Nova Scotia’s PhD in Educational Studies

Meet our Students

Each year, the Nova Scotia PhD Program in Educational Studies admits approximately 10 students. Currently, we have over 50 students enrolled in various stages of the program.

Students in the Doctoral Program are engaged in investigating exciting research topics that span the range of the six fields of study supported by the program.

Rola Abihanna (Candidate, Class of 2012)

Catherine Baillie Abidi (PhD, Class of 2011)

Catherine successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Pedagogies for building cultures of peace: Challenging constructions of an enemy with Canadian young adults" in 2015. (Supervisor: Dr. Elizabeth Lange, StFX) 

Zhanna Barchuk (Candidate, Class of 2011)

As an educator with research interests in globalization, global education, integrative multiculturalism, and inclusive citizenship, Zhanna has always aimed at developing inclusive practices where students diverse in culture, religion and language would celebrate their identity while becoming globally educated people. (Supervisor: Dr. Mary Jane Harkins, MSVU)

Allana Bartlett (Class of 2018)

Michael Belgrave (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Eleanor Bernard (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Cynthia Bruce (PhD, Class of 2011)

Cynthia began her PhD in Educational Studies after 15 years of working as a clinical music therapist, a music therapy educator, and a disability activist. She has conducted research in Inclusive Post-Secondary Education for students with intellectual disabilities. Her research interests center on equity issues in inclusive education in both public and post-secondary settings with a particular focus on disability studies in education. Cynthia successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Precarious possibilities: Disability, self-advocacy, and university learning" in April 2017. (Supervisor: Dr. Lynn Aylward, Acadia)

Denise Burgess (Class of 2018)

Denise is an elementary educator with over a decade of experience as a classroom, Core French and Learning Center teacher in public schools in Nova Scotia. Before landing in the program, Denise graduated from Mount Saint Vincent with a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Child and Youth Study)-Honours, along with a B.Ed. (Elementary) from Acadia and three M.Ed. degrees; Inclusive Education (Acadia), Educational Leadership Studies (MUN) and Curriculum Studies (MSVU). Denise is interested in researching various aspects of inclusive education. Her doctoral work will focus on teachers' experiences supporting students as they transition to elementary school. (Supervisor: Dr. M. Lynn Aylward, Acadia)

Donna Cabrera (Class of 2017)

Erin Careless (PhD, Class of 2011)

Erin's research explores the way stepmothers learn to navigate their role using the concept of motherwork, with a particular focus on how they learn through participation in a digital community of practice. Her research expands the discourse around mothering, diverse families, online learning, and adult education. Erin successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "It just happened": How motherwork is learned and experienced by Canadian stepmothers in an online support group" in March 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. Patricia Gouthro, MSVU)

Robert Carreau (PhD, Class of 2011)

In 2010, Rob served as a full-time high school principal in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. He earned a MEd degree through StFX in 2004 and 2008, he graduated from Dalhousie University with a MSc in Agriculture. His research interests are in the areas of aboriginal education, science, and instructional leadership. Rob successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "Renewing Acadian-Mi'kmaq partnerships through dialogue, two schools at a time" in March 2016. (Supervisor: Dr. Joanne Tompkins, StFX)

Ellen Carter (Class of 2018)

Christopher Cocek (PhD, Class of 2011)

Chris received his Master of Arts in Education from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2008, where he was awarded the Senate Award of Distinction for Academic Achievement. His research focused on technology and critical thinking with elementary students. Chris is currently an elementary educator in Halifax and is pursuing his doctoral research in the area of teacher professional development and online learning. Chris successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "The informal experience of learning professionally online" in March 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. Lisa Lunney-Borden, StFX) 

Margaret David (Candidate, Class of 2014)

Jacqueline De Leebeeck (Class of 2018)

Kristin Domm (PhD, Class of 2012)

