Aging, Community and Health Research Group (ACHRU)

McMaster University

Education & Mentoring

Training is a top priority for the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU). The research unit provides extensive capacity development, training and mentorship opportunities for students, postdoctoral fellows and new investigators. Trainees are integrated into all aspects of the research program, including protocol development and implementation, data collection and analysis, training of intervention personnel, report writing, presenting results at conferences and publishing papers. The Co-PIs and other co-applicants have extensive experience supervising graduate students and supporting their scholarly work, and will take on training, mentorship and supervisory roles.

Learn more about the experience of our students by watching our capacity building video 

Training Opportunities

Training opportunities are in the areas of:

  1. Designing, implementing, evaluating, and translating new and innovative health interventions;
  2. Health services research; research with older adults with MCC and their family caregivers; quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods; pragmatic randomized controlled trials; analysis of secondary databases; sex- and gender-based analysis; and integrated knowledge translation and exchange activities; and
  3. Developing skills in working within a multidisciplinary research team involving health system decision-makers.

Current Trainees

Name Position Department Organization Bio
Megan Barker RPN to BScN Student School of Nursing McMaster University

Megan is interested in community programs and increasing supports for vulnerable populations in the community. She hopes to continue her educational pursuit through a post-graduate program at McMaster once completing the RPN to BScN program.

Ashley Cornish PhD Student in Nursing Faculty of Nursing University of Alberta

Ashley's area of study: Health Policy

Lisa De Panfilis Master of Science in Nursing student McMaster University School of Nursing

Lisa's area of study is mental health and illness accross the lifespan, specifically in primary care and community settings.

Anna Garnett PhD Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University

Anna Garnett is a PhD student in the School of Nursing at McMaster working with Dr. Jenny Ploeg on comorbidities in older adults residing in a community setting. Her background is in community nursing. She will begin a new position as an assistant professor in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western University beginning July 1, 2019.

Kara Jonas Undergraduate Nursing Student School of Nursing McMaster University

Kara is interested in the nurse's role in supporting clients across the lifespan with MCC, especially within the primary health care and palliative care domains. 

Patricia Julian Master of Science in Nursing Student School of Nursing McMaster University
Patricia Julian is an RN with experience in general medicine, cardiac surgery and vascular surgery. Patricia is interested in family caregivers' experiences caring for older adults living with dementia and/or delirium. 


Melissa Northwood PhD Nursing (PT) student, Assistant Clinical Professor McMaster University

Melissa Northwood is a nurse continence advisor who is aware of the challenges diabetes educators face in helping people with diabetes achieves the best possible control of their disease. In this position, she’s noticed incontinence is not included in diabetes clinical practice guidelines and nurses don’t always have the tools, or experience, they need to best support patients. A recipient of the Registered Nurses’ Foundation of Ontario Mary Ann Murphy Memorial Diabetes Award, Melissa will be undertaking research as part of her dissertation with hopes of finding new ways to close this gap. Initially, she uncovered a gap in the quantitative research literature on the prevalence and correlates of incontinence and diabetes, a lack of understanding of the care needs of older adults with diabetes related to incontinence, how health care professionals working with people with diabetes manage incontinence, and how best to provide nursing care to manage both conditions. “The outcome of my research will be to design a potential nursing intervention to manage both diabetes and incontinence in a community setting,” she said. “Receiving this award has made a significant contribution to my expenses as a student in order to be able to pursue this line of research.” Northwood is a PhD Nursing part-time student at McMaster University and Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing. She has worked as a clinical nurse specialist, Continence Care Clinics, at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton as well as in palliative care, complex continuing care, outpatient geriatric medicine and geriatric assessment and rehabilitation. She has held executive positions with numerous organizations serving as Provincial Professional Advocacy Director of the Gerontological Nursing Association Ontario and chair of its Political Action Committee. Melissa successfully completed and defended two comprehensive papers related to multimorbidity and plans to publish them.

Loreen Pollard PhD Student University of Alberta
Carly Whitmore PhD Student

Area of study is community dwelling older adults with depressive symptoms and multiple chronic conditions

Marie-Lee Yous PhD Student McMaster University, School of Nursing

Marie-Lee's area of study is older adults with multiple chronic conditions. She is also interested in the nursing experience of caring for older adults with dementia living with responsive behaviours in acute care.

