2023 Research and Practice in Health Sciences Conference

The School of Public Health Sciences (SPHS) hosted the inaugural Research and Practice in Health Sciences Conference on March 30, 2023.

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The aim of this student-led conference is to expose current undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to a range of career paths, including research and practice related to public health. The conference offers an opportunity for the community to reflect on skills needed for health research and practice and provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with presentation experience.

Conference program

Time Event
8:30 to 9:00 a.m. Registration and sign-in
9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Oral presentations
10:30 to 11:00 a.m. Coffee break and poster viewing
11:00 a.m. to noon Professional student panel
noon to 1:30 p.m. Lunch and poster viewing
1:30 to 3:00 p.m. Oral presentations
3:00 to 3:15 p.m. Awards and conference closing
3:15 p.m. Coffee break and networking

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Careers panel: Practice in Health Sciences

Leslie Andrade, RD, PhD Candidate

Lesley Andrade is a registered dietitian and PhD Candidate in the School of Public Health Sciences. Her doctoral research focuses on low- and no-calorie sweeteners, examining Canadian’s exposure to such sweeteners for the first time. After completing her Masters in Community Nutrition at the University of Toronto, Lesley began working at a northern Ontario health unit as a public health nutritionist leading healthy eating and healthy weights programming in workplaces, schools, and the broader community. With over 13 years of public health experience, Lesley is now supporting the health unit’s pandemic recovery plan and other organizational-wide initiatives as a foundational standards specialist. Lesley will speak to her experiences planning and evaluating public health initiatives, leading various knowledge translation initiatives, and supporting stakeholder engagement. Lesley’s primary motivation for completing a PhD was to enhance her research skills to better support public health research and practice. Her advanced training in dietary assessment methods will contribute to improved population and public health nutrition policies and programs.

Jess Brand, BA, BEd

Jess Brand is a part-time student in the Master of Public Health program, having joined the program in Fall 2022. Jess works for Indwell, a growing charity that provides housing and supports to over 1000 people across southwestern Ontario. Jess has been with Indwell for over 12 years in various roles, in housing support, working alongside nurses in community development, leading and training in bed bug education and prevention, training in eviction prevention practices. As regional manager with Indwell, Jess leads interdisciplinary teams in providing supports for people seeking health, wellness, and belonging in Indwell’s affordable housing environments. Jess builds interprofessional partnerships across housing, homelessness, and health sectors, with an eye for equitable access to health care and housing. The social determinants of health are foundational guideposts for all of Jess’ work at Indwell—they are the uniting factors that make interprofessional solutions possible. Prior to working with Indwell, Jess was involved in community development and organizing in neighborhood planning teams, and in the homelessness sector with youth seeking housing, and as a teacher in elementary schools. Jess lives in Hamilton with her husband Tim and their three teens.

Dr. Maxim Ben-Yakov, MD

Dr. Ben-Yakov is an emergency medicine specialist in Toronto, having previously done a short stint as a physiotherapist in Montreal. He attended Medical School at McGill University, and completed a residency in Emergency Medicine, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Sick Kids Hospital. Additionally, Dr. Ben-Yakov completed certificates in Quality Improvement and Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. He continues to work clinically with direct involvement in various quality/informatics projects across the two institutions where he currently works as a full time emergency physician, University Health Network and Humber River Hospital. Dr. Ben-Yakov also continues to teach residents and students. He is enrolled in the School of Public Health Sciences Master of Health Informatics program.

Tasha Shields, MPH

Tasha Shields has a diverse work background as a policy analyst, health promoter, research manager, and community connector, within both Indigenous and mainstream community settings. She completed the Master in Public Health (MPH) program at the University of Waterloo in 2013. Tasha returned to the University of Waterloo in 2021 and is currently working on her PhD in the School of Public Health, with a specialty in work and health. Tasha will speak about her experience working with different levels of government and Indigenous organizations and how the MPH program has impacted her career and research.

Sarah Sousa, MSc, PhD candidate

Sarah Sousa is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Health Sciences. Her research examines the process and outcomes of the implementation of aging technologies for persons living with dementia in rural and northern communities. Sarah completed her MSc at the University of Waterloo in 2013 and shortly after began her career as a senior research and evaluation associate for a national charity in the field of mental health and substance use treatment in Canada. While working full-time, she began her PhD in 2018 as a part-time student, and more recently she has transitioned to being a full-time graduate student. Sarah will speak to her experience and provide her perspective on the skills that are critical to success in leading research and evaluation studies, working in transdisciplinary teams and managing career and education goals.

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Oral presentations

Oral presentations were a maximum of eight minutes followed by a two minute question and answer period.

9:00 to 10:30 a.m.

