For most students, college represents the first opportunity to study Psychology in a formal way. As such, our department is dedicated to introducing the knowledge and processes associated with understanding why humans behave as they do.


Your answer to this question today may be quite different from the picture of Psychology that will emerge as you study with us at
John Abbott College.

PSYCHOLOGY is about MORE than abnormal behaviour or the study of your personality. Have you ever considered:

  • how you are able to perceive colour
  • how your hunger is regulated
  • the powerful effect of reward and punishment in your life
  • what is meant by intelligence and IQ
  • why you have problems remembering some things . . . and why it is easier to recall other stuff
  • why you often feel stressed and what you can do about it
  • why you behave differently in groups than when you are alone
  • how children learn one or more complicated languages
  • how you might develop specific fears or phobias
  • and a vast array of other topics you may never have thought to wonder about.


Our courses offer information about issues that concern everyone. These issues range from broad social questions, such as how to reduce the incidence of mental illness to highly personal questions such as how to improve your communication skills.


Underlying our courses is the way psychologists approach issues in human behaviour. How do you know that certain claims are true? “Does television promote violence in children?” “Do men and women have different abilities?”

At John Abbott College we are committed to understanding how psychologists research issues as a way of building knowledge that is relatively accurate and dependable. The more you learn about Psychology as a way of thinking, the better equipped you will be to evaluate the psychological assertions you encounter in your daily life.

Members of the Department

Anderson, Kristin :

Anderson, Kristin

514-457-6610 ext. 5547

Aubie, Jacqueline :

Aubie, Jacqueline

514-457-6610 ext. 5963

Jacqueline is a proud alumna of John Abbott College, and discovered her passion for psychology in these very classrooms!  Jacqueline initially had her sights set on becoming a high school teacher, but it was in CEGEP that she realized she was interested in teaching at the post-secondary level.  Her courses at Abbott also got Jacqueline thinking about becoming a psychologist.

After CEGEP, and armed with ‘Departmental Award for Outstanding Achievement in Psychology', Jacqueline pursued her interests at Bishop’s University earning bachelor degrees in both Education and Psychology.  She went on to complete her Masters degree at McGill University in Counselling Psychology.

Jacqueline taught senior high school level Math, English, Psychology and Sexual Education in the first decade of her career. She became a licensed psychologist in 2006 and opened a private clinic in the West Island.  She ecstatically began teaching at John Abbott College in 2010 and has taught a variety of courses in a number of Programs which include; Introduction to Psychology, Crisis Intervention, Clinical Criminology, Communication, and Psychopathology.

“I am so fortunate to have achieved my career objective in that I am teaching what I am passionate about, to a demographic I love working with!  I am also privileged as I thoroughly enjoy my private practice working with adolescents, adults, couples and families as a cognitive behavioural psychologist."

Bender, Peter :

Bender, Peter

514-457-6610 ext. 5456

Born in Worcester, England and educated at McGill University, M.A. and Florida State University, Ph.D., Peter is an original member of the college faculty.

Among professional interests has been a focus upon sport and human performance. A psychologist to numerous national level programs, Peter was a member of the 1984 Olympic staff in Los Angeles. From 1979 - 1991, Peter was the head coach of the John Abbott varsity men's hockey team and coached professional hockey in Europe.  During his tenure at John Abbott Peter has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Hawaii and Newcastle University (U.K.)

Recently, Peter has been examining the human performance factors associated with business and corporate management and he remains a consultant with firms in Canada and Great Britain.

"I think there are few jobs that can compete with teaching bright and articulate students and engaging them in the world of human behaviour. I've never lost track of the idea that teachers do learn a great deal from students and that enjoyment ultimately sparks interest in the formal learning process."

Caouette, Julie :

Caouette, Julie

514-457-6610 ext 5273

Cole, Emily :

Cole, Emily

514-457-6610 ext. 5818

Emily has been a member of the Department of Psychology at John Abbott College since 2018. She has taught an array of courses in both pre-university and career programs, which include Introduction to Psychology, The Human Brain, Social Psychology, Psychology of Sport, Psychology of Human Development, Communication Skills, Adolescence to Maturity, Issues in Psychology and Health Care, Research Methods, and Integration in Social Sciences.

Emily has a PhD in Psychology (Behavioural Neurobiology) from Concordia University. Her research focused on the neurobiological basis of learning and memory, specifically trying to understand: how we recognize objects, the role of the environmental context in learning, and how we integrate information about the time of day and the availability of food. Emily was excited to join the Psychology Department at JAC because this is where she first became interested in pursuing psychology after taking an Introduction to Psychology complementary course. Emily hopes to inspire other students to achieve their academic and career goals. In her free time, Emily enjoys running, cycling, cross-country skiing, and reading.