Past Trainees

Name Position Department Organization Bio
Rashid Ahmed Masters of Science Student, Research Coordinator McMaster University

Rashid's area of study: Health economics

Pardeep Ark Undergraduate Business Student DeGroote School of Business McMaster University

As a student in the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, Pardeep Ark never imagined that working in a research unit would open his eyes to other prospects in the business world. Pardeep used his business skills to assist in the development of a costing manual which estimates costs for health and social services that are included in intervention studies currently underway in the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU). Officially known as the ACHRU Health and Social Service Utilization (ON) costing manual and methodology report, it examines costs for a range of services– acupuncture, biofeedback, hospital stays, emergency room visits, community care – used by adults 65 years of age and older with multiple health problems.

Katie Aubrecht CIHR Post-doctoral Fellow Mount Saint Vincent University

Katie Aubrecht, PhD, is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow, Mount Saint Vincent University, and Research Coordinator at the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging. Katie’s research uses sociological theory and qualitative research methods to examine the social and political significance of ‘person-centred’ dementia care paradigm

Sue Bookey-Bassett Research and Development Leader Bickle Center University Health Network

Sue's area of study: Interprofessional Collaboration for Chronic Disease Management for Community-Living Older Adults

Leslie Brugger Undergraduate Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University

Leslie is currently working in clinical placement at Brantford General Hospital in the complex medicine and stroke department. Her interests are around cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and nutrition.

Lisa Chalkin Undergraduate Student School of Nursing McMaster University
Kristina Chang Masters Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University

Kristina Chang chose to pursue a career in nursing because of her passion for working one-on-one with people, helping them maintain and regain their health. Kristina, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree, is a graduate student in the Master of Science program – thesis based at McMaster University and works as a research assistant in the university’s Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU. After completing an undergraduate nursing degree at Western University, where she was on the Dean’s Honors list in the Faculty of Health Sciences, she worked for two years as a staff nurse in the general medical unit at Credit Valley Hospital. 

Won Yong Choi Student Research Intern Faculty of Health Sciences McMaster University

Won is interested in the contextual determinants of health.

Sinéad Dufour Assistant Clinical Professor School of Rehabilitation Science, School of Nursing McMaster University

Sinead's area of study: Community-based primary health care

Cathy Dykeman MPH Student/Practicum in Public Health, Public Health Nurse Health Department The Regional Municipality of Halton

Cathy's areas of study include falls prevention & MCC in older adults

Mercedes Ehman Undergraduate Student School of Nursing McMaster University
Montana Fisher-Shotton Undergraduate Kinesiology Student

Montana is an undergraduate kinesiology student at McMaster University, with many possible paths she has contemplated going down in the future. Working in ACHRU provides Montana with opportunities to broaden her scope of knowledge and expose her to new fields of practice. She looks forward to seeing where her work with ACHRU leads her down the road.


Brittany Friesen Undergraduate Nursing Student

Brittany is interested in the narrative aspects of health care along with the exploration of international community & health practices

Erin Furdas Undergraduate Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster

Erin has done clinical placements in Neurosurgery, ABI Rehab, Maternity, Elementary schools, and community health centres.

Rebecca Ganann Assistant Professor School of Nursing, Co-Investigator ACHRU School of Nursing McMaster University

Rebecca Ganann is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at McMaster University and ACHRU Co-Investigator. She is a recipient of a CIHR Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship with research interests that include primary health care, knowledge translation, addressing health inequities, immigrant women's health, and chronic disease prevention and management. She is also interested in evaluating integrated knowledge translation approaches with stakeholders in older adults with multiple chronic conditions. 

Read about her postdoc experience here

Lisa Garland Baird PhD Student Faculty of Nursing University of Alberta

Lisa's area of study includes Integrated Home Care of Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions

Charmaine Holland Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) Student

Charmaine’s true passion for the elderly generation reflects in her academic, volunteer, and extracurricular endeavours. Having a desire to become a geriatric physician, she hopes to inspire others to follow along the same path  albeit one less travelled  through the golden field of geriatrics.

