Research Team

Zeenat Janmohamed

Principal Investigator

Zeenat Janmohamed is the Chair of the School of Social and Community Services and Deaf and Deafblind Studies at George Brown College, having held faculty positions in School of Early Childhood, the Atkinson Centre at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and the Eric Jackman Institute of Child Studies at the University of Toronto. 


Zeenat leads the the Early Childhood Cognitive Sensitivity Training Study, a collaboration between George Brown College, the City of Toronto’s Children’s Services Division and the Atkinson Centre at University of Toronto. The research will develop and deliver an innovative model of professional learning on cognitive sensitivity to improve the skills of ECE.


Her most recent study investigates the impact of full day kindergarten and extended day programs on educators, families and school administration. Her expertise examines the implementation of ideas related to diversity, equity and difference. Her research aims to examine how diversity is explored in training, policy and practice. 


Zeenat completed her PhD in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE, University of Toronto.

Jennifer Jenkins

Chair, Atkinson Centre - Early Child Development and Education 

Dr. Jennifer Jenkins is the Atkinson Chair of Early Child Development and Education at the University of Toronto and the Director of the Atkinson Centre. The Atkinson Centre uses the best available scientific evidence to inform public discourse, public policy and the professional learning of those who work with young children.


Jenkins is internationally known for her research on the family processes that promote lifelong learning and mental health in young children, as well as the study of resilience amongst siblings for children living in high-risk environments. She runs the Kids, Families, Places Study, a birth-cohort, longitudinal study of 500 children, their older siblings and parents, followed into middle childhood. 


Jenkins's scientific work has appeared in over 100 peer reviewed publications. She has won awards for her contributions to teaching, scholarship and leadership in developmental psychology. She is a co-author of Understanding Emotions, now in its 4th edition.

Jenkins is currently working with the Brazilian Government to offer an online course for supervisors and home visitors to enhance parent and sibling responsivity in the home.  

Michal Perlman


Michal has a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She is a Professor at the department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She is also cross appointed at the School of Public Policy and Governance at U of T.

Michal has two main lines of ongoing research about young children's development.

The first has to do with the quality of child care children receive and its impact on their development. In the last few years she have been focusing on identifying critical aspects of child care quality, and developing empirically based ways of measuring those aspects. This involves extensive assessments of child care providers (both centre based, and family home care providers) and the children and families they serve.

Michal's second line of research has to do with children’s development of perspective taking and conflict resolution skills. She has been looking at a series of questions related to the role of parents in managing conflicts between their young children, bidirectional influences in conflict management and the development of conflict scripts.

Recently, Michal has been studying how the warmth, responsivity and perspective taking abilities of family members and educators help support children's development. She has worked with different levels of government in Canada and in the US. In addition, her work has been funded by SSHRC, CIHR, the McCain Foundation, different levels of government, the Canadian Council for Learning and other agencies.

Ashley Brunsek

PhD Student

Ashley is a PhD student in the School and Clinical Child Psychology program. Her research is focused on understanding quality predictors and correlates of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) environments. Her Master’s thesis research involved conducting a meta-analysis and systematic review of the Early Childhood Environment Rating scale- an instrument that provides a global measure of ECEC quality- and its association with outcomes of preschool aged children.


Ashley has also had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Michal Perlman on some of her policy work. Together, with staff from the City of Toronto, they have developed and validated a quality assessment tool that is currently being used in infant, toddler and preschool classrooms across the City of Toronto. More recently, they have been working on delivering and evaluating an innovative professional development program for Early Childhood Educators aimed at increasing their knowledge and use of cognitively sensitive practices. That is, practices that are focused on being attuned and responsive to children’s cognitive level and emotional state. The goal of Ashley's research program is to build capacity in educators and, in turn, improve the settings in which they work and the development of children in their care.

Finally, Ashley is working with Dr. Perlman on a project that is seeking to understand the parenting practices and beliefs of a group of Moroccan parents and how they may compare to those of Western parents. They hope that this work will be a springboard for understanding how parenting practices, particularly those in the Middle East and North Africa regions, may influence what parents do with their children and how that may impact child development.

Other Team Members

Sahar Borairi

 Samantha Burns

Veroushka Coronel

Alessandro Eid-Ricci

Shailja Jain

Michelle Rodrigues

Nina Sokolovic

Jillian Stagg

Contact Us

Dr. Zeenat Janmohamed