This story is published in YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue 2021, part one. Every September, YFile introduces and welcomes those joining the York University community, and those with new appointments. Watch for part two on Sept. 10.
Seven new faculty members join the Faculty of Health at York University this fall, with appointments in the School of Global Health, the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, and the Department of Psychology.
Dean Paul McDonald welcomed the new faculty members to the University.
“The Faculty of Health has added excellent new faculty members at a time when COVID has highlighted the importance of health, health care and health equity,” he said. “Our new colleagues come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise and will help build upon our tradition of diversity and excellence in research, teaching and service.”
Tali Boritz, who completed her PhD in clinical psychology at York University, joins the Department of Psychology as an assistant professor. Prior to joining York, she was a staff psychologist and clinician-scientist at the Borderline Personality Disorder Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Her research primarily focuses on psychotherapy process and outcome, with particular emphasis on the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex trauma. Her research aims to identify therapeutic factors (e.g. interpersonal, narrative, emotion processes) associated with therapeutic change, including therapist characteristics and behaviours linked to treatment outcomes. A current focus of this research is on alliance rupture and repair processes in psychotherapy, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of psychotherapy training and practice. She is also currently investigating the effectiveness of a novel intervention for the treatment of comorbid BPD and complex trauma.
Karl Erickson joins the School of Kinesiology and Health Science as an assistant professor of sport psychology. He completed his graduate work at Queen’s University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Prior to joining York, he was an assistant professor at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University.
Erickson’s research addresses two primary questions: how does participation in sport and movement contexts contribute to psychosocial development and well-being; and how can this contribution be optimized toward positive development, learning and growth? He is interested in the integration of performance, health and psychosocial outcomes, and how interpersonal processes in sport, particularly involving coaches and coaching, influence these developmental outcomes for youth. To this end, he strives to ensure his work is interdisciplinary, systems-oriented and community-based.
Kathleen Fallon joins the School of Global Health at York University as undergraduate program director and teaching stream professor. She is coming from the Department of Sociology at Stony Brook University, where she served as Chair of the department. She also previously worked at McGill University.
Fallon’s research and teaching focus on topics related to political sociology, international development and gender studies. Specifically, she studies women’s social movements, women’s rights, women’s health and democracy within sub-Saharan Africa, as well as across developing countries more broadly. She has completed field research in Ghana, examining the influence of democratization on women’s rights and the emergence of the women’s movement. Through comparative analyses across developing countries, she also researches topics linked to democratic transitions, women’s political representation, women’s activism, and maternity leave and domestic violence policies.
Larkin Lamarche joins the School of Kinesiology and Health Science as an assistant professor in the teaching stream. They previously taught in the areas of mental health, aging and health care at McMaster University and exercise and health psychology at Brock University.
Lamarche’s doctoral work, completed at the University of Toronto, and postdoctoral work, completed at Brock University, looked at psychobiological and coping responses to body image experiences. Their recent research at McMaster University explored complex primary care programs for the improved delivery of care in diverse and underserved populations.
In the classroom, Lamarche creates opportunities for students to engage with diverse ways of knowing. Lamarche and co-developers received a grant to develop a land-based assignment where students learned about the mental health impacts of connection to, and disconnection from, the land. They are passionate about normalizing and destigmatizing conversations about mental health.
Lara Pierce joins the Department of Psychology at York University as an assistant professor. She received her PhD from McGill University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School.
Pierce uses developmental cognitive neuroscience tools (e.g. electroencephalography, at-home language recordings, behavioural assessments) with infants and young children to explore how variation in the early environment impacts the development of neural systems – particularly those that support language. She further explores how very early language experiences influence the neural processing of language later in life. Pierce is especially interested in how variables associated with socioeconomic status and early life stress contribute to both early neurodevelopment and variation in the early language environment, and she aims to increase sociodemographic representation in developmental research. Pierce’s work is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Cindel White joins the Department of Psychology at York University as an assistant professor in social/personality psychology. She received her PhD in social psychology from the University of British Columbia.
White’s research investigates why people hold particular religious beliefs; how people evaluate what is right and wrong; responses to moral transgressions; and how culturally diverse religious beliefs affect people’s moral judgments, values and prosocial behaviour. Her current research looks at the causes and consequences of different supernatural justice beliefs such as beliefs about karma, gods and interpersonal fairness. Her work broadly seeks to understand variation in moral psychology across cultures and contexts, including across countries, religious groups, and judgments of children and adults. White’s research investigating cultural diversity in religious cognition has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Issachar Fund and the John Templeton Foundation.
Cathy (Xijuan) Zhang
Cathy (Xijuan) Zhang is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, specializing in quantitative methods. She obtained her PhD from the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She also worked as a postdoctoral Fellow in UBC’s Department of Education before joining York University.
Zhang’s two main areas of research involve developing new methods for measuring the fit of statistical models and investigating new scale formats for psychological scales. As a quantitative psychologist, she also feels responsible for improving the quality of statistical training in the social sciences through teaching and writing tutorial papers. In her spare time, she takes piano lessons once a week and practices for two hours every day.