Kathy Belton, PhD '16

Associate Director

Injury Prevention Centre, School of Public Health, University of Alberta

When Kathy Belton was 18 years old, her life was forever changed by injury. One moment she was an assistant manager at a bank, the next, she was dependent on someone else for her well-being for almost three years.

"I was not only able to see and experience the consequences my injury had on me, but I was also able to see the impact it had on my family, friends and community," explains Belton, associate director of the Injury Prevention Centre (IPC). "Lives can change in a single moment. If we can stall or prevent injury from happening, our society would be better off."

In 1985 Belton began her academic journey. She had the ultimate goal of helping people with acquired disabilities adjust to life and changes after disability and promised herself she wouldn't stop until she earned her doctor of philosophy degree (PhD). Fast forward 31 years and she has earned her bachelor of arts (BA), master of education, and most recently, her PhD in epidemiology all from the University of Alberta.

"I chose public health because that's where my passion lies," says Belton. "I wanted to further explore the impact that injury has on those directly impacted by injury, our economy and our health system. Injury has a ripple effect. The work IPC is doing is important because we don't just have to treat illness and injury; we can do something to prevent it."

In 2013, Belton was awarded the national Leadership Award from the Canadian Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Conference. She was recognized for her, then, almost 30 years of work in injury prevention advocacy, programming and research, which she began when she joined the Head and Spinal Cord Injury project as an undergraduate student while completing her BA.

"Injuries don't discriminate. They know no boundaries," says Belton. "Injury prevention is a health care issue and a public health issue that impacts everyone. Ultimately, society pays the price."

(Last updated November 2016)