The people who make up the ELSIR lab and work with Dr. Victoria Esses include postdoctoral fellows, graduate students , the lab coordinator , the Pathways to Prosperity Partnership staff , 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; 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 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

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

Stelian received his Ph.D. in social psychology from University of Western Ontario in 2014. His specialization is in the area of migration and ethnic relations. Stelian is currently involved in several projects. First, he is working on a MITACS project which aims to   promote interagency collaboration in order to improve immigrant integration. Second, he is part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers exploring the provision of information as a fundamental component of assisting immigrants with their settlement needs. Finally, he investigates the effects of media on attitudes toward immigrants and refugees.


Graduate Students

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.



Joshua D. Wright, B.A., B.S., M.A., Ph.D. Candidate

Joshua Wright received Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Texas Tech University in 2012, and his M.A. at Hunter College of the City University of New York in 2014. His past research has included the effect of relationship styles on interpersonal violence, HICLAS methods of exploring relationships between selves, and how identity affects aggressive behavior. Broadly, Joshua’s research currently explores how perceived threats toward one’s social identities affect responses to those threats. Currently Joshua is exploring how within-person and situational factors might moderate the relationship between perceived threats and aggressive responses under threat. Further information on Joshua’s research interests can be viewed at his website. .



Clint Thomson , A.A., B.A. (Hons.), M.Sc. Candidate

Born and raised on the West Coast, Clint holds an Associate Degree from Douglas College and a B.A. (Hons) from Simon Fraser University where he studied under Dr. Stephen Wright. In his Honours research, he utilized concepts from Social Identity Theory and the Cross-Group contact literature to better identify ways to help international students integrate into life at university. He hopes to expand upon this research in his Master’s work, while also broadening his understanding of issues pertinent to Migration and Ethnic Relations. In his spare time, Clint is a musician, runner, and an avid follower of the Vancouver Canucks. He is very excited to be continuing his studies at Western.


Pathways to Prosperity Partnership

Communications Manager

Sonali Advani



Finance and Administration Manager

Gale Cassidy


Lab Coordinator

Rachel Nott


Research Assistants

Amy Beaudry
Jennifer Clay
Sydney Eaton
Ted Higginbotham
Maya Ingrao
Jessica Jin
Ben Khoo
Christopher Kowalski
Connor Lewicki
Brenna Lindsay
Erika Malana
Jacek Orzylowski
Larissa Rammeloo
Kelly Swan
Sarah Woodward
Rosella Yuen