Cooper, Philip :

Cooper, Philip

514-457-6610 ext. 5632

Foy, Michael :

Foy, Michael

514-457-6610 ext. 5837

BA Honors (Psychology) Simon Fraser University
MA (Educational Psychology) Simon Fraser University

Michael began his teaching career in British Columbia in the public school system. Upon completing his MA he moved to the US to pursue his PhD and then Montréal to continue his doctoral studies at McGill. Throughout this process he realized his love of teaching. He started teaching at John Abbott College in 2008 and since then has had the opportunity to conduct research, coach the cross country running team, and teach hundreds of inspiring social science students. He teaches Introduction to Psychology and The Twenty Studies that Changed Psychology.  Michael is happily married, has two young daughters, and finds the West Island of Montréal an ideal location for family.

“I am thankful for having had such a rewarding experience here at John Abbott and look forward to the years ahead.”

Hanck, Julie :

Hanck, Julie

514-457-6610 ext. 5131

I have been teaching at John Abbott College since 2014 in both the Psychology department and the Youth and Adult Correctional Intervention program.  My background includes a B.Sc. in Behavioural Neuroscience at Concordia University and a Ph.D. in Neurological Sciences from the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University. My passion for understanding the brain is only surmounted by my love of teaching. It is a real privilege to be a part of the JAC community and my hope is to share my passion with all of my students.

Harrar, Vanessa :

Harrar, Vanessa

514-457-6610 #5054

B.A. Psychology and Math (York University)
M.A. Psychology: Brain, Behaviour, and Cog Sci (York University)
Ph.D. Psychology: Brain, Behaviour, and Cog Sci (York University)

Vanessa grew up in Montreal and moved to Toronto for university. She received her Bachelor of Psychology from York University, then joined Laurence Harris’s lab and under his supervision, earned both her Master of Arts and Doctorate degrees in Cognitive Psychology, specializing in Multisensory Perception, also at York. Thereafter, Vanessa was awarded a 3-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship from Oxford University, where she studied the integration of the senses across time and space in Charles Spence’s lab. She then moved back to Montreal and continued her research at the University of Montreal, looking at multisensory integration in older adults and congenitally blind individuals. She tested and developed technologies to help blind people “see” using touch and hearing.

Over the years, Vanessa has taught several courses in psychology, statistical analyses, and research methodology, both at the collegiate and university level. Her favourite course to teach is Quantitative Methods because math is concrete, and playing with numbers is fun. Vanessa also loves the opportunity to talk about the outstanding research coming out of psychology studies today!

Vanessa is in a committed relationship and a proud mama of two bright and beautiful boys. They enjoy hiking in the Laurentians with their 70lb dog. Vanessa loves making sourdough bread, plays hockey recreationally, and is learning to make useful things out of clay.

Katz, Jim :

Katz, Jim

514-457-6610 ext. 5135

Jim teaches psychology in a human-relations and personal-growth focused method. He brings training and experience in group dynamics from Concordia, human psychology from McGill, experiential learning techniques from U Sherbrooke,  intensive-group leading from the Humaniversity in Holland, and meditation from the Osho ashram in India. His readings book TOOLS FOR LIFE, written with his wife and partner Atmo Zakes, is one of the keeper textbooks at JAC. Jim also is a musician, playing bassoon in the  iMedici di McGill physician orchestra.

Knight, Linda :

Knight, Linda

514-457-6610 ext. 5883

Linda has been teaching at John Abbott College since 2001 in both the Psychology department and the Criminology Intervention technology. Her background includes a B.A. in Honours Psychology from Bishop’s University and a M.A. and PhD in Clinical Psychology from Queen’s University. Linda has been a registered Clinical Psychologist since 1989 and has worked in numerous settings and with a variety of populations. These include the Treatment Centre for Sexual Offenders at the Kingston Penitentiary, The Child and Family Centre of Brant County, the London Psychiatric Hospital, Corrections Canada, and a private practice. Linda is co-author of the textbook: Essentials of Abnormal Psychology in a Changing World (4th and 5th Canadian editions).

