Our Team


Susan Cadell (Principal Investigator)

Professor of Social Work at Renison University College School of Social Work, at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Her social work experience includes various aspects of practice before she became an academic. She has an extensive background in research and gained international stature in the areas of death, dying and bereavement. She has led 15 projects and participated in 30 multi-disciplinary teams, from small internal and foundation funds to CIHR- and SSHRC-funded national grants. She has been volunteering for many years with Bereaved Families of Ontario (BFO), Midwestern Region, where she serves on the Board and on the Professional Advisory Committee. She also facilitates grief groups in her community.


Melissa Reid

Master’s level trained social worker. She has served as an Executive Director at Bereaved Families of Ontario Midwestern Region, on the Board and on the Professional Advisory Committee, and she was also one of BFO’s Professional Consultants. Cadell and Reid have collaborated for many years both at BFO and during Reid’s Master of Social Work studies. Reid is a grief counsellor in a private practice she recently founded, Calming Tree Counselling, in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.


Mary Ellen Macdonald

Mary is a medical anthropologist. Her FRSQ-funded research program on Improving the Health of Vulnerable Populations includes two vulnerable populations with urgent health needs: 1. Palliative care patients and their families; and 2. Indigenous populations. She is Program Head of the Palliative Care Research Program at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, where she did her postdoctoral training, and Associate Professor at McGill University. Her current research in palliative care includes a socio-cultural analysis of child death, and a study to improve palliative care services across Inuit communities in Northern Quebec. She has extensive experience with qualitative methods, leading the McGill Qualitative Health Research Group since 2009.


Marcel O’Gorman

Professor in English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, where he also holds the title of University Research Chair. He has been the principal investigator of three SSHRC-­funded projects in the past decade, and has collaborated on a number of additional SSHRC-funded projects. He has also held two CFI awards, and has been funded by the Ontario Arts Council for his digital art practice. O’Gorman is the Director of the Critical Media Lab where Masters and PhD students are trained in digital research and digital production techniques, informed by critical approaches to the impact of technology on society. He brings extensive experience with research, interactive media design, and student supervision. O’Gorman also provides links to the digital and artistic communities. Of note, he is particularly interested in "necromedia": the relationship between death and technology, and he has published a monograph (U of Minnesota Press, 2015) based on his SSHRC-funded research of this topic. This project will allow O’Gorman to explore new creative expressions in this area.


Deborah Davidson

Associate Professor of Sociology at York University. She is the editor of the book The Tattoo Project: Creating a Digital Archive for Commemorative Tattoos. As co-investigator on this project, she serves as a liaison to participants in The Tattoo Project, which includes academics, tattoo artists and tattooed people. One of the original aims of The Tattoo Project is to build an interactive digital archive of commemorative tattoos. This project will advance that work and contribute to the archive by increasing the number of memorial tattoos. A qualitative sociologist, Davidson has contributed to the scholarly literature on both qualitative methods and grief and bereavement. She has been involved with Bereaved Families of Ontario as peer facilitator, consultant, and on the Executive Boards of Halton-Peel and Ontario. This project will allow Davidson to advance toward the development of an interactive, online archive of commemorative tattoos.


Melanie Baljko

Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University. She is a computer scientist specializing in design for human-computer interaction, and she has extensive experience working in highly interdisciplinary teams, bridging from computer science to arts, social science, and humanities-based research. Baljko has expertise in the design and evaluation of user interfaces, including web-based interfaces and crowd-sourcing mechanisms, which are key to this project.