Kristin is a teacher and writer with 27 years' experience teaching language arts and English as a second language in public schools. Kristin writes for adults and children, and her 4th book for children was published in 2010. Her work has appeared in Saltscapes and Cricket magazines. Kristin's writing is anchored by a sense of place. Kristin successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Writing in the key of life: Inquiry into writing processes and pedagogies" in September 2016. (Supervisor: Dr. Lorri Neilsen, MSVU)

Walter Doué (Class of 2017)

Walter is a second-year PhD student in the Inter-University PhD in Educational Studies (St. F.X) program.  He is interested in researching and in the study of teacher ethics in the content areas with regard to the ethics of care and the ethics of justice.  Before landing in the program, Walter graduated from Texas Tech University in 2001 with a M.Ed (Curriculum and Instruction with Major in Literacy).  His thesis concentrated on reading within the family.  He taught in Texas beginning at the elementary level and was working at the university level before returning home.  A Nova Scotian (Cape Bretoner) that lived “away” for over 20 yrs.  He is currently teaching at Cape Breton University ICEAP program (teaching English as a Second Language).  His other educational interest range from being a Certified Social Worker, certified pharmacy tech, grief counselor as well as working with students and adults with special challenge. (Supervisor: Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, StFX)

Elisabeth Ervin-Blankenheim (Class of 2018)

Christina Flemming (Class of 2018)

Margaret Garnier (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Margaret Garnier is the Education Leader for the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Dalhousie University, and has been employed with the medical school since 2006. Her research interests are centered in medical education and lifelong learning, specifically in evaluation, feedback, critical reflection, and curriculum design. She is currently working on how to effectively introduce frequent, low-stakes, entrustment assessments within diagnostic imaging specialties, and is a member of the national working group in Competence by Design for Nuclear Medicine. Margaret joined the PhD program in 2015, and will be looking to give voice to the learner experience in residency training programs that have transitioned to a competency-based medical education curriculum framework for her PhD dissertation. (Supervisor: Dr. Leona English, StFX)

Shawna Garrett (Class of 2017)

Kendra Gottschall (PhD, Class of 2014)

Kendra successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled, "The experience of students with brain injury in post-secondary education: Implications for educational policy and practice" in April 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. David Young, StFX)

Jacqueline Greenough (Candidate, Class of 2014)

Over the past 15 years Jacqueline has worked as an educator in various roles in private, public and post-secondary educational institutions. Jacqueline is keenly interested in representing and empowering traditionally marginalized populations. Her doctoral research will place a focus on looking at asset or competency-based pedagogies, and identity development in vulnerable student populations. (Supervisor: Dr. Mary Jane Harkins, MSVU)

Jennifer Guy (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Greg Hadley (Candidate, Class of 2016)

Gregory R.L. Hadley is a lecturer and third-year PhD candidate in educational studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Prior to commencing doctoral studies, he served as a high school social studies teacher in many small towns across Nova Scotia. His research and teaching interests are in entrepreneurship education, rural education, educational philosophy and inclusive educational practices. His forthcoming dissertation will examine how entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and attitudes are linked with increased citizenship behaviours in selected rural communities in Nova Scotia. His work is supported by the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship for Social Innovation, and has been featured in a variety of academic journals and edited books. (Supervisor: Dr. David Young, StFX)

Brenda Hattie-Longmire (PhD, Class of 2013)

Brenda is interested in queer women's health, queer spirituality and women in the Christian tradition. A part-time faculty member in the Women's Studies Department at the Mount since 2005, Brenda has taught gender studies at Acadia and Dalhousie University. Brenda successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "The role of spirituality and/or religion for queer individuals negotiating homonegative beliefs and values in coming out" in October, 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. Susie Brigham, MSVU)

Heather Hollis (Class of 2018)

Betsy Jardine (PhD, Class of 2011)

Betsy's current interest in linguistic analysis, First Nations’ ontologies, interpretive research, Chaos Theory, transformative learning, open systems and the new biology are indicative of a broader and deeper approach to the ecological crisis. Betsy successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Cultural ways of forming ecological identities and factors affecting their ontologies" in December 2016. (Supervisor: Dr. Alan Warner, Acadia)