Kwas, Michelle : Co-chair

Kwas, Michelle

514-457-6610 ext. 5458

B.A. Psychology (University of Calgary)
M.A. Experimental Psychology (Concordia University)
Ph.D. Experimental Psychology (Concordia University)

Michelle, originally from western Canada, received her Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Calgary in Alberta. A move to Montreal followed, where she earned both her Master of Arts and Doctorate degrees in Experimental Psychology from Concordia University specializing in Visual Perception research under the supervision of Dr. Michael von Grünau. Thereafter, Michelle was awarded a 3-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship from Canadian Institutes of Health Research to conduct research at Université de Montréal, studying the influence of non-pathological aging on visual motion perception.

Throughout her studies and since, Michelle has taught several courses in psychology, statistical analyses, and research methodology both at the collegiate and university level. Her favorite course to teach is Child Psychology so that she has an excuse to talk about her husband and their 4 wonderful daughters! Michelle loves to have fun with her family and friends, read fiction (loves Jodi Picoult and Ken Follett) and biographies, watch great TV (loves Walking Dead and Game of Thrones) and vacation in Disney (where she plans to retire).

Panagopoulos, Afroditi :

Panagopoulos, Afroditi

514-457-6610 ext. 5134

Afroditi earned her Doctorate degree in Experimental Psychology from Concordia University. Her area of research is in Visual Perception. She investigates the role that visual attention plays in guiding our actions and solving everyday visual search tasks. A particular focus of her research program has been to determine how many separate attentional locations we can hold at one single time. This has real world applications in many areas, notably in the aviation and military sectors. Afroditi is an active research member in the Vision Lab at Concordia University.

Since the Fall of 2013, Afroditi has been teaching at John Abbott in the Psychology Department. Afroditi has taught a vast array of courses both at the Cégep and the University level. These courses have included, Introduction to Psychology, Social Psychology, Psychology of Human Development, Issues in Health Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Fundamentals of Learning, Research Methods, Statistical Analysis I & II.

“What I love most about teaching at JAC are the small class sizes. This is conducive to a warm, welcoming and engaging learning experience. I enjoy getting to know my students and learning as much as I can from each one of them”.

Afroditi is most proud of her two active, young sons, Nicholas and Alexander!

Pasto, Luigi :

Pasto, Luigi

514-457-6610 ext. 5893

Since the Fall of 2002, I have taught several courses at John Abbott College including: Introduction to Psychology, Human Development, Research Methods, Quantitative Methods, Integration in the social sciences, and Learning Techniques for College Success. My passions are my three children, my wife, and photography.

Rocchi, Jennifer : Co-chair

Rocchi, Jennifer

514-457-6610 ext. 5826

BA Honors Psychology, Concordia University

M. Ed Educational Psychology, McGill University

Jennifer has spent past years working at the high school level with at risk student populations. In addition, she has worked as a researcher on a number of projects at Concordia and McGill including coordinating a large-scale Pan Canadian study on the effectiveness of an online computer literacy program for elementary students. Jennifer began her doctoral research on the

effects of this literacy program on reading comprehension in children with autism spectrum disorder.

"I am so excited to be teaching here at John Abbott College because I am a graduate of JAC myself! My hope is to be able to inspire students here the way I was inspired to pursue psychology. Therefore, I bring to my students an appreciation of the power that education can have to inspire."

Jennifer has taught Introduction to Psychology, Mental Health, the Human Brain (Intro to Neuroscience), Social Psychology, Research Methods for the Methods Department, Psychological Issues in Nursing and Developmental Psychology for the Nursing Department, Stress Management for the Pre-Hospital/Paramedic Program, and Adolescence to Maturity for the Youth and Adult Correctional Program.

Jennifer is happily married and a proud mother of a beautiful girl and boy. In addition, she is an advocate for dog rescuing/adoptions from shelters. Her own dogs have been rescued and it has been so rewarding.

Strudensky, Steven :

Strudensky, Steven

514-457-6610 ext. 5513

Steve is a born and bred Montrealer who returned to Québec after a 25 year absence working and living throughout Canada.

He completed his Undergraduate work in Psychology at McGill and his Graduate work at the University of Western Ontario where he investigated Human Intelligence, Personality Theory, Measurement and Test Development.

Steve possesses a background teaching Personality and Social Psychology, Human Development and Abnormal Psychology at the University level and an extensive background in counselling, group facilitation, special education, and organizational change consulting.

He brings a passion for psychology and an Eclectic interest in Eastern Philosophy and Group Dynamics to his Teaching Style.



For a complete list of courses taught by the Psychology department, please visit both the Social Science and the General Education (Complementary courses) sections on the John Abbott website.

Supplemental Information