Meet the Enhance Team

Ed Diener is the principle investigator of this research. Dr. Diener has studied happiness for the last 35 years and is known as Dr. Happy. He is often considered the foremost world authority on the science of well-being, having published over 250 articles and books on the topic. Dr. Diener loves research and teaching, but he also loves spending time with his family. His wife and 3 of his children are all psychologists. Dr. Diener grew up on a farm, but was always drawn to the question of why some people seemed happier than others.

Dr. Lesley Lutes is an Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Training at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Lutes is a registered psychologist whose area of research is in developing innovative behavioral treatment interventions focused on lifestyle change. She developed an evidence-based new treatment approach called small changes, which has resulted in national recognition and awards, and over $3 million dollars of research funding. She has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and over 100 presentations. Dr. Lutes is happiest when she is spending time with good friends and family, helping others, and hiking with her husband, 3-year-old son.

Dr. Derrick Wirtz is a Senior Instructor at the University of British Columbia who studies happiness and well-being. Dr. Wirtz has taught psychology in Illinois, Arizona, and North Carolina, where he was recognized as a Distinguished Professor for Teaching and as a Scholar-Teacher award winner. He has authored more than 20 articles and chapters on well-being. Dr. Wirtz is happy when he is hiking and spending time outdoors with his 3-year old son, his wife, and the family dog, Winston.

When Dr. Kushlev first moved from Bulgaria to the United States to pursue his personal happiness, he had no idea that his career path will lead him to study what brings happiness to others. Today, Dr. Kushlev has published in top scientific journals and in prestigious media outlets such as the New York Times. He is passionate about music, dance, cycling, gardening, and the beach!

Samantha Heintzelman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Virginia. Dr. Heintzelman’s research focuses on subjective well-being, meaning in life, and personality. Her work has been published in top psychology journals and featured widely in the media. In her free time, Dr. Heintzelman enjoys running, playing volleyball, taking in live music and comedy, and traveling. She is at her happiest when she is surrounded by her friends and family, and especially delights in her frequent video call play dates with her 1-year-old niece.

Damian Leitner is currently in his third-year of studies in the clinical psychology program at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. His research interests are in emotional and cognitive outcomes following brain injury, as well as happiness and well-being as they relate to personality traits. Prior to graduate school, Damian worked as a psychometrist, a volunteer firefighter, and provided cognitive rehabilitation and case management services for people living with brain injury. In his off-time Damian enjoys hiking with his wife and dog, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and watching a good movie or sitcom.

May Kanipayor is a PhD Clinical Psychology student at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan. Ms. Kanipayor has worked primarily with borderline personality disorder and substance use populations. Her research interests include assessment and treatment of borderline personality disorder, crosscultural variations in psychopathy, quality of life in mental health, development and modifications of psychologically-based interventions, and quantitative/qualitative methods in clinical research. May enjoys taking road trips with her partner and hosting dinners with family and friends.