Shawn Jolemore (PhD, Class of 2013)

Shawn is a workplace learning and performance professional who administers and advances leadership development programming in the Nova Scotia Health Authority. He holds a MEd in Adult Education (MSVU, 2005) and is a Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP). Shawn is pursuing doctoral research in adult learning and development in the context of physician leadership in healthcare. He defended his dissertation entitled, "Learning to lead in healthcare: A narrative inquiry of physician leadership" in July 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. Patricia Gouthro, MSVU)

Mohamed Kharbach (Candidate, Class of 2014)

Margaret Knickle (Candidate, Class of 2017)

Colin King (PhD, Class of 2013) 

Colin is a certified athletic therapist and instructor in the School of Kinesiology at Acadia University. He received BKin and MEd degrees from Memorial University and a Bachelors of Athletic Therapy from Sheridan College. Colin is currently completing his doctoral research in exploring the use of technology-assisted pedagogy in athletic therapy classrooms. Colin successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "Un'tpack'ing athletic therapy education in Canada: An exploration of an innovative case-based learning approach" in August 2017. (Supervisor: Dr. Gregory MacKinnon, Acadia)

Andras Kocsis (Candidate, Class of 2016)

András holds an MAEd in Studies in Lifelong Learning from MSVU, and is a recipient of the NS Research & Innovation Graduate Scholarships (Doctoral) for conducting reserach in the area of social innovation. His work addresses the problem of purpose in education, through a critical analysis of the influence of neoliberalism on contemporary approaches to education, with particular emphasis on how knowledge and freedom shape teaching. (Supervisor: Dr. Patricia Gouthro, MSVU)

Lyse Anne LeBlanc (PhD, Class of 2011)

Lyse Anne intends to further examine the developmental issues and implications of electronic and digital and critical media literacy in the education of young children. Lyse Anne successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Children's shared understanding of media marketing" in December 2016. (Supervisor: Dr. Daniel Séguin, MSVU)

Garry Leyte (Class of 2015)

Garry Leyte is a career educator and has been a teacher and school administrator for the past 29 years in several schools throughout Newfoundland Labrador. Prior to enrolling in the Inter-University PhD Program in Educational Studies, Garry completed a Masters degree in Education (Literacy) at Mount Saint Vincent University, as well as a Masters degree in Education Administration and Policy at St. Francis Xavier University. Garry describes himself as a critical participatory action researcher, focusing his research interest on how teachers effectively and efficiently collaborate to build capacity and improve student learning and achievement. Garry recently showcased some of his research work at the 2018 St. Francis Xavier University Research Forum. (Supervisor: Dr. David Young, StFX)

Allyson MacDonald (Class of 2016)

Phillip MacEachern (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Wendy Mackey (Candidate, Class of 2016)

Scott MacPhail (Candidate, Class of 2011)

Scott is investigating the history of lifelong learning in Industrial Cape Breton, in particular, the influence that the power relationships between industry, the state, and unions played in its development. He will also examine the changes modern globalization and neoliberal policies are having on lifelong learning in Industrial Cape Breton. Scott successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled, "The Historical Formation of Adult Education Discourses in the Shift from Liberalism to Neoliberalism in July 2019. (Supervisor: Dr. Donovan Plumb, MSVU)

Mary Ellen MacPhee (Class of 2017)

Stephanie Mason (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Michael McGuire (Candidate, Class of 2017)

Martin Morrison (Candidate, Class of 2012)

Sharon Morrison (Class of 2018)

Since 1986, Sharon has been working as an adult educator in the Northwest Territories in areas of teaching, program design, and career development. She graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in 2016 with her Master’s in Adult Education degree. Sharon shared that, although she has always been intrigued about the relationship between people’s life experiences and their level of contentment, her decision to investigate this phenomenon in the PhD program is on her interest to know more about how building and acquiring contentment could be a catalyst to improving health and well-being, and overall quality in one’s life. (Supervisor: Dr. Carole Roy, StFX)

