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Lead Researchers

Dr. Bree Akesson, Associate Professor

Research Director

Bree AkessonBree is an Associate Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Social Work. Her research program ranges from micro-level understandings of the experiences of children and families to macro-level projects to strengthen social welfare and mental health systems in crisis-affected countries. For more information, visit Bree’s faculty profile.


Karen Frensch, MSc

Research Manager

Karen FrenschKaren is the research manager for the Global Adversity and Wellbeing Research Group. Previously she was the research project manager for the Partnerships for Children and Families Project (2000-2019) in the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is co-author of the recent book "Necessary but not sufficient: Improving community living for youth after residential mental health programs."




Sediqa Akbari

Scholars At Risk Fellow, Wilfrid Laurier University

Nada Alnaji

Nada Alnaji

  • MD, MPH, PhD Candidate, MSIA Program, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Research Project: Pregnant in Time of Conflict: Assessing Postpartum Depression Among Refugees in Low Resource Settings

Andrew R. Basso

Andrew Basso

  • PhD, University of Calgary
  • SSHRCC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Transitional Justice and the Department of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario

Sohaila Isaqzai

Post Doctoral Fellow, Global Adversity & Wellbeing

 Sohaila Isaqzai

  • PhD. International and Multicultural Education, Florida State University
  • MSc. Sociocultural and International Development Education, Florida State University

Samia El Joueidi

International Research Liaison

 Samia El Joueidi

  • Master of Public Health
  • COVID-19 Research Coordinator, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Alhasnaa Keftaro

Lebanon Field Researcher


  • Educational Management and Leadership, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

Sana Malik

 Sana Malik

  • DrPH, MPH, MSW
  • Assistant Professor, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

Ila Schoop Rutten

Digital Campaigns Manager

Ila Schoop Rutten

  • Master of Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po, Paris

Cindy Sousa

 Cindy Sousa

  • PhD, MPH, MSW
  • Associate Professor, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
  • Dr. Sousa's work focuses on the health implications of violence, particularly related to families; the protective effects of culture, place, and social support; and professional responsibility in the face of collective suffering.

 Rohina Zaffari

Scholars At Risk Fellow, Wilfrid Laurier University

 Rohina Zaffari



Fatmanur Delioglu

Graduate Research Assistant

Fatmanur Delioglu

  • PhD Candidate, Global Governance, Balsillie School of International Affairs

Ali Diebold

Senior Research Assistant

Ali Diebold
  • PhD Candidate in Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University

Kimia Habibyar

Research Assistant

Kimia Habibyar
  • MA, Gender and Women's Studies, York University
  • Bachelor of Medicine, Herat University, Afghanistan

Denisa Suteu

MSW Research Placement Student

Denisa Suteu

  • Masters of Social Work Candidate, Wilfrid Laurier University

Alumni (Student Research Assistants)

Nahal Aboutorabi

Averi Augier

Razia Ashrafi

Ruby Atesoglu

Dena Badawi

Ramy Barhouche

Patrick Ciaschi

Laura Cobham

Kearney Coupland

Megan Culyer

Lauren Hawthorne

Esther Herschberger

Massara Hikmat

Rebecca Hirsch

Christine Khalil

Yi Lin Li

Anahid Shirkhodaee

Saranki Sivan

Paige Slight

Contact Us:

Bree Akesson, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work


Karen Frensch, Research Manager, Global Adversity and Wellbeing Research Group