Principal Investigator

Jill Zwicker

Dr. Jill G. Zwicker

Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) | Pediatric Brain Development and Rehabilitation

Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia

Associate Member in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of Developmental Pediatrics)
Investigator at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Clinician Scientist at Sunny Hill Health Centre at BC Children's Hospital
Associate Investigator at Kids Brain Health Network

Research Associate at CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research

Chair of the International Society of Research in Developmental Coordination Disorder

Chair of the Organizing Committee for DCD-14 – the International Conference for DCD to be held in Vancouver in July 2022 

Dr. Zwicker has 25+ years of clinical experience as an occupational therapist and is an internationally recognized expert in Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). She established the first research-integrated diagnostic clinic for DCD in Canada to facilitate diagnosis of this under-recognized disorder and conducted some of the first brain imaging studies of children with DCD. 

Fun Facts: Jill enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as her two rescue dogs from Maui. Jill likes to work out regularly, and has recently walked a full marathon in Hawaii and learned to row.

Phone: 604-875-2345 ext. 5948

To learn more about Dr. Zwicker, consult:

Research Staff

Gisela Gosse

Gisela Gosse

Study Coordinator

Gisela is the primary contact for our ongoing MRI studies. She works with families and children over the 6-month period of the study. She enjoys hearing how the child has progressed with their 3 goals over that time!

Fun Facts: Gisela enjoys swimming in oceans, lakes or rivers throughout the year (almost daily in the summer and 2 times a week in the winter, depending on the weather).

Phone: 604-875-2345 ext. 4959

Sara Leckie

Sara Leckie

Study Coordinator

Sara coordinates the JUMP for DCD study and other ongoing research in the lab. 

Fun Facts: Sara enjoys playing outdoors with her family, especially hiking, climbing, or soccer.

Phone: 604-875-2345 ext. 6417

Jane Shen

Research Coordinator

Jane manages the DCD Research database and data for related projects.

Phone: 604-875-2000 ext. 6535

Current Trainees

Melika Kangarani Farahani

Melika Kangarani Farahani

PhD Candidate and Occupational Therapist

Melika studied Bachelor and Master of Occupational Therapy in Iran. She worked as a pediatric occupational therapist for more than 10 years and then decided to continue her PhD at UBC. She has recently moved to Canada and is trying so hard to adjust to the culture. Not being a registered OT in Canada but having the passion to work with kids, Melika has started working as a behavioural interventionist with kids with autism. As for research, she focuses on brain changes after rehabilitation in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and DCD. 

Fun Facts: Melika enjoys playing the traditional Persian musical instrument, the Santoor; doing crafts and paintings.

Patricia Mortenson

Registered Occupational Therapist, MSc (Rehabilitation Science), PhD student 

Patricia completed both her BSc in Occupational Therapy and MSc in Rehabilitation Degrees at UBC, and after a long gap, has returned for doctoral studies. She has worked in paediatric OT practice for over 25 years, instructs in the UBC Rehabilitation Sciences Online Programs and is also currently involved in a project to support patient-oriented research for the Neuromuscular Disease Network for Canada. Her PhD work will focus on the occupational and participation needs for children with neuromuscular conditions, particularly Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Fun Facts: Patricia volunteers with the Girl Guides of Canada (cookies anyone?) and enjoys hiking and baking.

Victoria Rapos

PhD Student

Victoria completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario before moving out to British Columbia. Victoria’s interest with children with DCD began during her master’s where she examined obstacle crossing behaviours between young adults, typically developing children, and children with DCD. Victoria’s PhD research focuses on understanding brain, balance, and coordination in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). By comparing neural activity to coordination during locomotion Victoria hopes to identify the underlying mechanisms of DCD. Victoria was fortunate enough to receive an NSERC PGS-D scholarship which motivates her to continue higher-level thinking and will support her throughout the next few years.

Fun Facts: When not in the lab Victoria enjoys finding new and challenging hikes around Vancouver! Victoria was also a dance instructor for many years including volunteering with Movin’ and Groovin’, an activity class focusing on fundamental movement skills, dance, and social skills in children with a disability.

Olivia Tsihlias

MSc student in Rehabilitation Science

Olivia received her Bachelor of Science degree with an Honours Specialization in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science at the University of British Columbia. Throughout Olivia’s undergraduate degree, she developed a strong interest in motor skills and motor development. She is very passionate about giving all children the ability to participate and develop through sport and play and is keen to study how occupational therapy interventions change the function and microstructure of the brain in children with DCD.

