PhD student, Public Health and Health Systems (Aging, Health and Well-Being)

Why did you choose to pursue graduate studies at the University of Waterloo?

I chose to research at the School of Public Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo as it will provide me with a unique and exemplary training experience. The department provides strong support for research and the Collaborative PhD Program in Aging, Health and Well-being promotes a multidisciplinary and collaborative research and learning environment. My advising team provides me with expert knowledge in cognitive aging and neurobiology as well as experience with Canadian health datasets. My primary supervisor, Suzanne Tyas, collaborates with an ongoing group of researchers from across Canada. Her research assessing stressors (i.e. social isolation) and cognitive disorders (i.e. depression) provides me with fundamental foundational knowledge. My other supervisor, John Mielke, provides expertise in neurobiology and biological sampling. He researches how early life experiences impact health over the life course; appreciating that if we are truly going to target diseases occurring later in life, we must think decades before they appear.

Carrie ShoreyDescribe your research and what makes you passionate about it:

In general, I research risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia in aging adults. However, during my PhD I have focused on the effects of stress on inflammation and cognitive aging among populations with heightened exposure to stressors (i.e., refugees and immigrants). The migratory experiences of refugees and immigrants are stressful and may lead to long-term impacts on physical and cognitive health. Specifically, trauma experienced prior to forced migration (e.g., civil war, dire economic conditions, etc.) and resettlement experiences (i.e., psychosocial stressors) increase the risk of poorer cognitive health. This is an exciting and unique opportunity to fulfill my commitment to supporting the voices of those often ignored and silenced in health research. Working with leading researchers who support my curiosity and research initiatives allows me to participate in intellectually challenging and novel research such as this. My research will also provide the refugee and immigrant community in the Region of Waterloo with sorely needed data that would allow for increased funding for health care services, particularly mental health.

Tell us about where you are from

I mainly grew up in Kingston, Ontario, but went to the University of Guelph for my undergraduate degree. For my master's degree, I moved to Indiana to attend Purdue University. I seem to keep moving to cities with major rivers running through them but no waterfront. I think the access and the large waterfront are what I miss the most about Kingston.

Tell us about what activities, groups, events you are involved in

Since arriving at Waterloo, volunteering has allowed me to work closely with marginalized and highly vulnerable communities. A particularly meaningful experience has been my work with Sanctuary Refugee Health Clinic in Kitchener, Ontario where I provide administrative and research support to this non-profit health clinic that supports over 5,000 refugee and immigrant patients. Since May 2020 I have also been screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms. Within the University I am the Co-President of the SPHS Graduate Student Association supporting graduate students while acting as a resource, liaison, and organizing events for students to connect.

What campus services have you accessed and how have they been useful to your academics or your well-being as a student?

The Writing and Communication Centre has been an amazing resource to me as a graduate student. Through their one-on-one meetings, I have become a better writer. I have also enjoyed participating in their workshops. During Reading Week, I had the opportunity to participate in their Dissertation Workshop. This workshop provided us with skills to overcome procrastination and plateauing in our writing and ways to connect to other graduate students who were going through the same thing.

How do you spend your free time?

In my "spare" time (do we even have that as PhD students?) I enjoy going on long walks and runs exploring the city of Waterloo. This year I look forward to participating in races in person. I also like to hang out with my cat Ella who has experienced my entire University education and followed me to each city/country I have moved to. I am pretty sure she is wondering if this will ever end...

Country of origin: Canada

Domestic or International: Domestic

Academic stream: Research

Full-time or part-time: Full-time

Research supervisorSuzanne Tyas, John G. Mielke

Graduate student awards held: Provost Doctoral Entrance Award for Women, J. Alan George Student Leadership Award; Applied Health Sciences (AHS) Entrance Award

TA/RA or GRS held: TA/RA

University of Waterloo