PhD Research - USask (2022 - 2026)

Alexandria's forthcoming doctoral work - which has been jointly funded by the University of Saskatchewan's Dean's Scholarship, a SSHRC CGS-D Federal Scholarship, Mental Health Research of Canada and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation - aims to focus on continuing to advance the importance of "mattering" and animal-assisted intervention for those living with suicidality.

Utilizing an institutional ethnography methodology, a strong patient-oriented perspective will be employed to explore human-animal interactions, and the role canines have in recovery work for those living with pain and distress. Secondary exploration aims to better understand how patients navigate self-resourcing in the absence of trauma-informed care practices, especially when re-traumatization and isolation occurs whilst attempting to access care and services.  Her work is being supervised by Dr. Colleen Dell (Sociology; USask), and committee members Dr. James Stempien (Emergency Medicine; USask), Dr. Pamela Downe (Medical Anthropology; USask), and Dr. Fiona Webster (Rehabilitation Science; Western and University of Toronto).

Additionally, Alexandria is focusing her course work in advanced qualitative health research (institutional ethnography), critical disability studies, community health, health policy, and health program planning and evaluation. She continues to provide support to the One Health & Wellness Office, the Pawsitive Connections Lab, and Improving Pain in Saskatchewan research projects, as well as acting as an on-going teaching assistant for Sociology 307 ("Animals in Society").

MA Thesis - Defended December 2021

Successful defence and acceptance without revision occurred on December 1st, 2021 by committee members Dr. Colleen Dell (Sociology) and Dr. Carolyn Brooks (Sociology), External Examiner Dr. Pamela Downe (Anthropology), and chair, Dr. Harley Dickinson (Sociology). Alexandria received the Outstanding Graduating Sociology Student  Award from the Canadian Sociological Association for her MA work. 

Alexandria’s MA research was conducted through the Department of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Colleen A. Dell. The SSHRC funded research - “Exploring Mattering and the Human-Animal Bond: The Impact of Service Dogs for Military Veterans at High Risk for Suicide - was a secondary thematic analysis conducted with Canadian military veterans  to assess the potential social significance and impact that service dogs have for those at high risk for suicide.

The project analyzed data from an 18-month long project conducted by the One Health & Wellness Research office which was funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and sponsored by Health Canada. The original project - “The Impact of Service Dogs in the Lives of Veterans Who Problematically Use Opioids" - examined the impact that service dogs have on veterans’ substance use activities and overall wellness.

Primary findings of the thesis conclude that mattering can exist through human-canine interactions (which has previously only been explored on a human-human basis), and that SDs are reported as being a direct catalyst in reducing suicidality, therefore highlighting the importance of the human-animal bond in assisting with overall suicide risk.

The full thesis is online and available for review, HERE. Publication of one of the two thesis manuscripts will be available at Human-Animal INteraction Summer 2024.

Thesis Findings Presentation - 990 Seminar Series

This video is a PRACTICE RUN of a presentation I was delivering to the Sociology Department at the University of Saskatchewan as apart of the 990 Seminar Series on April 30, 2021.


Service Dog Research

Part of my role as a graduate student and research assistant is actively working on service dog research being conducted through the One Health & Wellness Research office and PAWSitive Connections Lab.

My MA research helped inform and provide data for an evidence-informed substance use recovery toolkit for Veterans in the AUDEAMUS service dog program, where the findings will be shared with national service dog organizations for utilization and evaluation. Alexandria continues to work with Dr. Linzi Williamson supporting her CIHR funded service dog research.

More information can be found at:

Suicide Research

I am currently involved in multiple projects focused on suicide prevention and suicidology remains a core focus for all my research. In addition to my MA thesis and on-going doctoral dissertation regarding suicidality, I have previously published on the topic through UBC Press and the Human-Animal Interaction Journal.

My undergraduate thesis was a discourse analysis on the Government of Canada's "Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention" for which I was the  "Best Presentation" recipient for my academic paper at an undergraduate conference hosted by York University.

I spoke to the CTV National News on May 13, 2022 regarding this topic - click HERE for full video clip.

Therapy Dog Research

Part of my role as a graduate student and research assistant is actively working on therapy dog research being conducted through the One Health & Wellness Research office and PAWSitive Connections Lab.

