Dean's Corner

January to March 2017

We have now entered 2017, our “year of reckoning.” This year we shall undergo re-accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health, which shall visit the School in October. More immediate are UAlberta’s own quality assurance reviews taking place in April: the President’s Visiting Committee and the Graduate Program Review, the latter mandated by the province’s Campus Alberta Quality Council. All three reviews require extensive self-studies which somewhat overlap but, nevertheless, require substantial investment in time and effort. Felicity Hey has been tasked to coordinate these self-studies. Such exercises are welcome in that they enable us to take stock of our situation, identify our strengths and weaknesses, and look forward to the future.

In the public eye

We continue to promote the School to the general public. On March 9 we organized another This is Public Health public lecture, featuring Don Voaklander, director of our Injury Prevention Centre (IPC), who spoke on Old MacDonald had a farm injury. There were about 95 attendees in person and online. Farm injuries are important causes of mortality, morbidity and disability in our province. Excellent work on surveillance and prevention by IPC staff has had important impact, including legislative changes. Details and a link to the presentation are available on this website. You may also view photos in our Flickr album below.

On the same day, Elaine Hyshka organized and moderated a public panel discussion on a family-centered approach to substance use in Alberta. Bereaved parents and family members are at the forefront in the public discourse on the urgent public health issue of opioid misuse and overdose deaths. This forum was organized in partnership with mumsDU and Moms Stop the Harm and brought together families, front line health-care providers, policy-makers, researchers and other stakeholders. By sharing their personal stories, family members challenge the social stigma of illicit drug use and addiction, and contribute a much needed family-based approach to prevention and intervention. The presentation is available to view online and photos of the event may be viewed in our Flickr album below.


Research excellence recognized

We were once again reminded that the School is home to highly productive wet labs, when three Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery grants were awarded to Nicholas Ashbolt ($41,000), Norman Neumann ($26,000) and Stephanie Yanow ($26,000). 

Tania Bubela received $300,000 from Alberta Innovates for her Precision Health Initiative Development Grant. Dr. Bubela also served on the steering committee of the expert panel workshop on the Opportunities and Challenges for Regenerative Medicine in Canada, organized by the Council of Canadian Academies.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Institute of Health Services and Policy Research launched the Training Modernization Start-Up Grant program for postdoctoral fellowships that are embedded in health ministries, regional health authorities and other agencies. Under the leadership of Jeff Johnson, the School was one of three universities in western Canada and 12 across the country that received the $110,000 grants. We received additional funding by partnering with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research in Yellowknife and offering field experience to trainees in northern Aboriginal communities and organizations. More funding will follow as it is now recognized that traditional academically focused postdoctoral and doctoral training does not fully equip trainees for employment opportunities outside academe.

Faculty and student honoured

Elaine Hyshka will receive the Community Scholar Award from the University of Alberta at a ceremony at City Hall on May 15.

The Community Connections Awards honour those whose commitment to community engagement embodies the spirit of the U of A’s promise of “uplifting the whole people,” and recognize those who have had a positive impact on communities near and far, as well as on the university.

Louis Francescutti was honoured by the Governor General of Canada with the Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division). As honorary colonel of 1 Field Ambulance, Dr. Francescutti has greatly supported his unit and the Canadian Armed Forces. During two influential appointments as president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (2011-2013) and president of the Canadian Medical Association (2013-2014), he promoted the Forces and solicited military input into national initiatives.

Two of our MPH students, Damon Monroe and Cerina Lee, were named by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation in its annual “Top 30 Under 30” magazine. ACGC is a coalition of volunteer organizations that work towards local and global sustainable human development. The Top 30 Under 30 magazine recognizes Alberta’s young adults who are making an impact on the global community. 

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research announced the 2017 Graduate Student Teaching Awards. Among the recipients is one of our PhD students, Erin Faught.

A full list of recipients of various scholarships and student awards is available for viewing.

Faculty recruitment continues

We have now concluded the search for the global health faculty position and an announcement will be made soon. We have begun the search for a nominee for the Canada Research Chair (tier 2) in Northern Aboriginal Health Systems and will soon start the search for an assistant professor in biostatistics. Over the past two years, we have recruited six new faculty members (Stephanie Yanow, Stephanie Montesanti, Elaine Hyshka, Shelby Yamamoto, Mike Paulden, and Simon Otto), an infusion of much needed new blood.

Another record year for applications

At the close of applications for admission to the 2017 fall term, we have received some 980 applications to all degree programs and specializations. After two years of using the SOPHAS online application system administered by the Washington-based Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, of which we are a member, we switched over to the new Graduate Studies Management Solution (GSMS) developed by our Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Due to its newness, we experienced substantial technical glitches. Thanks to the efforts of Associate Dean (Education) Jeff Johnson, Magda Grzeszczuk and Shona Williams, and the patience of faculty members involved in the selection process, we managed to survive the deluge of applications. I am confident that the students we have selected through this process will be among the best ever.

Fun time at Curlapalooza

About 50 faculty, staff students and alumni once again came out to enjoy this annual tradition of the School. Curlapalooza is one of the few activities where all members of the School community, including their families, get together socially. It is also a great opportunity to introduce our international students to the very Canadian pastime and sport of curling. I invite you to view photos of the event in our Flickr album.

And, back to work …

Spring is now officially here, but we must get back to work on those self-studies!


Kue Young, Dean