Graduate Students

Aaron Shephard (MSc)

Experimental Psychology (PhD)


I am a graduate student enrolled in Dalhousie's Experimental Psychology program. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of New Brunswick, where my honours thesis focused on addressing binge drinking in university populations. My research interests pertain to substances of abuse, particularly focusing on gaining a greater understanding of the mechanisms behind substance use. Currently, I am conducting a couple studies under the supervision of Dr. Barrett. One study is focused on investigating the link between alcohol and smoking, particularly the reasons why individuals tend to smoke more when consuming alcohol. The second study is focused on investigating the effects of cues and expectancy on caffeine craving and withdrawal symptoms.

Aaron Shephard

Toni Spinella (MSc)

Clinical Psychology (PhD)

I am a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Dalhousie. My research is guided by a multi-disciplinary approach, encompassing aspects of behavioural neuroscience and various psychological processes.  My research primarily focuses on examining the role of craving in substance misuse and dependence.  I am particularly interested in the mechanisms involved in the maintenance of addictive behaviour and relapse in humans. While my work is not limited to the examination of a single substance, I have a notable interest in the implications of marijuana.  Cumulative experiences in post-secondary education have facilitated my passion for intersectional mental health advocacy.  I believe that lived experience is a necessary component required to inform knowledge gaps, and the real-world applications of research findings.  Even when I’m busy I try to make time for a few of the other things I enjoy: exploring different coffee shops in the city, playing soccer, and navigating my creativity through writing and sketching. 


Toni Spinella

Robin Perry 

Clinical Psychology (PhD)


I am a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program here at Dalhousie. I am interested in studying the neurobiology of addiction and related psychopathology. My current research uses fMRI to clarify the neural mechanisms underlying responses to pharmacological and non-pharmacological components of drug use. I hope my work will lead to an improved understanding of the neural processes that drive addictive behaviour and contribute to the development of dependence. In my spare time, I enjoy going out to see live music, exploring the outdoors and doing yoga.

Mikaela Ethier-Gagnon (BSc Hons)

Psychiatry Research (MSc)


I am a graduate student in the Psychiatry Research MSc program at Dalhousie University. I recently completed a BSc Honours in Neuroscience and Mental Health with a minor in Psychology at Carleton University. Throughout my honours thesis, I had the opportunity to study experiences of early life adversity and its associations with mental health in adulthood. This work cultivated a deep passion for further understanding the brain, and an eclectic range of knowledge under the neuropsychological umbrella. My current research involves the use of fMRI to understand the non-pharmacological effects of cannabis on subjective stress, craving and related neural responses. I am hopeful that this work may further elucidate the link between substance use and psychiatric disease. Also, I aspire to reduce stigma associated with mental health and addiction and assess gaps in treatment. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, visiting coffee shops and thrift stores, and travelling

Previous Graduate Students

Hera Schlagintweit, PhD 

Annie Chinneck, PhD 

Marcel Peloquin, PhD 

Megan McLarnon, PhD

Daniel McGrath, PhD 

Janine Olthuis, PhD 

Sean Roach, PhD