Fun Facts: Olivia enjoys skiing, sailing, soccer, football, and loves all outdoor activities. She is a big foodie and loves trying new and foreign foods.

Former Trainees

Myrah Malik

Master of Science (Rehabilitation Science), 2021

Myrah received her Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University. She enjoys working with children with neurodevelopmental disorders which led her to pursue a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science at the University of British Columbia. Her research focused on studying grey matter differences in children with developmental coordination disorder compared to typically developing children. As she strived to pursue a career in occupational therapy, she also investigated how rehabilitation intervention can lead to changes in the grey matter structure of the brain to further advocate for evidence-based rehabilitation intervention. Myrah is currently at the University of Alberta pursuing a MSc in Occupational Therapy to become an occupational therapist.

Fun Facts: Known for her family-famous apple pie, Myrah enjoys living an active and healthy lifestyle, and working with organizations to create inclusive recreational programs for children of all abilities.

Kamaldeep Gill

Dr. Kamaldeep Gill

 Registered Occupational Therapist and PhD (Rehabilitation Science), 2021

Kamal received her Bachelor of Kinesiology from University of the Fraser Valley and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from University of Alberta. Kamal’s primary research focus is studying the brain differences, specifically differences in a brain region known as the cerebellum in children with DCD compared to typically developing children. Further, she investigates whether rehabilitation leads to changes in the structure of the cerebellum. Over the last few years, she has also been involved in creating a mouse model of DCD, which will lead us to look into the genetic cause of DCD in the near future.
Fun Facts: When she is not researching, she enjoys running, hiking, and baking.

Sara Izadi-Najafabadi

Dr. Sara Izadi-Najafabadi

Occupational Therapist and PhD (Rehabilitation Science), 2021

Sara received her Bachelor and Master of Occupational Therapy from Iran. She worked as a pediatric occupational therapist for a few years and then joined the Zwicker lab as a PhD student. Sara focused on brain changes after rehabilitation in children with DCD. She also collaborated with Shie to understand the effect of brain stimulation using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on motor learning of these children. Outside the lab, she has been involved in advocating for graduate students with disability at UBC and learning more about how science informs decisions and policy-making in the government of Canada. Sara is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Applied Research to Cancer Control (ARCC) at BC Cancer Agency.

Fun Facts: For fun, Sara enjoys cooking and biking.

Erin Klein

Erin Klein

Occupational Therapist and Master of Science (Rehabilitation Science), 2021

Erin’s research evaluates the physical, social, emotional and financial impacts of DCD on families and children in British Columbia. For the past 18 years, she has worked as a clinical occupational therapist, working with children with special needs and their families. She decided to go back to school to explore other opportunities and expand her knowledge and skills. It’s been a busy time balancing school and a family but she has enjoyed these new challenges.

Shie Rinat

Occupational Therapist and Master of Science (Rehabilitation Science), 2019

Shie is an occupational therapist from Israel. As an OT, she worked at a child development clinic and at the Rehabilitation Unit, Neurology and Neurosurgery Units at Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel. She joined Zwicker’s lab as a master’s student in the Rehabilitation Sciences Program in September 2017. Her main research project was to investigate functional brain networks of children with DCD, to better understand the neural characteristics of DCD. In addition, she was involved in a project that aims to investigate feeding behaviours of preterm infants as a predictor of DCD. She also collaborated with Sara to investigate the effectiveness of brain stimulation using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in improving motor learning among children with DCD. Shie is now pursuing her PhD at UBC.

Fun Facts: Outside the lab, she enjoys hiking, gardening and cooking. 

Meisan Brown-Lum

Master of Science (Rehabilitation Science), 2017 

As part of her Master's thesis, Meisan examined brain microstructure in children with DCD and how it compared to brain microstructure of typically developing children. Meisan is now working at the Institutional Programs Office, Office of the VP Research and Innovation, UBC.

Ivonne Montgomery

Registered Occupational Therapist and Master of Rehabilitation Science, 2017

Cheryl Sabarre

Registered Occupational Therapist and Master of Rehabilitation Science, 2013

Elizabeth Makepeace

Registered Occupational Therapist and Master of Rehabilitation Science, 2013

Kim Durlacher

Registered Occupational Therapist and Master of Rehabilitation Science, 2013