Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz is an expert in brain health. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University (ranked Top 25 in the world) and directs the NeuroFit Lab, which has attracted nearly $1 million to support her research program on the effects of exercise for brain health. Dr. Heisz received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience (McMaster) and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Brain Health and Aging at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Hospital (Toronto). Dr. Heisz's research examines the effects of physical activity on brain function to promote mental health and cognition in young adults, older adults and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Many honors and awards recognize Dr. Heisz for her outstanding contributions to research including the Early Researcher Award from the Government of Ontario, the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award.

Jennifer Heisz


Dr. Brewer-Deluce is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab. Her research interests surround understanding the physiological underpinnings of learning. Specifically, she employs EEG neuroimaging and eye tracking technologies to gain insight into how trainees learn and assess anatomical images in a clinical context. Her goal is to develop unobtrusive and authentic metrics of learner competency to support learning and assessment in competency based medical education (CBME).


Dr. Allison is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab. His research interests involve understanding the physiological mechanisms that contribute to depression, including the potential relationship between skeletal muscle health and mental health. Dr. Allison is testing the potential for a skeletal muscle derived transcription factor to influence inflammatory mediators, glutamate neurotransmission, and hippocampal neurogenesis.


Michelle Ogrodnik is a doctoral student in the NeuroFit Lab. She also works with Dr. Barbara Fenesi (NeuroFit alumni) at Western University in the WEBB Lab. Combining her knowledge in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and kinesiology, she is interested in understanding ways to improve attention and long-term comprehension. Currently, she is investigating how physical fitness and exercise participation influence symptoms of inattention in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Michelle is an award winning science communicator and enjoys sharing her work with diverse audiences. She is also an award winning teacher, and an advocate for evidence-based and equitable teaching practices. Alongside her research, Michelle works as a Lead Student Educational Developer at the MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Learning. Her ultimate goal is to combine her program of research and work experience to improve teaching and learning in higher education.


Tara Kuhn is a Master’s student in the NeuroFit Lab. Her primary interest lies in the relationship between cognition, lifestyle, and brain health. Her Master’s thesis looks at the interaction between physical activity and sleep and their effect on cognition, in both younger and older adults. She wants to see if physical activity helps protect and promote sleep, ultimately leading to better cognitive performance. Her future research goals include using neuroimaging to examine the structural and functional changes occurring in the brain as a result of exercise.


Emma Nicholson is a Master’s student in the NeuroFit Lab. Her research explores the interactions between inflammation and mental health. Emma is currently examining the anti-inflammatory effects of physical fitness and their impact on acute stress reactivity in the student population. In future research, Emma is interested in working with a depressed population and investigating the impact of an exercise intervention on inflammation, and cortisol reactivity


Maryam Marashi is a Master’s student in the NeuroFit Lab. She is fascinated by the influence of physical activity on brain health over the lifespan. She is particularly interested in its effects on memory and cognition in the aging brain. Currently she is working to uncover an exercise-induced molecular intermediary of the protective effects of exercise on memory in older adults. Her ultimate goal is to support a therapeutic strategy to combat memory degradation associated with aging through exercise based interventions.


Samantha is an honours undergraduate thesis student and research assistant in the NeuroFit Lab. From volunteering in McMaster’s PACE with older adults to leading a recreational dance team of 400 university students, Samantha is interested in supporting health and wellness across a diverse range of clients. If you have any lab related questions, Samantha would be happy to answer.


Each year, the NeuroFit Lab trains dozens of top undergraduate students from across the Faculty of Science including Kinesiology, Psychology, and Biology. Bringing together trainees from distinct disciplines into our open workspace in the lab creates an engaging environment for knowledge transfer and innovative thinking. This rich knowledge foundation is complemented with extensive technical training on multiple methodologies—fNIRS, EEG, cognitive and fitness testing, and biological sample processing—and the use of both traditional and novel analytical procedures for data analysis. Trainees from the NeuroFit Lab are equipped with a valuable skill and knowledge set needed to address the challenges of an increasingly sedentary and aging population.


Alexis Bullock, MSc

Allison Mizzi, MSc

Dr. Barbara Fenesi, Past Postdoctoral Fellow of the NeuroFit Lab. Currently, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education at the University of Western. Nominated Tier II Canada Research Chair in the Science of Learning. Laboratory Supervisor of the WEBB lab.

Kristin Lucibello, MSc

Ana Kovacevic, MSc

Emily Paolucci, MSc

Hanna Fang, MSc

Ilana Clark, MSc

Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz  | Associate Professor | Department of Kinesiology | Ivor Wynne Centre, Room E206 | McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8