WHO ARE WE?

The British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Play Outside UBC Lab

Play Outside Lab is a team of researchers dedicated to studying children’s outdoor risky play and injury prevention.

The lab is led by Dr. Mariana Brussoni. We are based at the University of British Columbia and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

You can read more about our research here. You can also check out publications and other resources, including media features and mentions related to our work. The News & Events section of our website will tell you more about what we’re up to, including any upcoming discussions or workshops about outdoor risky play that we might be taking part in or organizing.

If you’d like to connect with us on social media, using the links provided below – we’d love to hear from you!

Dr. Mariana Brussoni 

Dr. Mariana Brussoni is Director of the Human Early Learning Partnership, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada. She is an investigator with the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the British Columbia Injury Research & Prevention Unit. Mariana is a founding member and on the board of Outdoor Play Canada.

Mariana is a developmental psychologist whose award-winning research investigates child injury prevention and children’s risky play, focusing on parent and caregiver perceptions of risk, and design of outdoor play-friendly environments – with a special focus on promoting equitable access to outdoor play. After years spent examining child injury statistics and researching injury prevention, Mariana became interested in the intersection between injury prevention, risk taking and outdoor play, concerned that well-meaning attempts to keep children safe were putting too many limits on children’s play despite the fact that serious injuries are rare. She partners with practitioners and policy makers in early childhood education, schooling, municipal planning and recreation provision, with the aim of creating environments where all children thrive in healthy societies. She has published her research extensively and has been widely featured in international media.

Book Dr. Brussoni and Play Outside UBC Lab members as Speakers

Dr. Brussoni and Play Outside UBC Lab members are available for speaking engagement. Please provide a minimum of two months notice prior to your event.  

Current Team Members

Christina Han

Research Coordinator

Christina Han is a social science researcher working with Dr. Brussoni as Research Coordinator and Lab Manager. With expertise in qualitative and mixed-methods research, Christina oversees multiple research studies, from implementation to data analysis. Christina is committed to advancing knowledge on childhood development and outdoor play, particularly children’s autonomy building. She has a collection of over 30 peer-refereed articles. (ResearchGate).

Dawn Mount

Research Coordinator

Dawn Mount is coordinating the PROmoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO) 1.0 study in partnership with the YMCA, as well as the PRO-ECO 2.0 study. She has over 10 years of experience working in pediatric research, focusing on prevention and clinical practice improvements. Dawn’s background is in early childhood education and psychology. She is passionate about community-oriented initiatives that empower children and families to live their best lives.

Rachel Ramsden

Research Coordinator

Rachel is a Research Coordinator at the Play Outside Lab and a PhD Candidate in the School of Population and Public Health. As a member of the Play Outside Lab team, Rachel is the MECO study lead and supports the PRO-ECO 1.0 and 2.0 projects. Her dissertation research examines outdoor environments and children’s outdoor play using mixed-methods, participatory-planning approaches with children. Rachel previously worked in community planning and child care design, and holds a Masters degree in Public Health (2016) and a Bachelors of Kinesiology (2013). She enjoys playing outside by exploring BC’s trails, running with her dog and participating community soccer team.

Mehdi Shirmaleki

Biostatistician

Mehdi Shirmaleki is an experienced data scientist skilled in statistical analysis, machine learning, and data visualization. With a Master’s degree in Statistics and a minor in Computer Science, he transforms complex data into actionable insights. Proficient in Python, R, SQL, SAS, Tableau, and Power BI; he has worked in healthcare and enjoys interdisciplinary collaboration.

Dalia Vukmirovich

Research Mobilizer

Dalia Vukmirovich works with Dr. Brussoni at the Play Outside Lab and the Human Early Learning Partnership (University of British Columbia). Her interests include making research and information accessible. Dalia completed her MA in Sociology at Simon Fraser University, and has worked on Health and Social Science research at UBC, SFU, University of Victoria and City of Vancouver. She has also worked in tourism and marine transportation sectors, non-profit arts and the film industry.

Emily Fox

Research Assistant

Emily Fox recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology. She is also a Research Assistant for the PRO-ECO study. Emily is interested in how reframing risk in outdoor play influences children’s self-efficacy and risk-taking behaviours.

Chelsea Williams

Research Assistant

Chelsea Williams recently completed her undergraduate degree in Microbiology & Immunology at the University of British Columbia. Chelsea’s keen interest in the Brussoni Lab’s research stems from her previous experience working with children in various educational and sports-based settings. Currently, she assists the team with the PRO-ECO study. With her interests in pediatric and women’s reproductive health, Chelsea hopes to pursue a career in medicine in the future.

Hebah Hussaina

Graduate Student

Hebah Hussaina is an MSc. student at the University of British Columbia, in the Women+ and Children’s Health Sciences Program. She has a strong background in pediatric health sciences research in a variety of settings. Hebah assists with multiple research studies across the lab, and is passionate about supporting healthy child development through community action and empowerment.

 

Megan Zeni

Graduate Student

Megan Zeni is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at UBC. Her research interests include developing professional learning communities with in-service teachers to bridge emerging theories with teaching practices that include unstructured outdoor play as a pedagogical approach. Megan has over 25 years of experiences as a professional educator, and currently teaches in a public school outdoor and garden classroom. To learn more about her work, visit: www.meganzeni.com.

Breann Corcoran

Graduate Student

Breann Corcoran is a PhD student in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC.  She has 15 years of experience working with local health authorities in BC in community development and community engagement roles.  She currently works part-time with BC Cancer’s Screening & Prevention team and is particularly interested in neighbourhood design to support healthy child development.  More recently Breann’s work has focused on the use of shade as a design tool for skin cancer prevention in early childhood settings. 