Kevin Hong BScN Graduate School of Nursing McMaster University

Kevin's area of study: Diabetes & Older Adults with MCC

Sarah I PhD Student in Nursing, CRC Chair Trainee School of Nursing McMaster University

Sarah's area of study: Development of a tool to measure fidelity to treatment

David Kanters Masters Student in Health Research Methodology CE&B McMaster University

David’s areas of interest include multimorbidity and randomized controlled trials.

Rojin Karimi MSc Student in e-Health DeGroote School of Business McMaster University

Rojin's areas of interest include mobile health technology, health management information systems and data mining and data analysis.

Kristina Kokorelias Undergraduate Student in Gerontology McMaster University
Annie Lam Masters Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University

Long before Annie Lam began her Master of Science in Nursing studies in geriatric care and dementia at McMaster University, she understood the healing qualities that art, music and poetry played in improving the lives of elderly patients. “I think there is great potential for the profession of nursing to combine multiple art forms,” she said. “It becomes increasingly important as we continue to develop new programs, services and innovations to provide comprehensive, holistic care in the elderly.” As an undergraduate nursing student, Annie and other students were asked to complete assignments that were creative reflections of their experiences in both volunteering and nursing. Using watercolour and ink, she created a portrait of an elderly woman with dementia. She also used Indian ink to illustrate the brain, immersing it in water to bleed and blur. Once dry – shriveled up and wrinkled  - it became a realistic representation of the brain of a person with dementia. “I continue to do art to help express my passions for gerontological nursing, particularly dementia care and end-of-life care,” she said. 

Meghna Mahajan Undergraduate Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University
Lori Martin Undergraduate Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University
Rey Omar Mina Undergraduate Student in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University
Maverick Mooney Undergraduate Nursing Student

Maverick Mooney is a third year undergraduate nursing student at the Mohawk-McMaster Site. He is currently exploring various options for his future career.

Heather Moquin Post-Doctoral Fellow Faculty of Nursing University of Alberta

Heather's area of study: Family caregiver experience

Danielle Nash PhD Student in Health Research Methodology Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics McMaster University

Danielle's area of study: Chronic kidney disease quality of care/ patient centred care

Hannah O'Rourke PhD Student in Nursing Faculty of Nursing University of Alberta

Hannah's area of interest: Quality of life for people with dementia

Andrew Perrella Undergraduate Student, BHSc McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences

Andrew's area of study: The perceptions of MCC among older adults and clinicians.

Holly Reimer Research Coordinator/ CRC Chair Trainee (Post-Doctoral Fellow) School of Nursing McMaster University

Holly's area of study: Older Adults with MCC

Tom Sawyer Undergraduate Student School of Nursing McMaster University
Colette Schotsman Undergraduate Student in Creative Industries Ryerson University
Khadeeja Sheikh Master Student McMaster University
Sara Valvasori Undergraduate Nursing Student

Sara Valvasori is a 4th year undergraduate nursing student at McMaster University. She is excited to be working with ACHRU, and learning more about research.

Cage Van Raay Undergraduate Student School of Nursing McMaster University
Alexandra Vickers Undergraduate Student in Nursing School of Nursing University of Ottawa
Michelle Ward Master Student McMaster University
Leah West Undergraduate Student, BScN in nursing McMaster University
Tracy Wildeman NP Master’s Student Nursing University of Alberta

My passion is geriatrics, specifically dementia care and support for caregivers.

Conrad Worrall Undergraduate Nursing Student McMaster University
Amina Wu Undergraduate Student, BScN in Nursing School of Nursing McMaster University

Amina's area of study: Managing MCC in Older Adults

Jilan Yang Post-Doctoral Fellow McMaster University

Jilan's area of study: Family caregiver experience

Michael Zoratti Masters Student in Health Research Methodology, Research Assistant McMaster University

Michael's area of study: Health Technology Assessment

Publications and Activities relating to this study:

Celebrating Our Trainee’s Accomplishments

Congratulations to graduate student trainees Patricia Julian, Melissa Northwood, Carly Whitmore, and Marie-Lee Yous for receiving McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences Graduate Programs Excellence Award.

Read More

New Series of Brochures on Patient and Public Engagement

If you’re a patient, caregiver, or community member who would like to get involved as a research partner, here’s what you need to know to get started.

Read More

Carly Whitmore Awarded a Vanier Scholarship

Congratulations to our PhD student trainee on receiving this prestigious award.

Read More