Faculty and Staff


Stephanie Montesanti, PhD, MA, BA (honours)

Assistant Professor

Public Health, School of

About Me

I am a health services and policy researcher within the field of population and public health.

I have a PhD in Health Policy and a Graduate Diploma Certificate in Health Services and Policy Research from McMaster University, and a Master's degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Toronto. I completed an Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. 

I have broad health sector experience in both Ontario and Alberta. In Ontario, I worked with the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC) on their Information Management Strategy to support optimal patient care in Ontario Community Health Centres and Community Engagement Initiatives, with Public Health Ontario as a senior research associate to examine public engagement activity in Public Health Units, and the McMaster Health Forum as the Co-Lead on Evidence, Synthesis and Evaluation. I also have research partnerships with the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority and the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation Community Wellness Department relating to Indigenous-led Knowledge Translation Strategies on non-communicable diseases. 

In Alberta, I have been working with the Primary Health Care Integration Network (PHCIN) at Alberta Health Services to engage primary care providers, the public and the research community to identify research priorities and support evidence-informed decision making in primary health care through rapid reviews. I collaborate with the Alberta Primary Health Care Research Network (APHCRN) and IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health (http://imaginecitizens.ca/) to support citizen and community engagement initiatives in health system co-design. I collaborate with several Indigenous communities and organizations from Treaty 6, 7 and 8 on health and mental health research.

My primary areas of inquiry include Indigenous health policy, primary health care, community engagement and knowledge sharing and exchange. I have led and been involved in various quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods projects investigating factors related to well-being and mental health among Indigenous adults and youth living on-and off-reserve. I was the Guest Editor for a thematic series in BMC Women's Health on structural and interpersonal violence in the lives of women. More recently, I Co-Chair the Indigenous Health Strategy in the School of Public Health. 

Degrees and Fellowships

PhD (Health Policy), McMaster University, 2013
MA (Medical Anthropology), University of Toronto, 2008
BA (honours), University of Toronto, 2006
Diploma Certificate in Health Services and Policy Research, 2012
Post-doctoral fellowship, University of Calgary, 2015


My research expertise include policy intervention and analysis; the design and evaluation of public and community engagement processes to inform health services planning and health system decision making; the determinants of health policy change; and knowledge translation. My PhD research contributed knowledge on the engagement methods used with vulnerable and excluded populations (refugees and newcomer mothers, inner-city youth, and urban Indigenous populations) in health policy development. 

My current funded research projects include investigating well-being and mental health among Indigenous youth in Alberta through arts-based interventions to promote mental health and wellbeing (Co-PI, funded by CIHR and PolicyWise); examining the health effects from Alberta wildfires to Indigenous peoples and communities in Wood Buffalo (NPA, funded by CIHR); examining pregnancy risk factors during the evacuation of the Fort McMurray wildfire (Co-I, CIHR funded study); studying primary care practice transformation and reform in Canada (PI, funded by AHS); Experience-Based Co-Design pilot for health system redesign in Alberta (PI in partnership with IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health); and strengthening refugee primary care (Co-PI, MSI Foundation). 

In addition to these projects, I am involved in a number of research activities for a global network to promote equitable and inclusive policy and practice in non-communicable diseases with vulnerable and at-risk populations. 

Key words

health policy intervention and analysis
patient, public and community engagement
primary health care delivery for vulnerable populations
knowledge exchange and research use in health policy decisions
Indigenous health
women's health promotion

Current Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows:

Farah N. Mawani, CIHR Health System Impact Fellow
James Quon, PhD student 
Tara Azimi, PhD student
Lauren Kennedy, MSc (Health Policy Research) 


Instructor, Foundations of Health Promotion, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS), Mwanza, Tanzania 

Academic Mentor, Health System Improvement Fellowship, School of Public Health

Instructor, SPH530: This is Public Health

Instructor, SPH500: Introduction to Health Policy and Management