David Nicholas

Associate Dean of Research and Partnerships

Leadership Team


Edmonton Campus

Ph.D. (Social Work)

University of Toronto


University of Calgary


University of Calgary

Contact information


Research Activities

Research areas

  • Critical Disability
  • Health, Mental Health and Wellness

Current Research

Dr. Nicholas is currently collaborating with several interdisciplinary teams to conduct the following studies:

Nicholas, D.B., Graham, J., & Shier, M. (2015-2017). Workplace violence in Alberta child welfare. Government of Alberta – Occupational Health and Safety Futures. $158,663. 

Nicholas, D.B., Hodgetts, S., Clarke, M., & Plue, L. (2015-2017). Building Employer Capacity in Advancing Employment Opportunity for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. $153,098.

Cohen, E., Berry, J., Brehaut, J., Guttman, A., Lim, A., Mahant, S., Major-Cook, N., McNeil, D., Morinis, J., Nicholas, D., Offringa, M., Peebles, E., Ray, J., Rosenbaum, P., Stremler, R., Stromquist, L., To, T., Vigod, S., Williams, L., Wodchis, W. (2015-2021). Health Outcomes of Children with Medical Complexity and their Caregivers. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. $997,729. 

Zwaigenbaum, L., Bryson, S.E., Brian, J., Garon, N., Kushki, A., Nicholas, D., Scherer, S., Schmidt, L., Smith, I., Szatmari, P., & Vaillancourt, T. (2015-2021). A Foundation Grant to Improve Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. $1,583,584.

Nicholas, D.B., West, L.J., Caulfield, T.A., & Mantulak, A.P. (2015-2017). Organ Donation Determinants and Approaches: A Critical Review with a Focus on Kidney Transplantation. Kidney Foundation of Canada. $99,997

Nicholas, D.B. (2015-2016). The Development of a Repository of Evaluation Metrics for Employment Support Programs in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Speaks Canada. $25,000

McCrimmon, A., Smith, A., & Nicholas, D. (2014-2015). The Elephant in the Room: Talking to Children with ASD about their Diagnosis. Alberta Centre for Child, Family, and Community Research. $39,460.

Soscia, J., Orkin, J., Cohen, E., Adams, S., Nicholas, D., Marcon, P., & Gallagher, K. (2014-2015). The experience of caregivers of children with medical complexity receiving blenderized tube feeding: a qualitative study. Hospital for Sick Children/University of Toronto, Norman Saunders Complex Care Initiative Grant Competition, $11,730

Nicholas, D.B., Zwaigenbaum, L., Clarke, M., Lowe, K., McMorris, C., & Mitchell, W.  (2014-2017).  Examining Labour Force Participation among Adults with High-Functioning Autism.  Social Science and Humanities Research Council Canada, Insight Grant, $287,688.

Mackie, A. S. Rempel, G. R., Nicholas, D. (2014-2016). Congenital Heart Adolescents Participating in Transition Evaluation Research: The CHAPTER III Study of Young Adolescents, Women and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI) 2014 Innovation Grant Competition, $49,998.

Adams, S., Cohen, E., Mahant, S., Kanani, R., Nicholas, D., & Boydell, K. (2014-2015). An Exploration of Care Mapping Among Families of Children with Medical Complexity (CMC). Associated Medical Services, AMS Phoenix Project Call to Caring Grant, $20,000.

Nicholas, D. B., Zwaigenbaum, L., Clarke, M., Ghali, L., Hodgetts, Mitchell, W., & Johnson, A.  (2014-2015).  An Exploratory Examination of the Transition to Adulthood in Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Alberta Centre for Family, Child and Community Research, Small Investigator Grant, $39,787. 

Pelech, W.J., Babins-Wager, R.B., Basso, R.V., Este, D.C., & Nicholas, D.B. (2013-2017). Reconceptualizing the Role of Diversity in Group Development. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Insight Grant. $209,790.

Nicholas, D.B., Schneider, N., Hewitt, J., Lepitre, N. (2013-2016). Development and Piloting of Nationally Leading Curricula for Job Coach Training in Autism. Autism Speaks Canada. $25,000

Nicholas, D.B. (2013-2015). NeuroDevNet: Health Economics and the Social Determinants of Health as a Framework for Understanding Socioeconomic and Quality of Life Outcomes Among Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders and their Caregivers. NeuroDevNet. $153,000.

Zwaigenbaum, L., Nicholas, D.B., Roberts, W., Muskat, B., Newton, A., Sharon, R., Ranapalan, S., & Cohen-Silver, J.  (2012- 2015). Evaluating the Impact of Emergency Room Services for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (AS ATN) & Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P).  $299, 582.

Mackie, A., Magill-Evans, J., Nicholas, D.B., Rempel, G., & Vonder Muhll, I.  (2012-2015).  Congenital Heart Adolescents: Program of Transition Evaluation Research (The CHAPTER program).  Mazankowksi Alberta Heart Institute/University Hospital Foundation (UHF) Innovative Team Grants.  ($300,000).  


David Nicholas, PhD, RSW, joined the Faculty of Social Work in the Central and Northern Alberta Region as an Associate Professor in 2008. He has a background in psychosocial outcome and intervention research related to children, youth and families affected by illness and disability. Dr. Nicholas brings expertise in qualitative and mixed method research approaches. He brings an extensive clinical and administrative background in the fields of social work and health and disability.

Dr. Nicholas is the author of over 70 research publications. Over the past 20 years he has held over $12 million in research grants, and has been a PI on major grant funding from the federal and provincial sources including grants funded by SSHRC and CIHR. Dr. Nicholas has been a key leader in nurturing capacity building, addressing vocational issues in ASD, and building partnerships in Canada and internationally. Much of his current research focuses on seeking more equitable opportunities for obtaining and retaining employment for persons with ASD


Dr. Beverley J. Antle Legacy of Hope Award Recipient for Excellence in Social Work (2008)