Dean's Corner

July to September 2016

By the time you read this report, the new academic year is already in full swing. The 44 MPH, 18 MSc and 7 PhD students who just joined us will have by now been well entrenched in their courses and research. A flurry of events took place in September­­—Orientation and Welcome Back BBQ, CASCH (the student-run Campus Alberta Student Conference on Health, held this year in Calgary) and Reunion Weekend. I invite you to view the photos in the albums below.


Distinguished alumni celebrated

On the evening of September 23, nearly 60 alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered at the Zinc Restaurant at the Art Gallery for our annual reunion event. This year the participants wore masks, which not only created a festive (and mysterious) ambience, but also allowed the dean a ready excuse for not remembering the names of the faces behind the masks. 

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the first Alumni Anniversary Award, created in this 10th anniversary year, to Ken Fyke (MHSA ’71) for his lifetime achievements and contributions to public health. Ken served as deputy minister of health in two provinces (Saskatchewan and British Columbia), CEO of the amalgamated hospital and later health region of Greater Victoria, commissioner of two royal commissions on health care in B.C. and Saskatchewan, and the first board chair of the Canadian Blood Services, among many other senior positions in health care. He received the Order of Canada in 2004. We are indeed honoured to claim him as one of our very own. Ken also gave a talk to students and faculty earlier in the day and inspired and challenged them to “be committed, be relevant and be successful.”


Executive program launched

Our Fellowship in Health System Improvement (FHSI) program kicked off at the Banff Centre over the weekend of September 16-18. The brainchild of professor emeritus and program director Don Philippon, FHSI attracted 20 senior health system leaders from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Roy Romanow, former Saskatchewan premier and commissioner on the Future of Health Care in Canada, delivered the keynote address on values in the Canadian health system. Carl Amrhein, deputy minister of health in Alberta, spoke on the change agenda in Alberta. The participants are assigned into four small groups for projects and assignments, guided by mentors Don Philippon, Chris Eagle, Aslam Bhatti, Dev Menon, Stephanie Montesanti and Tania Stafinsky. FHSI will be held over six weekends, four of which are in Banff and two in Edmonton.

Initial feedback from the participants is highly positive. We thank Erin Hamilton, continuing education associate, for her able coordination of this complex undertaking.

Food safety program admits first student

Ensuring food safety is an important task of public health, and it requires special expertise in every step along a complex chain of processes and players “from farm to table.” Our MPH in food safety program has been approved and has now admitted its first student. The interdisciplinary training is intended to develop a strong skill set in the public health aspects of food safety, including food-borne disease surveillance, microbiology, toxicology, risk assessment, risk management and other subjects.

This is the first such program in Canada, and there are very few in existence across North America. We thank Byeonghwa Jeon for designing the program with his colleagues in environmental health, and Felicity Hey for shepherding the proposal through the approval process.

Administrative changes

On September 1, Kim Raine took over from Tania Bubela as associate dean (research). We thank Tania for her dedication and leadership in this role during the past two years and welcome Kim to the senior leadership team of the School. Linda Carroll became associate dean (education) on July 1, a role that incorporates her previous position of director of graduate education.

In order to strengthen research within the School, especially in providing assistance to junior faculty in the increasingly competitive and difficult funding environment, Karyn Gibbons, school administrator, will add to her portfolio and provide support to the associate dean (research). Karyn is no stranger to research, as she is a graduate of our MPH program and had, in fact, previously worked as Kim’s research coordinator.

Updates on faculty renewal

We welcome Michael Paulden to our assistant professor ranks. Mike is a health economist who just defended his PhD thesis at the University of Alberta in June this year. Originally from England, Michael received his BA in economics from Cambridge, and an MSc in health economics from the University of York [in Yorkshire, not to be confused with the one in Toronto]. He brought with him extensive research experience as research fellow in economic evaluation and health technology assessment at the Centre for Health Economics at York and at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. Since 2013, he has been senior research associate working with Chris McCabe (in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry) who is cross-appointed in the School of Public Health.

Starting in January 2017 as assistant professor will be Simon Otto, who is currently veterinary epidemiologist in the Animal Health Branch of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, a position he has held since 2010. He received the DVM degree from the University of Saskatchewan and the PhD in epidemiology from the University of Guelph.

Simon is no stranger to us in the School. He has been an adjunct professor since 2013, has co-taught the One Health course and also hosted MPH practicum students. He is a founding member of the Alberta One Health Network.

His appointment is timely as we launch our MPH in food safety program. Simon's research interests are in antimicrobial resistance in foodborne pathogens, surveillance and risk assessment.

Faculty and student honours

Candace Nykiforuk was among this year’s new cohort of emerging academic leaders who have been inducted to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada. This is a major recognition of her outstanding research record.

MPH student Cerina Lee was selected head of delegation of the Youth Diplomats of Canada, and will be attending the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in October.

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



Kue Young, Dean