I previously held the position of "PAWS Your Stress" Therapy Dog Program Coordinator (prior to COVID-19). A promotional video giving an overview of the program was produced by myself, Dr. Colleen Dell, and director John Ogresko in 2019.

As of 2024, I am continuing to work alongside the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program as a community partner for my doctoral research, lead an independent study in the RUH Emergency Department with therapy dogs, as well as volunteering as a therapy dog handler with my own dogs, Zola and Marcus.

More information can be found at:

Chronic Pain Research & Advocacy

As apart of my involvement with the Saskatewan Pain Society and my lived experience with chronic pain, I have been involved in numerous projects on chronic pain such as introducing therapy-dogs to the emergency department for patients in pain, assisting in developing graphic novels for care provider pain education, and developing change strategies for the Saskatchewan Health Region.

On January 31st, 2022, I was able to speak on behalf of SaskPain to Chantal Wagner on the Global TV Morning Show (Saskatoon).

Knowledge Translation

More outputs and information related to these various areas and projects can be found on the KNOWLEDGE TRANSLATION page.


Independent Therapy Dog Research

Starting in 2023, Alexandria began conducting a MHRC-SHRF funded project focused on animal-assisted intervention. The project aims to generate and mobilize knowledge about how therapy dog-handler teams can support individuals with concerns related to mental health (including substance use) within an emergency department (ED) setting to inform healthcare practices, policy, and future research.

Details on the community-based study, in collaboration with St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, can be viewed HERE. See an overview of findings on my knowledge translation page.

Q+A: Sask. researcher says service dogs prevent suicides (The Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

May 10, 2022 - Alexandria Pavelich sits with her dog Zola, who is a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog in Training. Pavelich, a PhD student researcher in the University of Saskatchewan's Office of One Health and Wellness, says service dogs not only save lives but can mitigate the growing mental health crisis. Read the full StarPhoenix article and front page coverage HERE.

Photo Credit: Matt Smith, Saskatoon StarPhoenix/PostMedia

Chronic Pain in Saskatchewan

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this website are my own and not those of SaskPain.

Beginning January 2021 until Summer 2023, I served on the Board of Directors for the Saskatchewan Pain Society Inc. (SaskPain), and this involvement was inspired by own lived experience of chronic pain. This role enabled me to act as a patient advocate to raise awareness about chronic pain treatment and patient concerns in our province, as well as combine my research experience as a pain sociologist to improve care procedures, policies, and help develop and share resources for patients within the province.

I currently have a role on the “Improving Pain in Saskatchewan” advisory panel and as a researcher, am helping develop a graphic medicine project to assist in reducing stigma around chronic pain and substance use, and am involved with various chronic pain working groups that are developing in tandem with the "Partners in Pain" remote projects. I am involved with the PPDA Association and connected with a network of scholars such as Dr. David Schechter, Dr. Howard Schubiner, and Dr. Gabor Maté studying mind/body healing for chronic pain conditions that do not respond to conventional therapies.

"Your Partners in Pain" Podcast

In collaboration with SaskPain, I served as a patient partner and advocate in a knowledge translation role from 2020 - 2023  helping with communication via resource development and education.

I was also the developer and host of the "Your Partners In Pain" podcast which is programming targeting chronic pain patients, care providers, and health professionals. The goal is to provide education while also giving a voice to those living with chronic pain in the province of Saskatchewan.

Episode Listings can be found here: - as well as on all major listening platforms (Spotify, AppleMusic, GooglePodcast, AmazonMusic).

Menstrual Pain Phone App Research

I am currently acting as a contract UX researcher under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Gagnon in the Family Health Lab.

I am contributing to development and analysis (patient engagement, recruitment, data collection, survey analysis) on a usability research study focused on improving adolescent menstrual pain after the use of a mindfulness-based phone app. 

PCS Advocacy

My lived experience of chronic pain has been ongoing for over 15 years where I have struggled with various issues where I have used a variety of techniques to overcome and manage my pain: in person therapies, online rehabilitation programs, medicinal yoga, nervous system regulation, somatic experiencing therapy, and neural circuit pain reprocessing techniques. I am a large supporter of the Curable app as a tool for managing pain conditions.

