Tell us more about yourself

I am from a small town called Happy Valley-Goose Bay, in Labrador! Although I have lived in both Quebec and Ontario for my degrees, I will forever be an East Coaster at heart. Whenever I get the chance to, I like to play the ukulele, slowly run races, and craft. I now live in Hamilton, Ontario where I am completing my PhD in psychology.

What is your research about?

My research is in the field of music cognition, which looks at how music affects people’s brains. Specifically, I research how music communicates emotion to listeners. I look at components of music, like how fast it is being played, or how high the notes are and how these aspects affect how people rate the emotion they hear! I am also interested in looking at how different performers can play music differently, and how that can influence the emotion we hear!

What do you enjoy most about your research?

What I enjoy most about my research is not only contributing to research, but creating and planning experiments that help shed the light on an interesting topic! I also love passing on my research skills and knowledge to the research assistants that I mentor and work with. Being able to work as a team to create new research ideas is really fun and very rewarding.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The most challenging thing about my research is accepting that sometimes progress is slower than anticipated. In whatever research you do, there will always be hiccups, or parts that take more time than you expected. These can sometimes feel overwhelming, but when you put in hard work and overcome these obstacles, you come out feeling proud of what you were able to accomplish and learn.

How has your research influenced your career path?

I knew when I entered graduate school that I wanted to be a professor. I really enjoy the mentorship aspect of my research, and plan to continue that within my career path beyond graduate school.

How has your research impacted the world?

For my research, there are some cool real-life applications. Understanding more about how music communicates emotions, and what musical aspects are important to communicate emotion, can be useful for music therapy techniques. For example, knowing what music to use to soothe or excite a patient may depend on the effect of the musical structure itself. Also, those who have trouble communicating verbally may be able to use music to convey their emotional states to others.

What do you predict will be the next big breakthrough in your field?

I anticipate research on music and health becoming a big hot topic in my field. Everything from research on music and Parkinson’s disease, to music and autism, to the effects of music on general wellbeing. This research focus will only continue to grow as music therapy becomes more prevalent and research on new potential therapies will be needed!

What motivates you to do research?

When I was doing my undergrad degree in psychology, I knew I wanted to eventually teach, but I didn’t know what I specifically wanted to study or teach. It was only in my fourth year when we had a new professor come in to teach a music psychology course that I realized I could combine my two passions of music and psychology to study in graduate school. I was so amazed at all the research people were doing involving music, and could not believe it was something people study. I knew then that this was the route I would take to become a professor!

What was your “Eureka!” moment?

The best revelations are in the moments of excitement when you work on something new and love it, or discover something new. I’ve had many of these moments, when learning how to code, or analyzing data on brain waves for a class. It even happens when you find a research article that supports your research hypothesis, or inspires you to do another experiment. These revelations motivate me to work harder, to learn new techniques I have never done before and to keep exploring within my field.

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