Joel Murphy (Class of 2018)

Késa Munroe-Anderson (PhD, Class of 2011)

Késa research interests include lifelong learning, inclusion, curriculum, storytelling, African Indigenous Knowledge, the African diasporic experience, and all aspects of African Nova Scotian education. Késa successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled, "Set our spirits free: Exploring the role of spirituality as an anti-oppressive agent in the formal education of African Nova Scotian learners" in April 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. Susie Brigham, MSVU)

Yanery Navarro Vigil (Class of 2018)

Liad Neem (Class of 2015)

Joseph Nyemah (Candidate, Class of 2012)

Lawrence Nyika (PhD, Class of 2013)

Lawrence successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "African immigrant secondary school students' participation in health promoting schools: Perspective from Nova Scotia" in June 2017. (Supervisor: Dr. Anne Murray Orr, StFX)

Patrizia Olivieri (Class of 2016)

Lillian Omosa (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Bonnie Petersen (Class of 2018)

Sandra Pickrell Baker (Class of 2015)

Samantha Porter (Class of 2018)

Janet Purvis (Candidate, Class of 2017)

Kevin Redmond (PhD, Class of 2012)

Kevin successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "The experience of dis-placed communities: Mis-placed educational opportunities" in March 2016. (Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Foran, StFX)

Jennifer Rizwan (Class of 2016)

Ingrid Robinson (PhD, Class of 2012)

Ingrid successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Uncovering the stories of Mi'kmaw women educational leaders" in February 2017. (Supervisor: Dr. Robert White, StFX)

Mehrdad Shahidi (Candidate, Class of 2013)

After finishing undergraduate study in clinical psychology and his master's in educational psychology, Mehrdad came to Canada and started a post-graduate program in the field of teacher training at George Brown College.In 2011, he started his second master's degree in child and youth studies at MSVU. He began his PhD in the area of psychological aspects of education in 2013, and finished all courses, comprehensive portfolio, and defended his doctoral dissertation proposal with outstanding marks. Mehrdad has been teaching for more than 20 years at one of Iran's universities. He published five books in psychology in the Persian language, 14 academic papers in English, and recently is working on depression, loneliness, and self-regulation in Canadian and international students. His supervisor is Dr. Fred French.

Anne Steeves (PhD, Class of 2012)

Anne successfully defended her doctoral dissertation in April 2019 entitled, "Focusing-oriented Therapy: Experiential Journeys in Resolving the Resultant Shame of Childhood Sexual Abuse" at Acadia University. Supervisor: Dr. Ron Lehr (retired)

Laura Stiles Clarke (Candidate, Class of 2015)

Katherine Swales (Class of 2016)

Mary Sweatman (PhD, Class of 2014)

Mary’s research interests are in transformative learning experiences, community engagement, empathy and social action.  She received a BRMH from Acadia University, a MA from Dalhousie University and a BEd from Trent University.  Mary has taught in a range of places and spaces, from formal education settings to the woods, from pre-school to university, from environmental education to research methods, from Katmandu to her backyard.  Mary successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "A University's Community Engagement Ethos:Working towards Reciprocal Processes and Public Purposes, in March 2019.  (Supervisor: Dr. Alan Warner, Acadia)

Karl Turner (Candidate, Class of 2012)

William Walters (PhD, Class of 2014)

Bill successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled, "Influence of mentoring on mentors' teaching identity and teaching practice" in March 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. Dan Robinson, StFX)

Debra Wells-Hopey (Class of 2017)

Monica Williams (PhD, Class of 2013)

Monica successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled, "Complexity and coherence: A mixed methods study of educational leadership and the development of leadership standards in Nova Scotia in November 2018. (Supervisor: Dr. Jeff Orr, StFX)

Richard Zurawski (Candidate, Class of 2011)

Richard Zurawski is a meteorologist, writer, guest speaker, university lecturer, published author, independent documentary film producer, teacher, PhD student, instructor, on-air television host, and radio and TV personality. (Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Manning, MSVU)

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