Title Authors
Body weight perceptions among youth from six countries and associations with social media use: Findings from the International Food Policy Study Karen Hock (Presenting author), Lana Vanderlee, Christine M. White, David Hammond
COVID-19 'Infodemic' Management: Russia's Geopolitical Influence Instrument Halyna Padalko (Presenting author), Plinio Morita
Impact of Covid-19 pandemic on population-level behavioural changes: An IoT based study in USA Jasleen Kaur (Presenting author), Kirti Sundar Sahu, Arlene Oetomo, Vivek Chauhan, Plinio Morita
Monitoring food affordability in Ontario: assessing the reliability and validity of a new online Nutritious Food Basket Liza Boyar (Presenting author), Ellis Lakhani, Ivan Ho, Bridget King, Lauren Kennedy, Mary Ellen Prange, Daniel Harrington, Rachel Prowse
Rationale for Use of Adapted or Modified Methods with People with Dementia in Research: A Scoping Review Emma Conway (Presenting author), Ellen MacEachen, Laura Middleton, Carrie McAiney
Role of an Environmental Health Officer in response to COVID-19 at long term care sites Judy Tung (Presenting author)
Increased odds to new HIV infections among babies that were non-exposed but breastfeeding infants at birth, January 2018 to June 2022, Western province Zambia: A case series Douglas Singini (Presenting author), Craig R. Janes

1:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Title Authors
A longitudinal study of the combined effects of social isolation and loneliness on memory Ji Won Kang (Presenting author), Mark Oremus, Suzanne Tyas, Joel Dubin, Charity Oga-Omenka
Indoor temperature in Canadian heat health warning systems: Deployment of a real-time indoor temperature data ecosystem with community housing and local health partners Arlene Oetomo (Presenting author), Jasleen Kaur, Kang Wang, Zahid Butt, Peter Berry, Plinio Morita
Perceived social support subtypes mediate the association between depressive symptoms and executive function in women aged 75 and over in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) Emily C. Rutter (Presenting author), Anita Iacono, Carrie L. Shorey, Mark Oremus, Colleen J. Maxwell, Suzanne L. Tyas
Nicotine content and flavours of e-liquids in Canada: a scan of the online retail market from 2020-2021 Kimberly D'Mello (Presenting author), David Hammond, Syed Mahamad, Danielle Wiggers, Katherine East
A research protocol for the development of mental health care quality indicators for youth with bipolar disorder  Dane Mauer-Vakil (Presenting author), Chris Perlman
Mental Health Service Use Among Children and Youth with Physical-Mental Multimorbidity Lauren Gosse (Presenting author), Mark Ferro
Needs Assessment Report: Exploring the Wellness Needs of ICU Staff Patil Mksyartinian (Presenting author)

