Meet the RCVM@OVC team.
Click an image to read a bio.
Dr. Jason Coe (he/him),
DVM, PhD, Principal Investigator
Dr. Natasha Janke (she/her)
PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Kat Sutherland (she/her)
PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Rosalie Fortin-Choquette (she/her)
MA, PhD Candidate
Catherine Groves (she/her)
MSc, PhD Candidate
Dr. Lea Nogueira Borden (she/her)
DVM, MSc, PhD Student
Dr. Kirsten Blokland (she/her)
PhD, Research Assistant
BSc, MSc Student
Radhika Gandhi (she/her)
BSc, MSc Student, Research Assistant
Kassandra Blais-Vaillancourt (she/her)
BSc, DVM Student, Lab Summer Student
Maggie McCullough (she/her)
BSc, DVM Student, Lab Summer Student
BASc Candidate, Lab Summer Student
“I have to imagine it would be difficult to find a more supportive team to be a part of.
We walk the walk, so to speak, and are always looking for ways to better collaborate
with one another to support the work we do as well as the people doing it.”
Dr. Kat Sutherland, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow
RCVM@OVC team in action
Dr. Jason Coe, DVM, PhD, Principal Investigator
Dr. Jason Coe holds the VCA Canada Chair in Relationship-Centred Veterinary Medicine (2021-2026) and is a Professor at the Ontario Veterinary College. After graduating from the College as a veterinarian in 2001, he returned from mixed-animal veterinary practice to complete a PhD in veterinary-clinical communication in 2008. In the same year, Jason joined the Ontario Veterinary College in the Department of Population Medicine where he has established an active research program examining the human-animal bond as well as the role of interpersonal communication on the outcomes of veterinary care. In his current role at the College, he coordinates the clinical-communication curriculum across all 4 years of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program and is involved in teaching students about the relationships that exist between people and animals.
Over the past decade and a half, Jason has also established an international reputation for his leadership in research relating to veterinary communication, primary-care veterinary education and understanding of the human-animal relationship. In his research, Jason incorporates the use of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to perform research that has the goal of achieving the greatest practical learnings for the veterinary profession. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, contributed to several book chapters and is regularly invited to speak nationally and internationally at scientific and continuing-education conferences. In 2021, Jason was honoured by the American Veterinary Medical Association with the AVMA Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award for his notable contributions to the veterinary profession. (Return to top)
Dr. Natasha Janke, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Natasha Janke’s research interests are driven by a desire to understand how social interactions in veterinary medicine impact outcomes. Natasha seeks to understand processes that can be used to tailor experiences to meet the individual needs of clients.
Natasha completed her MSc in epidemiology after receiving her BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Guelph. She then completed her PhD in epidemiology (OVC 2021), where she explored information exchange and decision-making within veterinary appointments. Following her PhD, Natasha examined the impact of a 15-month in-practice communication training intervention, as a post-doctoral fellow at Colorado State University.
Natasha returned to the OVC and joined the RCVM@OVC team in the summer of 2022. She is applying quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore team-based veterinary medicine, as she collaborates with VCA Canada.
Natasha enjoys cooking and activities that involve spending time outdoors, including hiking, paddleboarding, camping, and playing soccer. (Return to top)
Dr. Kat Sutherland, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Kat’s research interests are motivated by wanting to understand how relationships in veterinary medicine impact pet owners’ uptake of and adherence to nutritional and weight management recommendations, and how veterinary-client communication can be enhanced to improve the quality of life for pets with excess weight.
Kat completed both her BSc in Animal Biology and her MSc in Animal Nutrition at the University of Guelph. Her PhD research (OVC 2022) explored pet weight-related communication in small animal veterinary practice, with emphasis on obesity-specific communication.
Currently, Kat is involved in the development of an educational intervention study for veterinary professionals that is focused on the prevention and treatment of obesity in dogs and cats, as well as how to best communicate about obesity and weight management with pet owners.
Outside of work you are likely to find Kat on a pool deck, reading, or spending time with her partner and their cats. (Return to top)
Rosalie Fortin-Choquette, MA, PhD Candidate
With the desire to bridge the gap between humanities and sciences, Rosalie’s research interests combine her background in social sciences and epidemiology, and aim to understand the relationship between diverse communication modalities, relationship building and accessible care.
Rosalie earned her Master of Arts degree at the University of Guelph in the School of Literature and Languages in 2019, where her research focused on the evolution of various forms of communication through social media. This led to an interest in clinical communication and ICTs (information and communication technology) and inspired her to pursue her education in the field of epidemiology. As a PhD candidate in the lab, her research currently aims to identify the perceived barriers and the potential benefits associated with the implementation of virtual care platforms in the veterinary profession.
Outside her studies, Rosalie enjoys spending time outside with her two dogs and two cats, and the horses she takes care of. She is greatly involved in the equestrian scene and you can often see her at a horse show on the weekends. (Return to top)
Catherine Groves, MSc, PhD Candidate
Having fulfilled multiple roles in animal care and veterinary clinic settings, including that of pet owner, Catherine is fascinated by the relationship-centred aspects of veterinary medicine.
Catherine completed both her BScH in Biomedical Science and MSc in Epidemiology at the University of Guelph. During her MSc, her work focused on exploring the prevalence and nature of cost conversations in companion animal practice. Her studies led her to an interest in how the value and importance of veterinary care is communicated with veterinary clients, including explanations of the explicit benefit this care provides to the patient.
Catherine is currently working on understanding pet parent preferences in decision-making in terms of the care their pets receive and the communication surrounding features of care, like the value of care.
