Joy Hutchinson, a Public Health and Health Systems doctoral student, has been awarded a prestigious 2021 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. The award is designed to strengthen Canada's ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. Vanier scholars demonstrate a high standard of academic excellence, research potential and leadership.
“I am honoured to have been selected as a recipient of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship," Hutchinson said. "I hope to contribute meaningfully throughout my career to the public health and nutrition research communities.”
Hutchinson’s doctoral research, "Advancing novel methods for characterizing dietary patterns and their relationships with markers of inequity in Canada,” will lead to a greater understanding of the relationship between dietary patterns and markers of inequity and, ultimately, inform policy with data-backed research that can improve the lives of Canadians.
Her approach to looking at enormous datasets has the potential to identify relationships that traditional methods of data analysis may not uncover. It will use machine learning, or more specifically, deep learning, where artificial networks have the ability to learn from vast amounts of data.
Growing up, Hutchinson discovered cooking as a form of stress relief. As she grew older, her interest in food evolved into a fascination with nutrition and set her on an educational course to becoming a registered dietitian. Currently, is an executive member of the Dietitians of Canada Toronto Networking Committee, planning events for dietitians to meet, learn from each other and discuss relevant topics.
Supporting young people has given Hutchinson mentorship opportunities that she has found particularly meaningful. Over the past year, she helped undergraduate students, offering guidance and encouragement as they worked at continuing their studies and research projects while also facing the many challenges presented by the pandemic.
Hutchinson has also devoted some of her personal time volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Toronto. As part of the Go Girls! program, she helped girls aged 12-14 build a positive self-image by focusing on physical activity, balanced eating and self-esteem.
As a Vanier Scholar, Hutchinson will receive $50,000 per year for three years during her doctoral studies.