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Poster presentations

Postdoctoral fellows and graduate posters: Video presentations

Presentations will play at two locations in the Health Expansion Foyer from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and in the Sun Life Auditorium during the conference lunch break on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Title Authors
Legal and ethical issues in using alert systems to locate missing older adults with dementia Adebusola Adekoya, Christine Daum, Antonio Miguel-Cruz, Lili Liu
Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Healthcare Settings during COVID-19: Strategies for Protecting Staff, Patients and Visitors Isra Ahmad and Ernest Osei
Examining the Application and Use of the Baby-Friendly Initiative within Rural and Urban health facilities in Canada among Indigenous Mothers Meagan Bacciaglia, Hannah Tait Neufeld
Exploring data governance along the continuum of care for Active Assisted Living technologies Gaya Bin Noon, Thoko Phiri, Laura Xavier Fadrique, Jennifer Teague, Plinio Morita
Does Social Position within a Group of Laboratory Rats Affect their Learning and Memory? Charithe J. Bonifacio, John G. Mielke
Community resource guides for people living with dementia and their care partners: A grey literature review Isabella Chawrun, Busola Adeyoka, Cathy Conway, Lili Liu
Evaluation of the Capacity Building Model for the Power Up Program: A Mixed Methods Study Melvin C. Chen, David Larose, Vicky Drapeau, Chris Perlman, Troy Glover, Jennifer Yessis
Climate action through public health education & training in the European Region Tara Chen
Does the Russian war in Ukraine affect the COVID-19 dynamics in Canada: the simulation study Dmytro Chumachenko
Changing work arrangements and policy misalignment: The case of coworking businesses during the COVID-19 crises Meghan Crouch, Ellen MacEachen, Elena Neiterman, and Jen Whitson
Effectiveness of anti-malarial chemoprophylaxis in preventing malaria infection among deployed military personnel: A systematic review and narrative synthesis  Udani De Silva, Shivani Karanwal, Niall Anderson
Depressive symptom trajectories among parents of children with a physical illness Gurkiran K. Dhuga, Scott T. Leatherdale, Jennifer Yessis, Mark A. Ferro
Trajectories of psychopathology and mental health service use among youth with physical illness Megan Dol, Chris Perlman, Dillon Browne, Mark Ferro
The perceptions about mental health amongst medical students and instructors in Libya: A qualitative study Nada El-abbar, Jennifer Yessis, Elena Neiterman, Hannah Neufeld, Taleb El-Roey, Lujain Elshakei
Examining the relationship and trajectories of parent and child mental illness in children with chronic psychical illness Melissa Elgie, Dillon T. Browne, Jennifer Yessis, Mark A. Ferro
The Association between Social Isolation, Functional Social Support, and Memory in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Moderated Mediation Analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging Nicole Endresz, Colleen Maxwell, Suzanne Tyas, Mark Oremus
Dementia Dastan: Exploring the Experiences of People Living with Dementia and their Care Partners in the Canadian South Asian Community Navjot Gill and George Heckman
Examining the Association between Functional Social Support, Marital Status, and Memory: Protocol for a Mixed Methods Study Paniz Haghighi, Suzanne L. Tyas, Leilei Zeng, and Mark Oremus
LIVING the Dementia Journey for Young Adults (E-Learning Course) Courtney Hicks, Dana Zummach, Christine Pellegrino, Carrie McAiney, Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP), Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
Evaluating construct validity of a multi-dimensional measure of Food Literacy (FLit) among post-secondary students Martin Holmes, Mona Qutub, Sanaa Hussain, Elsie Azevedo Perry, Heather Thomas, Lauren Kennedy, Ruby Samra, Shannon Edmonstone, Lucy Valleau, Edward A. Frongillo, Heather H. Keller, Helen A. Vidgen, Sharon I. Kirkpatrick
The social life of data: A study of routine health data from conception to application in Western Province, Zambia Na-Mee Lee
Do depressive symptoms mediate the association between perceived social support and executive function? A moderated mediation analysis in the CLSA Laura Lupoi, Mark Oremus, Colleen J. Maxwell, Suzanne L. Tyas
Is diet quality among adults in Canada changing over time? Alyssa Milano, Kevin Dodd, Michael Wallace, Joel Dubin, David Hammond, Sharon Kirkpatrick
The Association between Religious Participation, Depression and Memory in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Moderated Mediation Analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging Bonita Nath, Mark Oremus, Yeying Zhu, Colleen Maxwell, Charity Oga-Omenka
Examining youth experiences of food insecurity in Canada in 2020 to support the implementation of targeted solutions Alexandra Pepetone, Edward A. Frongillo, Kevin W. Dodd, Michael P. Wallace, Lana Vanderlee, Joel A. Dubin, Warren Dodd, David Hammond, Sharon I. Kirkpatrick
Using data to characterize missing incidents involving persons living with dementia Hector Perez, Christine Daum, Lili Liu, Antonio Miguel-Cruz
Does early-life adversity leave a lasting impression on the hippocampus? Cuong T. Phan, Saeideh D. Dowlatabadi, John G. Mielke
Beyond the Physical: A Qualitative Study on the State of Mental Health Services for Medically Ill Patients in Ontario Emma Scott, Matthew Kelsey, Dr. Susan Abbey
Health promotion in the workplace during COVID-19: A scoping review  Tasha Shields, Robert Larsson, and Phil Bigelow
Mobile Public Health: The use of an application to predict stress in a population Pedro Elkind Velmovitsky, Matheus Lotto, Paulo Alencar, Scott Leatherdale, Donald Cowan, Plinio Pelegrini Morita
The association between alcohol consumption and occurrence of sexual assault in Canadian university students: An exploratory study Michelle Vuong, Sanewal Singh
A Pilot Study on Evaluating Relationship Between Steps and Motion in A Smart Home Environment Kang Wang, Shi Cao, Plinio Morita
Feature Engineering to Improve Human Activity Recognition Performance in Ambient Assisted Living Kang Wang, Himalaya Sharma, Shi Cao, Plinio Morita

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Thank you to our Peer Review Committee:

  • Dr. Moses Tetui for acting as senior peer reviewer and advisor
  • Joy Hutchinson for coordinating the peer-review process
  • Megan Dol with Joy Hutchinson, for providing a peer reviewer consensus workshop

Thank you to our generous peer reviewers:

  • Meagan Bacciaglia
  • Danica Bui
  • Meghan Crouch
  • Kimberly D'Mello
  • Hoda Herati
  • Karen Hock
  • Antolea Ilic
  • Dane Mauer-Vakil
  • Lauren McLennan
  • Alyssa Milano
  • Amanda Nova
  • Grace Okusanya
  • Laura Peach
  • Emily Rutter
  • Carrie Shorey
  • Eden Solomon

Thank you to our Conference Faculty Advisory Committee, Dr. Williams, Dr. Morita, and Dr. Kirkpatrick.

Thank you to Dr. Yessis and Ashley King for assistance with the Careers Panel.

Thank you to the School of Public Health Sciences, the Graduate Studies Endowment Fund, and the SPHS Graduate Students' Association for their generous support of this event.

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