See a short presentation I was requested to share regarding my lived experience on behalf of #VeinHealthAwareness Month in the UK, where I spoke to my own experiences with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (Pelvic Venous Disease). I detail some facts about the condition, as well as the treatment process and outcomes I sought for this under recognized disease at the innovative and award-winning research center, The Whiteley Clinic in London, UK.

I've assisted TWC as a Canadian patient partner helping do advocacy work and provide patient education to assist those suffering from PCS since 2021. More information and guest postings have been made by me at their Instagram page.

Introducing a Therapy Dog for Staff Members in the Peter MacKinnon and Administration Building (2019/2020)

As part of my role as the PAWS Your Stress program coordinator, I was tasked with helping expand the therapy dog visits on USask campus. Partnering with Tonya Wirchenko – who is the Manager of Executive Projects & Initiatives through the Office of Vice President Research – and her therapy dog, Zaphod, we conducted a pilot project for USask Staff.

Positives results from our project are available in THIS REPORT.

"A Study of the ‘Pawsitive’ Impacts of Therapy Dog Visits with Adult Emergency Department Pain Patients"

I was a research assistant on a project examining the impact of visiting therapy dogs on patients’ experiences of pain in the Royal University Hospital Emergency Department during the summer of 2019. 

See peer reviewed publication HERE, and peer reviewed Science Break commentary HERE.

Making I-SPARX Fly in Nunavut (2017-2019)

While at York University, I acted as a research assistant for "I-SPARX Fly in Nunavut." A four-year CIHR funded youth-led project, the goal was to design and test an Inuit computer game that builds resilience and promotes mental health.

Under the supervision of Dr. Yvonne Bohr, my project involvement for years 1-3 of the project included administrative and research-related tasks such as focusing group coding, creating safety manuals, and developing research workshops for youth in Nunavut. More information can be found HERE.


USask CGPS: Imagine 2022

I was a featured graduate student in the 2022 print version of "Imagine," the University of Saskatchewan's annual magazine produced on behalf of the College of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

The online version can be found, HERE.

Canadian Sociological Association (CSA) - Outstanding Graduand Award

As apart of June 2022 convocation at the University of Saskatchewan. Colleagues Leah Houseman (Undergraduate), Dr. Nina Yuchen Gao (PhD), Dr. Terry Wotherspoon (previous CSA president and our social theory professor), and myself (Masters) - all recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA).

Animal-Assisted Intervention: The Impact of Working Dogs through the One Health & Wellness Office / SUAP

On April 13th, 2022 I was able to present my researching findings to the  Honorable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health & Addictions alongside Dr. Colleen Dell, Darlene Chalmers, and Maryellen Gibson as apart of series of federal meetings occurring at university campuses across Canada.

See related: Tweets on the event from Carolyn (and post-event). 

990 Seminar Series - Instructional Activity

On April 30, 2021, I was able to deliver my thesis findings to the Sociology Department at the University of Saskatchewan as apart of the 990 Seminar Series.

Department-Focused Instructional Activity

As a CGS-M SSHRC recipient, in October 2019 I was able to  co-develop and lead a 990 Department Seminar on how to secure federal funding as a graduate student.

"Undergraduate Student Expectations & Experience in York University’s Sociology Program" (2019)

In conjunction with SUSA, FLR is a student-led initiative developed to utilize skills learned in SOCI 2030.6 (Sociological Research Method & Design) and SOCI 3030.3 (Social Statistics) by conducting an independent research project. The 2018-2019 project assessed the attitudes and satisfaction that undergraduates have with the YorkU sociology program, combining mixed methods for data collection via surveys and interviews. Findings have been disseminated to the university in a formal report. PDF of Report Infograph Available Here

ISA World Congress of Sociology (2018)

In 2018, I was given the opportunity to volunteer during the week-long Sociology Congress in Toronto, Ontario. Iacted as a session monitor where I oversaw presentation sessions and assistedinternational presenters with set-up and technical issues during their panel. Other general duties included providing importantCongress information to guests, assisting delegates with wayfinding and serviceinquiries, overseeing safety/security concerns, and responding to accessibilityissues.

Sociology Undergraduate Student Association (SUSA) - York University

During my time at York University where I was an executive member of SUSA, I was involved in numerous projects. In addition to overseeing all social media, I was the co-chair and executive director for a sociology undergraduate conference we hosted with attendees from all across Western Canada and the GTA. The academic conference website: HERE

academic health researcher & photojournalist.
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