Outside of her studies, Catherine’s involvement in various local animal rescues and community outreach programs, alongside her friends and partner, fuels her research interests and purpose in the field. In the evenings, Catherine can be found reading with any number of animals on her lap. (Return to top)
Dr. Lea Nogueira Borden, DVM, MSc, PhD Student
A desire to explore the inter-relationship between human and animal health represents a common theme running through Lea’s diverse research background. Specifically, she has pursued a special interest in understanding the relationships, communication and environments that support this mutual well-being.
Lea completed both her DVM (2002) and her MSc in Epidemiology (2007) at the Ontario Veterinary College. During her MSc, Lea investigated veterinarian-client communication around end-of-life decision making. Over the course of her veterinary career, Lea has worked in a variety of settings, including small animal practice, academia, government, and community outreach.
As a PhD student, Lea is currently exploring the area of team-based veterinary care, including opportunities to support veterinary team effectiveness and well-being.
Outside of work, Lea enjoys outdoor adventures of all kinds, and spending time with her husband, three children, and various furry family members. (Return to top)
Dr. Kirsten Blokland, PhD, Research Assistant
In all the research Kirsten has conducted, one of the threads that has held particular interest for her has been the various relationship-centred factors involved in the phenomena she has studied.
Kirsten completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children, focusing on the parent-child relationship and emotional development. Thereafter, she remained with the Hospital for Sick Children for the next 20 years as the clinical research project manager for several large studies involving parents and children.
Kirsten is delighted to have joined the RCVM@OVC team in late 2021, and is enjoying the challenge of applying her knowledge of relationship-centred phenomena to the context of veterinary medicine, supporting the activities of the team in a variety of ways.
Outside of work time, Kirsten enjoys spending time with her family (including their Havanese dog), teaching yoga, and singing classical music with a choir. (Return to top)
Abby Davies, BSc, MSc Student
Abby’s research interests are driven by wanting to understand how relationship-centred aspects of veterinary medicine can impact the decisions pet owners make for taking steps toward improving the health and well-being of their pets.
Abby completed her BSc in Biomedical Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Upon joining the RCVM@OVC team in the fall of 2022, Abby is currently involved in exploring pet weight-related communication in animal veterinary practice, specifically how veterinarian-client communication affects pet owners’ decisions about pursuing weight management for their pets.
Outside of her studies, Abby enjoys playing on the Guelph varsity women’s hockey team, paddle boarding, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets. (Return to top)
Radhika Gandhi, BSc, MSc Student, Research Assistant
A common theme in Radhika’s research interests includes understanding the different ways in which stakeholder involvement can influence outcomes of interest. Specifically, Radhika is interested in learning more about the role relationship-building can play on pet health, and on strengthening the veterinary field.
Radhika completed her BSc. in Biology at the University of Western Ontario and is currently working towards her MSc in Epidemiology and Collaborative Specialization of One Health at the University of Guelph. Radhika has previous experience working as a research assistant at the London Health Sciences Centre. For her MSc, Radhika’s research focuses on working with students to identify innovative pedagogical strategies that can help strengthen One Health and climate change education in institutes of higher education.
During her free time, Radhika enjoys going on hikes, playing basketball, and spending time with her family and friends. (Return to top)
Kassandra Blais-Vaillancourt, BSc, DVM Student, Lab Summer Student
Kassandra is interested in learning how we can best facilitate open and meaningful conversations in veterinary medicine. As a DVM student, she is passionate about ensuring that pet parents feel proactive and included in their pet’s health and treatment plan. She is excited to learn more about how we can incorporate relationship-centred veterinary medicine into our clinics and improve the well-being of our furry companions.
Kassandra graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Biological Science. Prior to her acceptance into the DVM program in 2022, she was conducting research at McGill University investigating the effects of the immune system on breast cancer progression. She is excited to be pursuing research again, this time shifting her focus to the people and relationships found in veterinary medicine.
Outside of research, Kassandra loves to hike with her dog, read with her cat, and spend as much time outdoors as she can. (Return to top)
Maggie McCullough, BSc, DVM Student, Lab Summer Student
In relationship-centred veterinary medicine, Maggie is passionate about discovering tools and techniques that allow for effective and rewarding navigation through the complexities of a client-veterinarian relationship.
Maggie graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a Minor in Communication. She is currently completing her DVM degree at the Ontario Veterinary College. During her time at Eastern Michigan University, Maggie participated in a variety of research projects. Most notably, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Department of Animal Science on a project that focused on the impact of Hantavirus on both rodent and human species.
Outside of research, Maggie enjoys spending quality time with family, friends, and her boyfriend. During her time at Eastern Michigan University, Maggie was a member of the Women’s NCAA Soccer Team. Although her time is up there, you can find her playing any and all sports each chance she gets. This summer Maggie hopes to perfect her golf game. (Return to top)
Renu Dinesh, BASc Candidate, Lab Summer Student
Renu is finishing an undergraduate degree in the Arts and Sciences Program at the University of Guelph, studying both Biology and Psychology. In the Fall of 2023, Renu intends to begin a Masters in Epidemiology and Collaborative Specialization in One Health, also at the University of Guelph.
Renu is passionate about exploring the role of effective communication between veterinary professionals and pet owners in order to improve access and alleviate barriers to veterinary care, with the goal of promoting positive animal health outcomes.
Renu cherishes spending quality time with loved ones, including a German Shepherd and a quarter Husky mixed dog. When not engrossed in reading and drawing, Renu leads an active lifestyle by engaging in sports, working out, and swimming. (Return to top)
“Veterinary medicine is a team sport.”
Dr. Jason Coe, DVM, PhD