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Dr. Mark Wade, former OISE MA & PhD student, returns to the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development (APHD) as Assistant Professor this Fall 

August 2019

Photo of Mark Wade, new faculty

Congratulations and welcome to new Assistant Professor, Dr. Mark Wade. We are thrilled to have you onboard!

Dr. Wade completed his MA and PhD in School and Clinical Child Psychology (SCCP) at the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development (APHD) at OISE.

We spoke to Dr. Wade to learn a little more about him and what brought him back to APHD.

Can you share some highlights and accomplishments from your career?

My academic career kind of got started at OISE and the University of Toronto. I completed an MA and PhD here before going to the University of Washington School and Medicine for my clinical residency and then Harvard Medical School for a postdoctoral fellowship. Throughout all of these positions, the main accomplishment I think of is the many relationships I have forged, both personally and professionally. It is through these relationships that I've really been able to think flexibly about child development from various perspectives. Because of this, I feel I've been successful in integrating across various fields (developmental psychology, genetics, neuroscience, education, pediatrics, etc.) to answer unique questions about how children and adolescents develop, and why some children thrive while others struggle to reach their peers in different domains. It is through my collaborations and relationships with others that I've been able to ask and partially answer questions that I'm interested in, and this has led to various academic accomplishments.  

Can you tell us more about your current research and why it's important?

Currently I am most interested in risk and resilience to early life stress and adversity. I've recently been studying the long-term development of children who are raised in institutions and experience profound early neglect and deprivation. We know that children raised in these settings are at risk for all sorts of later cognitive, emotional, and social difficulties. But perhaps more important, I am interested in the potential for children to recover from such odious experiences, and the role of the family and social relationships in buffering against long-term difficulties. So how can supportive, enriched, positive caregiving environments enable children to thrive after severe early adversity? And how do we think about resilience – as something intrinsic to individuals, or as something reflecting an individual's capacity to be positively influenced by their environment?

Finally, I'm interested in what is shared, and what is unique, to different mental health problems, and the various mechanisms (social, biological, cognitive, etc.) that are operating. This is an important endeavour in order to better understand the etiology of mental health problems, and ultimately to tailor services to children, adolescents, and families on the basis of each person's unique profile of strengths and difficulties.

What courses are you teaching this year? How would you describe your approach to teaching and learning?

I'll be teaching two primary courses – Lifespan Development and Clinical Assessment of Children and Adolescents. My approach to teaching is that learning is lifelong and iterative, with both content knowledge and experience mutually informing one another. My main objective in teaching is to get students to think critically about various complex issues, and to challenge them to integrate multiple perspectives when trying to make sense of information. Rationalism, skepticism, and pluralism are three principles that permeate my teaching. I want students to be thoughtful of their own and others' experience, and to continually question what they know and believe to be true. I also promote an empirical approach to understanding phenomena, scaffolding students to have a good sense of how to interrogate data and to be good consumers of science. Finally, I want students to think across layers of context when trying to understand human development  from families and schools to communities and the social policies that shape them.

Development is complex, and behaviour at any one time is due to a confluence of factors that unfold over the life course. Thinking through these various factors is important to better understand oneself and others, and I think that will make students successful in whatever field they choose to go into. 

What do you like to do in your spare time (any favourite activities)?

My wife and I lived on the west coast for a little while, and that really fostered our love of the outdoors. We like hiking and walking whenever we can. But having grown up in the Toronto area, we also love what the city has to offer, especially the great theatre scene, musicals, ballets, etc. I'm so excited to be back in Toronto because it also has a world-class food and restaurant scene. We love checking out new restaurants or different types of cuisine from different parts of the world, and there is really no better place than Toronto to immerse yourself in different cultures. 

What is your favourite cuisine and why?

I would probably go with Mexican, which has been a go to since I became vegan a couple years ago. But Thai and Indian are close seconds.

What is the one thing you like about Toronto and why?

Its diversity. Diversity of cultures, food, neighborhoods, festivals, music, people, and ideas. There really is no other place I've been to that is so diverse – where you can go anywhere in the city and get a unique experience while also feeling like you are right at home. Toronto is really a special place.  

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments, personally and professionally?

Personally, my relationship with my wife, my family, and my friends, who I've had since elementary school. Long-term relationships take work and take sacrifice, but the payoff is well worth it. Professionally, I think my greatest accomplishment has been the breadth of experiences I have had in different training environments across North America. I've had wonderful opportunities to train with some of the world's best clinicians and researchers, and this has made me a better clinician and researcher. I wouldn't have had those opportunities if I didn't take a few risks and wasn't supported by some great mentors. So pushing my own limits and taking on new challenges in unfamiliar situations has been very rewarding.  

You can view Dr. Mark Wade's full faculty profile here.