Research Associates

Gulia BenchimolGuila Benchimol 

Dr. Guila Benchimol is a Principal Researcher for the OU Center for Communal Research. She holds a PhD in Sociological Criminology and an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Her doctoral dissertation examined how victims of sexual violence become advocates and activists against sexual violence, and explored the processes that survivors experience, including victimization and disclosures, which lead them to advocacy and activism. Her MA thesis examined the 2011 murder of Leiby Kletzky, z”l, in Brooklyn, NY and its impact on the Orthodox Jewish community as they discussed addressing communal concerns that arose from the crime and its aftermath. As a researcher and public educator on sexual violence, Guila advises the Safety Respect Equity Network (SRE), a Jewish network of over 125 organizations committed to creating safe, respectful, equitable workplaces and communal spaces in North America. Guila also serves as a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence where she has worked on projects related to homicide and domestic violence deaths and sits on the board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Guila’s first career as a Jewish educator informed her understanding of the need to address victimization of all kinds in faith communities.

Claudette Dumont-SmithClaudette Dumont-Smith

Claudette Dumont-Smith has been actively involved in the field of Aboriginal health since 1974. She is a registered nurse and has acted in various executive capacities with the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada both as a board member and as its’ first executive director and, more recently, as executive director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, a position she held until her retirement in 2016. During her 43-year career, Claudette worked as a consultant for various National Aboriginal Organizations as well as for Aboriginal organizations at the regional and local levels. Ms. Dumont-Smith has moderated health conferences across Canada and has collaborated on numerous papers and manuals on Aboriginal health and violence against women and children. Ms. Dumont-Smith served as a member of the Aboriginal circle of the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women, a blue-ribbon panel initiated by the Government of Canada in 1991. In addition, she served as Associate Commissioner for the National Aboriginal Child Care Commission of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, formerly known as the Native Council of Canada and, was appointed as a Commissioner on the Indian Residential School Commission for one year. Ms. Dumont-Smith is also an accomplished writer/researcher whose articles on a wide range of topics have been published by the Health Council of Canada, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, among others. Ms. Dumont-Smith holds her Master's degree in Public Administration from Queen's University, Kingston and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Québec, Gatineau. In October 2017, Ms. Dumont-Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) degree from the University of Guelph.

Dr. Jordan FairbairnJordan Fairbairn

Dr. Jordan Fairbairn is an Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at King’s University College, Western University, London, Ontario. Jordan’s research focuses broadly on gender, violence, and media, with a focus on social responses to violence against women and the role of digital technology in violence and violence prevention. She has published in various journals, most recently Critical Sociology and Feminist Criminology, as well as various edited collections. From 2015-2017, Jordan was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) at Western University. Jordan completed her PhD at Carleton University, where her doctoral research explored feminist public sociology and how stakeholders involved in violence against women prevention use and experience social media. Jordan has previously collaborated with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) as Chair of the Media Hub Advisory Committee to create resources with and for journalists reporting on violence against women, and as lead investigator on Crime Prevention Ottawa funded research on sexual violence, social media, and youth. Jordan received her MA from the University of Guelph and this research, published in Feminist Criminology, explored Canadian news portrayals of domestic homicide and how this coverage has changed over time. In her current work on domestic homicide prevention, Jordan is a collaborator with the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP).


Tina HottonTina Hotton

Tina Hotton is a Research Associate with the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence at the University of Guelph. She is also a Regional Manager with the Research Data Centre (RDC) Program, Statistics Canada. Over the past 18 years she has worked both as a researcher with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) and an analyst at the McMaster and University of Toronto RDCs. She is the author of many quantitative research articles for Statistics Canada, most recently on topics ranging from women’s experiences with criminal justice system, dating violence, and homicide trends in Canada. Her current research interests focus on homicide victimization of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and the impact of public policy on both the prevalence and criminal justice system response to incidents of intimate partner violence.  Hotton holds a Master’s and Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Queen’s University, Kingston. She is also a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph. 

Nicole JefreyNicole Jeffrey
Dr. Nicole Jeffrey is currently a Research Associate in the Psychology Department at the University of Windsor, working with Dr. Charlene Senn on various projects related to sexual violence. Dr. Jeffrey’s research has mainly focused on issues of violence against women, including sexual and intimate partner violence. She completed her PhD at the University of Guelph, where her doctoral research examined university men’s use of sexual violence against romantic partners and the societal norms related to gender, masculinity, heterosexuality, and sexual violence that men and perpetrators used to justify and minimize sexual violence. Dr. Jeffrey has works published in various journals including Violence Against Women and Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, as well as in edited collections. From 2015 to 2018 she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Myrna Dawson for the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative for Vulnerable Populations. More information about Dr. Jeffrey’s work can be found at


