Dean's Corner

April to June 2014

As the academic year came to a close, several faculty members and students embarked on a new venture for the School. Beginning on June 23, the School hosted 35 medical students from Al Jouf University in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with UAlberta International and the Faculty of Medical Rehabilitation. Over a period of three weeks, we introduced these students to the basic concepts and tools of public health and some of the applications through lectures and labs. In addition to the financial benefits, which will go toward the establishment of School scholarships, this type of activity broadens our global reach and helps spread the message of public health among future health care professionals. 

I wish to extend thanks to all participating faculty (Jeremy Beach, Linda Carroll, Faith Davis, Dean Eurich, Patrick Hanington, Gian Jhangri, Lory Laing, Finlay McAlister, Dev Menon, Kimberley Simmonds, Kate Toogood and Don Voaklander) and our three teaching assistants (Ali Assi, Emily Hastings and Shariar Rozen).

Networking…

The School is part of a group called Campus Alberta Health Outcomes and Public Health (HOPH), which includes the three universities (Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge) and Alberta Health Services. It awards small meeting grants and organizes annual meetings to promote networking across campuses. This year’s meeting was held on May 5 in Calgary, with over 100 participants. Next year’s meeting will likely be in Edmonton and the School, together with FOMD, will be the host.

Our External Advisory Council, which was reconstituted this year with new members joining some returning ones, met on June 11 and 12. I invite you to read the biographical sketches of the members. EAC members provide advice to the dean and act as advocates and ambassadors of the School. They bring much expertise to the Council and will play a critical role as the School continues to develop.

The Canadian Public Health Association annual conference was held in Toronto in the last week of May. I am extremely proud to report that of eight students from across Canada who received awards, three were from the School! Congratulations to Megan Lefebvre for her Population and Public Health Student Award, and Stephanie Kowal and Keren Tang for their Knowledge Translation Graduate Student Awards. The School also hosted a reception on May 28 for approximately 35 faculty members, students, alumni and guests, which was a wonderful opportunity to unwind and meet and greet colleagues old and new.

Reconnecting…

I have to admit that I was guilty of not spending much time at the CPHA conference itself—however, I was kept busy by the Office of Advancement. The regional director for Toronto took me all over town to meet several alumni, who ranged from a MHSA graduate from the 1980s to the first health promotion MSc graduate from 2004. It was very useful for me to learn about the career paths of these individuals. They were very pleased to be approached by their alma mater and eager to be reconnected. I hope to bring them back to campus in the future, perhaps to speak to our students, as I am sure their wide range of experience and accomplishments would be inspiring. In the coming year, I intend to devote more efforts to alumni relations and advancement activities.

Celebrating…

I have already mentioned the three outstanding students recognized by CPHA, but it should come as no surprise that there are many more accolades to deliver. 
  • Kai Wong, a PhD epidemiology student of Yutaka Yasui and Faith Davis, was awarded the Banting and Best Canada Graduate Scholarship by CIHR. 
  • My incoming postdoctoral fellow Priscilla Ferrazzi received the CIHR Fellowship under the priority announcement of Aboriginal health research. 
  • Derek Clark, MPH student in health policy and management, was one of six students from across Canada to receive the Robert Wood Johnson Award at the June annual meeting of the Canadian College of Health Leaders. 
  • Gian Jhangri received one of the highest teaching awards in the university – the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.
  • The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) honoured Dev Menon, Don Juzwishin and Leigh-Ann Taylor with the 25th Anniversary Medal, in recognition of their role in pioneering the use of health technology assessment in Canada.
  • Kim Raine delivered the 2014 Ryley-Jeffs Memorial Lecture at the annual Dietitians of Canada conference, which recognizes a member who exemplifies the ideals of dedication to the profession and has a proven ability to chart new directions in the field of dietetics.
  • Nick Ashbolt’s Translational Health Chair in Water by Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions was formally announced in April.
Please see the complete list of recent student awards. Congratulations to all.

Funding …

Our faculty members continue to be successful in external research funding, sustaining the School’s research-intensive record. Kim Raine and Candace Nykiforuk were awarded $2.4 million in funding from the Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention (CLASP) program of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The project, known as POWER-UP!—Policy Opportunity Windows: Enhancing Research Uptake in Practice—involves collaboration between researchers, practitioners and policy-makers in Alberta, Québec and Northwest Territories.

Paul Veugelers, Arto Ohinmaa, Kate Storey, Katerina Maximova and others received a $3-million Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities (CRIO) grant from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions. The project is titled Return on Investments in Innovative Interventions that Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living among Children.

Congratulating…

Two long-time faculty members, Ken Zakariasen and Don Schopflocher, retired from the University in June. We wish them well in the next phase of their productive lives.

The following faculty members were promoted in the most recent FEC deliberations:

  • Cindy Jardine – promoted to full professor
  • Irina Dinu – granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor
  • Zubia Mumtaz - granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor
At the Spring Convocation on June 6, 39 MPH, 10 MSc and four PhD students from the School crossed the stage. Congratulations to them all as they move into the next phase of life, whether furthering their education, joining the workforce or taking a much needed break. 

Progressing…

The strategic planning process has now been completed with a final plan approved by Faculty Council in May. The senior management team will now develop specific actions to implement the plan. 

Faculty Council has completed the latest revision of our FEC guidelines, which replaces the version that was approved in December 2013. It is now being reviewed by the Provost’s Office. 

Our work does not really grind to a halt in the summer, although it may appear that way to the casual observer. Research by faculty and students will continue, and some will start planning for courses in the fall term. I wish all of you an enjoyable summer, and hope you are able to take advantage of the nice weather we are sure to expect.

Kue Young, Dean