We are thankful to work with a team of talented and inspiring students.

Read more about them below.  

Rob Linkedin.jpeg

Robert Colonna

2nd year PhD student

Robert is a second-year PhD student in the field of Health Promotion at Western University under the mentorship of Dr. Alvarez. He recently completed a Master's degree in Rehabilitation Science in 2019 also in the i-Mobile Lab , and an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences (Specialization in Health Promotion, Minor in Economics) in 2017 at Western University. 


Robert's emerging scholarly work is motivated by the potential to improve public health through road safety interventions. Specifically, his research investigates driving under the influence of cannabis among young Canadian drivers. He is involved in many research and leadership initiatives within the road safety community. He is on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals and is the current Chair of their Young Professionals' Committee. 


Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship

April Vander Veen

1st year PhD student

April Vander Veen is a first-year PhD student (Fall of 2020). April completed her MSc in Occupational Therapy at Western and has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2011, the last 7 years in acute stroke. April’s research interests include stroke and return to driving.

Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship


Shabnam Medhizadah

1st year PhD student

Shabnam Medhizadah is a first year PhD student in the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program in the field of occupational science, under the mentorship of Dr. Alvarez. She completed her Master of Science in the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program at Western University in 2016. Shabnam is currently a fellow and member of the core editorial team of OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health.

Shabnam's emerging scholarly work has focused on examining the fitness to drive of medically at-risk drivers and providing evidence-informed screening tools, assessments and/or interventions. Her research interests also include the social determinants of community mobility, and the influence of transportation policies on the participation of vulnerable populations.

Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship

Rebecca Henderson

PhD candidate

Rebecca completed her Masters of Science in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Western University, and is her final year of the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program. She recently transferred to the i-Mobile Driving Research Lab to complete her doctoral dissertation under the mentorship of Dr. Alvarez. Rebecca sits on the Cycling Advisory Committee for the City of London and is a Board Director at London Cycle Link, a non-profit dedicated to building a bike-friendly city.

Rebecca's research interests include bicyclist fatalities in Ontario, motor-vehicle-bicycle collisions in London, ON, and social practice discourses on motivators and deterrents to cycling in London, ON.

Funding: MITACS, City of London


Melissa Knott

4th year PhD candidate

Melissa is a 4th year PhD Candidate in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, in the Occupational Science field at Western University. She previously completed her Masters in Occupational Therapy at Western University and has practiced as an Occupational Therapist and a Canadian Certified Life Care Planner for the past 12 years. She completed her BSc in Kinesiology with the Neurobehavioural Assessment Option, at the University of Waterloo. Melissa is currently the Assistant Editor for OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, and she served a term as an elected Graduate Student Senator at Western University. She is a Mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of London and Area and serves on the Board of Directors with L’Arche London.


Melissa’s current research focuses on driving performance of shift workers experiencing insufficient sleep and interventions to address the impacts of driving-related anxiety. Melissa is supervised by Dr. Sherrilene Classen (University of Florida), and is mentored on-site by Dr. Alvarez.


Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship

Radhika Sultania

1st year master's student

Radhika is a first-year master’s student in the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program at Western University. She works under the mentorship of Dr. Alvarez in the i-Mobile Driving Research Lab. She previously completed her Bachelor of Science in biology at Western University. During her time in university, Radhika has worked closely with individuals with Parkinson’s disease at Parkinson Canada and volunteered with Students Offering Support to help raise donations for projects such as building schools, in developing countries.


Radhika’s research interests include studying the effect of in-vehicle technology on driving performance for people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, to improve their community mobility and quality of life.