Anthony PiscitelliAnthony Piscitelli

Anthony Piscitelli is Professor with Conestoga College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning in the Public Service program. He is also a PhD student in the Department of Geography at Wilfrid Laurier University. His doctoral research focuses primarily upon the spatial distribution of crime and victimization. Anthony Master’s research focused upon the connection between civic engagement and fear of crime. Anthony spent seven years with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council (WRCPC) where he authored, co-authored and supervised the writing of numerous research reports. His research with WRCPC examined a number of crime related topics including crossover children, gaps in services for victims and offenders of violence, and fear of crime. He also supervised a number of placement students with the WRCPC which resulted in various research reports and articles examining topics such as fear of crime, barriers to calling 911 in overdose emergencies and violence prevention initiatives. Anthony is an Associate with the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy. For his PhD, Anthony is working under the supervision of Dr. Sean Doherty, Wilfrid Laurier University.


Julie PoonJulie Poon

Dr. Julie Poon is a Postdoctoral Fellow and National Research Coordinator for the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative for Vulnerable Populations (, a five-year SSHRC funded project, co-directed by Dr. Myrna Dawson, Director, Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, University of Guelph and Dr. Peter Jaffe, Academic Director, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Western University. Dr. Poon’s research examines violence against women and intimate partner violence with a focus on women’s use of force and batterer intervention programs. Dr. Poon completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Guelph examining how women who were court mandated to attend Ontario’s Partner Assault Response program interpreted their use of force and whether and how the program addressed their lived realities. She was lead author on a study examining factors increasing the likelihood of sole and dual charging of women in cases of intimate partner violence which was published in Violence Against Women. Most recently, she co-authored a chapter comparing domestic/family violence death reviews at an international level which was published in Domestic Homicides and Death Reviews: An International Perspective.


Gursharan SandhuGursharan Sandhu 

Gursharan Sandhu completed his Master’s degree in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy program at the University of Guelph. Gursharan examined how masculinities are constructed by the Canadian media and Department of Justice Canada to outline differences and similarities between labelled ‘honour’ killing cases and other domestic homicide cases. His research work has been funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and the CSSLRV SSHRC-funded Geography of Justice project. Gursharan is entering the JD program at Western University in the fall. During his studies at law school, Gursharan plans to move his research work from media and political debates to understanding narratives in socio-legal and policy responses for specific crimes involving particular vulnerable populations, which may be due to systemic discrimination and social inequality. To specify, Gursharan would review court documents to locate differences between 'honour' killings and other similar domestic homicides, especially in terms of exploring mitigating factors and how the defence of provocation is used following the passage of Bill S-7: The Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. Gursharan’s research will aim to bridge the sociology of race, ethnicity and immigration, political sociology, cultural sociology, sociology of religion, law and social justice, comparative public policy, and intersectionality to examine potential untapped knowledge in the field of criminal justice and social inequality for vulnerable populations.


Jessica WhiteheadJessica Whitehead

Jessica Whitehead holds a B.A. from the University of Waterloo's Arts and Business Co-operative program with Joint Honours in Legal Studies and Sociology,  M.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy at the University of Guelph and an MSW from McGill University. Her M.A. research focused on police responses to incidents of intimate partner violence (IPV) that occur within same-sex relationships and compared them with occurrences between heterosexual partners. Jessica is currently expanding upon this research with Dr. Myrna Dawson and Tina Hotton. In addition to this, she is currently a practicing psychotherapist and manages a team of addictions counsellors."



Busra Yalcinoz-UcanBusra Yalcinoz-Ucan

Dr. Busra Yalcinoz-Ucan is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, where she works with Prof. Myrna Dawson for the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations. She was previously a visiting graduate scholar at CSSLRV from 2017 to 2019. She completed her PhD at the Department of Clinical Psychology, Bogazici University, Turkey. She also holds an MA degree in Clinical Psychology from Bilgi University, Turkey. She has had eight years of experience in the field of gender-based violence, both as a researcher and mental health practitioner. In her PhD research, she utilized an intersectional and contextualized framework to examine women’s processes of safety-seeking from violence, with a focus on their experiences of staying in and leaving the relationships and their post-separation well-being. The dissertation, based on a qualitative study with women survivors of male partner violence in Turkey, demonstrated the sociocultural and structural embeddedness of women’s individual and relational histories of being exposed to and escaping male partner violence as well as the critical importance of women’s social positions in determining their experiences of decision-making and resilience. Yalcinoz-Ucan has also worked with women’s survivors of gender-based violence as a clinical psychologist in supporting them to achieve their safety and well-being. She currently teaches an online psychology course at a university in Turkey and continues to practice psychotherapy.