Women & Gender Studies, as well as graduate and undergraduate degrees in Social Work. Her SSHRC funded doctoral research addressed issues of gender, race and sexuality in relation domestic violence interventions in the Anglophone Caribbean. Kendra has worked as a counsellor and domestic violence advocate and has been involved in anti-violence efforts in the Caribbean, Canada and the UK. Her work as a researcher and educator has been guided by her enduring commitment to producing social equity.

Thank You

We wish to thank all of the people who have worked with us over the past few years: Karen Roberts, Jasmin Taylor, Scott Anderson, datejie green, Heather McKee, Victoria Jakobson, Andrew Ross, Margaret Gibson, Sarah James-Abra, Marita Obst, Jenny Starke, Mika Atherton, Denise Sum, Emily Chen, Kira Abelson, Liz Brockest, Jennifer Henderson, Ayden Scheim, Tracy Woodford, Yun Gao, Rebecka Sheffield, Amy Siegel, Dean Spence, Jason Oliver, Jessica Wishart, Giselle Gos, Andre Smith, Myera Waese, Sarah Pinder, Nael Bhanji, Iradele Plante, Keisha Williams, and Alia Januwalla.

A big thanks to all of the volunteers, students/trainees, and staff who have worked with us prior to the launch of this website (and sincerest apologizes to anyone that we missed!). We wish you well on your future endeavors and please stay in touch!

Student Opportunities

We welcome student collaborators. Depending on the needs of our projects, we offer learning opportunities for students and trainees at all levels, including high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, professional students (medicine, social work), and postdoctoral fellows. If you are a student or trainee interested in LGBTQ health, please contact us to learn more about ways to get involved with our team.