Meet The Team

Doctoral Students

Sana Smaoui, M.H.Sc., SLP(C),

Sana is a CASLPO registered Speech-Language Pathologist and Clinical Research Coordinator pursuing her doctoral studies at the Swallowing Rehabilitation Research Laboratory. She received her MHSc. in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto in 2017. Sana currently practices clinically providing dysphagia assessment and treatment along the continuum of care. Her interests lie in bridging the gap between research and clinical practice in terms of quantitative analysis of videofluoroscopy and contributing to theoretical knowledge for evidence-based practice

Pooja Gandhi, MSpPathSt., Reg. CASLPO

Pooja is a Speech-Language Pathologist and PhD Candidate at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (KITE) and the University of Toronto. She received her Masters of Speech-Language Pathology degree from The University of Queensland, Australia. Her doctoral research is focused on understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms that lead to swallowing impairment in Parkinson’s disease. Her clinical and academic work is paralleled by a strong interest in art and the humanities, teaching and health advocacy.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Renata Mancopes, Ph.D.

Dr. Mancopes received her clinical phonoaudiology training in Brazil, where she worked clinically for over twenty years. Before moving to Toronto, she worked as a professor at the Federal University of Santa Maria-BR teaching in the area of swallowing and dysphagia. She supervised masters and doctoral students, while also conducting research. Currently, Dr. Mancopes works as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Steele Swallowing Rehabilitation Lab, with a special interest in swallowing and swallowing disorders in people with lung diseases.

Administrative Assistant

Cecilia Campolongo

Cecilia enjoys assisting and helping others while providing excellent, all-round customer service. In the past 7 years, through her role as an Administrative Assistant Cecilia has provided organizational support to Professor Catriona Steele, her team, and other research teams within the KITE institute. Cecilia works to ensure efficient operation of office administration and finance, drawing on her expansive knowledge of institution protocols to maintain excellent communication with UHN partners and with the lab’s external collaborators.

Clinical Research Manager

Melanie Peladeau-Pigeon, M.H.Sc., P.Eng.

Melanie completed her master’s degree in clinical engineering at the University of Toronto. Melanie currently works as an engineer and Clinical Research Manager at the Swallowing Rehabilitation Research Laboratory (KITE, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network). She has been supporting dysphagia research since she graduated. She has been involved in a number of multi-site clinical trials and has a special interest in the technical components as it relates to supporting best practice recommendations, research data collection and analyses.

Clinical Research Coordinators

Emily Barrett, M.H.Sc., Reg. CASLPO, SLP(C)

Emily completed her MHSc in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto in 2010 and has a Certificate in Francophone Practice for SLPs from the University of Alberta. Emily also received Speech-Language and Audiology Canada’s (SAC) Student Excellence Award. Emily has worked clinically at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Michael’s Hospital. During her tenure at LHSC she contributed to work quantifying the impact of FEES in acute care and implementing AAC in the intensive care unit. Emily’s current interest is in the translation of research to evidence-based clinical practice.

Vanessa Panes, M.H.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

Vanessa currently divides her time working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for SRRL and at St Michael’s Hospital as an acute care Speech Pathologist. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2009 at the University of Toronto in Archaeology and went on to complete her Masters of Health Sciences in 2018 at the University of Toronto in Speech-Language Pathology. She volunteers her time as an administrator of an online Laryngectomee Support Group. 

Michelle Simmons, M.H.Sc., M.Mus.,

Michelle recently obtained her M.H.Sc. from the University of Toronto, completing her final clinical internship in the Language Sciences Lab under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Rochon. In her role as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Swallowing Rehabilitation Research Lab, Michelle builds upon her previous experience as a professional singer (M. Mus, University of Toronto). Her clinical and research interests include language, communication, swallowing and voice rehabilitation in adult populations. Michelle maintains a website exploring her interests in Speech Language Pathology and Voice performance (