Julia Lukacs

Graduate Student

Julia Lukacs is a Ph.D. student in the Clinical Psychology program at Simon Fraser University. She obtained her M.Sc. from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in Developmental Psychopathology, and has worked in five countries in public/mental health research and psychology. Julia is currently working on her dissertation project on how caregivers of children with anxiety or ADHD diagnoses perceive risk-taking and risky outdoor play.

 

Angela Lee

Volunteer

Angela Lee is a fourth-year student at the University of British Columbia majoring in Psychology and minoring in Early Childhood Education. She is interested in exploring how unstructured play in a natural environment influences the development of children’s autonomy and resilience. She is currently preparing for a graduate program in developmental psychology. 

Viann Chan

Volunteer

Viann Chan recently graduated from University College London with a BSc in Psychology and Language Science. She is working on knowledge mobilization and website revamping with the Play Outside Lab. Viann is interested in mixed methods research on developmental populations, particularly in the intersection between creative expression and mental health. She currently works part-time as a behaviour interventionist and is studying full-time at UBC for a Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education.

For Potential Students

Become a Graduate Student

Dr. Brussoni supervises graduate students through the UBC School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) and the Women’s and Children’s Health Sciences (WACH) Program. If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies, you can check program requirements through SPPH or WACH.

 

Become a Work Study Student or Volunteer

Work/Learn is a program at the University of British Columbia that provides students with opportunities to gain professional skills. At the Play Outside UBC lab, we place a strong emphasis on students’ learning experience. Many students have had the opportunity to gain research experience through working or volunteering in the lab.

If you would like to work or volunteer at the Play Outside UBC lab, please contact the research coordinator at playoutside@bcchr.ca, visit the Work/Learn program website, and/or apply for a position in UBC Career Services Online.

Past Team Members

Allison Ezzat

Graduate Student

Physical Activity Participation and Health-Related Outcomes in Adolescent Females following Sport-Related Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury: A Mixed Methods Study

Amalie Lambert

Graduate Student

Playability Study (PLAY)

Amy Schneeberg

Graduate Student

Burden of Injury Study (BOI)

Anchal Kataria

Work Learn Student

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Andrew Wilson

Research Assistant

Playability Study (PLAY)

Aygun Ibrahimova

Volunteer

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Emma Raaflaub

Graduate Student

Bring Education Out (BE OUT) Study

Erica Zallen

Research Assistant

Burden of Injury Study (BOI)

Fritha Munday

Graduate Student

Early Childhood Outside Study (ECO)

Genevieve Creighton

Graduate Student

 Father’s Injury Prevention (FIP)

George Ko

Medical Student

Burden of Injury Study (BOI)

Grace Chan

Medical Student

Child Home Safety Study and Mothers’ Risk Engagement and Protection Study (REPS)

Hannah Coo

Work Learn Student

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Hannah Zimmering

Volunteer

Burden of Injury Study (BOI)

Ivana Lexa-French

Graduate Student

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Janae Vlaar

Graduate Student

Playability Study (PLAY)

Jaspreet Dhillon

Work Learn Student

Playability Study (PLAY) and Go Play Outside Study (GPO)

Jessica Flores

Graduate Student

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and ED Injuries’ Psychological Dimensions Study

Julia Zhu

Research Assistant

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Juliana Lane

Volunteer

Grandparent-Grandchild Outdoor Play

Kathryn Soo

Work Learn Student

Playability Study (PLAY), Go Play Outside Study (GPO), Early Childhood Outside (ECO), and Early Childhood Outside RCT (ECO-RCT)

Keeva Lupton

Medical Student 

Burden of Injury Study (BOI)

Kendra Wong

Work Learn Student

Child Home Safety Study, Fathers’ Risks Engagement and Protection Study (REPS), and Burden of Injury Study (BOI)

Kerry Walker

Medical Student 

Validity and Reliability of the EQ5D among a Paediatric Injury Population Study and Burden of Injury Study (BOI) 

Lauren Wong

Research Assistant

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO) Study

Linlin Wang

Work Learn Student

PRO-ECO Study

Lise Olsen

Graduate Student

Burden of Injury Study (BOI) & Father’s Injury Prevention (FIP)

Mathilde Duflos

Postdoctoral Fellow

Grandparent-Grandchild Outdoor Play 

Matthew Hanna

Work Learn Student

Aging Road Warriors: An Emerging Public Health Concern

Michelle O’Kane

Graduate Student

Playability study (PLAY)

Morgan Yates

Graduate Student

Playability Study (PLAY)

Muhammah Assad

Volunteer

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Nelson Luk

Volunteer

Burden of Injury Study (BOI) and Fathers on Child’s Play Masculinities in Rural and Urban Canada

Ricky Zhang

Volunteer

Examining Childhood Risk Appraisal Measurements using Electroencephalography

Sami Kruse

Research Coordinator

Burden of Injury Study (BOI)

Sara Brunelle

Graduate Student

Play worth remembering I

Sarah Foster

Medical Student 

Urban Versus Rural Fathers’ Ideas of Risk and Risk Prevention

Stacey Sholter

Work Learn Student

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Tak Ishikawa

Graduate Student

Go Play Outside! Study (GPO)

Tasfiyah Kabir

Work Learn Student

Knowledge Mobilization

Tina Cheng

Volunteer

Early Childhood Outside Study (ECO)

Vincent Li

Work Learn Student

Playability Study (PLAY)

Varun Nair

Work Learn Student

Promoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO)

Yingyi Lin

Research Assistant

Playability Study (PLAY) & Go Play Outside! Study (GPO)

Willow Leahy

Volunteer

Literature review outdoor risky play for children with exceptionalities