The people who make up the ELSIR lab and work with Dr. Victoria Esses include postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, lab coordinators, honours students, and research assistants.
Lab Director

Victoria M. Esses, Ph.D.

Victoria Esses (PhD, University of Toronto) is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of Western Ontario. She is also Principal Investigator of the Pathways to Prosperity Partnership, a national alliance of university, community and government partners dedicated to fostering welcoming communities and promoting the integration of migrants and minorities across Canada. Dr. Esses has conducted research on immigration and cultural diversity for over 20 years. Her work has covered such topics as factors influencing the settlement and integration of immigrants in Canada; the role of economic and cultural threat and competition in determining attitudes toward immigrants and immigration; the dehumanization of refugees and immigrants; the framing of national identity and public attitudes toward immigration and cultural diversity; and causes and consequences of immigrant unemployment and underemployment in the Canadian labour market. In 2010, Dr. Esses received the Harold Crabtree Foundation Award in Public Policy Research and the Western Faculty Scholar Award for her work in this area.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Karen Dickson, MASP, Ph.D.

Karen Dickson received her B.Sc. (Honours) in Psychology in 2005 and her Masters of Applied Social Psychology in 2007 from Memorial University of Newfoundland. She then worked conducting research in the area of continuing medical education. She began her PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Western Ontario in 2008. Karen’s research interests are in the area of intergroup relations and prejudice. She is particularly interested in how different forms and types of prejudice are perceived in society and the different responses they receive, as well as strategies for reducing prejudice.



Rui Zhang, Ph.D.

Rui Zhang received his PhD in social and cultural psychology at the University of Alberta. His current research interests revolve around psychological responses to cultural change in two contexts. The first context refers to societies undergoing rapid change such as China and his research examines whether a hybrid cultural form is emerging. In the second context of change, he studies the psychological consequences of biculturalism as a result of migration.

Graduate Students

Stelian Medianu, B.A., M.Sc., Ph.D. Candidate

Stelian is a Ph.D. student in the Social Psychology program and the Collaborative Graduate Program in Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of Western Ontario. He completed his B.A. in Psychology at the University of British Columbia in 2008 and his M.Sc. in Social Psychology at the University of Western Ontario in 2010. Stelian has two main lines of research at the moment. First, he is investigating the effects of media on attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. Second, he is examining factors affecting the economic integration of immigrants in Canada with a particular emphasis on the issue of immigrant underemployment.


Mandy DeVaul-Fetters, B.A., M.Sc., Ph.D. Candidate

Mandy is a fourth year PhD candidate in Social Psychology and the Collaborative Graduate Program in Migration & Ethnic Relations at the University of Western Ontario. She completed her B.A. in Psychology at Benedictine College in 2008 and obtained her M.S. in Psychology at the University of Central Missouri in 2010. As a PhD student, her research interests have been in the area of prejudice towards immigrants, refugees and women. For the past two years, her focus has also been on community development, program evaluation and addressing health, fitness, and nutritional disparities among marginalized populations. She has also served on many community advisory boards and volunteered with newcomer youth in various capacities, such as tutoring refugees and facilitating physical activity programs.


Natalia Lapshina, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Candidate

Natalia is a fourth-year Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Psychology and the Collaborative Graduate Program in Migration and Ethnic Relations. Her research program is on Canadians’ attitudes towards immigrants with various cultural backgrounds. In particular, it focuses on hiring decisions and employment discrimination, and perceptions of discrimination claimants depending on their cultural background. She also explores factors that may contribute to these attitudes, and tests strategies for ameliorating negative effects.
Additional lines of Natalia’s research are related to the role of intergroup anxiety in prejudice and discrimination against visible minorities in Canada, and evaluating the effectiveness of various anxiety reduction strategies. Natalia is also involved in collaborative projects with the Department of Sociology and the Ivey Business School.


Kelly Barnes, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Candidate

Kelly completed her B.A. in Psychology from Trinity Christian College in 2008 and her M.A. in Cognitive and Social Processes from Ball State University in 2010. As a PhD candidate and member of the Collaborative Graduate Program in Migration and Ethnic Relations, Kelly studies how Canadian national identity is related to attitudes toward immigrants. She is also interested in the relationship between immigrants' feelings of belonging to Canada and their civic inclusion and engagement.


Alina Sutter, M.Sc., Ph.D. Candidate

Alina received her M.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Zurich, Switzerland in 2012. Broadly, she is interested in researching the relationships between national identity, perceived threat and prejudice as well as the underlying processes and consequences of the dehumanization of outgroups. Alina is also part of the Collaborative Graduate Program in Migration and Ethnic Studies.



Benedetta Bottura, B.A., M.Sc., Ph.D. Candidate

Benedetta is an Italian PhD Student in Social Psychology in the Department of Arts and Literature, History and Social Studies of the University of Parma. She completed her B.A. and M.Sc. in Social Psychology at the University of Parma (Italy) in 2009 with a thesis on Social Representations of National History and national identity. As a PhD candidate, she is working with Prof. Tiziana Mancini (University of Parma, Italy) around two research lines: on forced migration, with a focus on the role of reception procedures in the Italian Asylum System in identity processes in refugees’ resettlement; on the application of the Relative Acculturation Extended Model of Navas and co-workers (2005) for the study of acculturation strategies and attitudes.




Ana Urbiola Vega, B.A., M.Sc., Ph.D. Candidate

Ana is a PhD student in Social Psychology at the University of Granada (UGR), Spain. She completed her degree in Psychology at University of Valencia (UV), Spain, in 2010 and her M.Sc. in Psychology of Social Intervention in 2012. Her research interests are in the area of intergroup relations, prejudice and identity. She is currently investigating how attitudes towards cultural diversity can reduce implicit and explicit prejudice towards Romani people and enhance support of social policies and motivation to social change in the context of inequality.



Pathways to Prosperity Partnership

Communications Manager

Sonali Advani



Finance and Administration Manager

Gale Cassidy


Lab Coordinator

Rachel Nott


Research Assistants

Amy Beaudry
Riddhi Desai
Ted Higginbotham
Bonita Lau
Megan Layfield
Valentina Lim
Adeline Liou
Joshua Lowe
Denisa Luta
Lara Saraiva
Brian VanSchyndel
Sarah Woodward
Toka Zhu