Post Doctoral Students & Visiting Professors


James Falconer

SSHRC Post Doctoral Fellow

Academic Website

James Falconer is an empirical sociologist investigating research questions in medical sociology, social epidemiology, social inequalities, and population dynamics. His SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, working with Dr. Lisa Strohschein beginning January 2017, will study the life course determinants of successful aging. His PhD dissertation (McGill, 2016), supervised by Dr. Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, examined the predictive relationship between self-rated health and mortality across social and demographic contexts. His ongoing research seeks to understand the causal pathways by which self-rated health remains such a robust predictor for mortality, and how the predictive power of self-rated health for mortality might allow varying cultural understandings of health to be compared across contexts for the evaluation of health inequalities within and between countries. His research has been funded by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP), the McGill Centre on Population Dynamics, and the Québec Inter-university Centre for Social Statistics (QICSS).


Laura Sikstrom

Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship

Laura Sikstrom is a medical anthropologist and Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta working with Prof. Amy Kaler.  Her current research project investigates how children manage the life-course transition into adolescence while on ART in Malawi. This project will provide important data about the challenges of adherence and disclosure, as well as the realities of living with HIV as a chronic condition. Her research has immediate application in Malawi where improving treatment access and treatment outcomes for children and youth remains a global health priority.

Laura was awarded her PhD from the University of Toronto in 2015 for her dissertation titled: “He is almost a normal child: An ethnography of Malawi’s national pediatric HIV treatment program.” This dissertation was nominated for both the CAGS/UMI and CGS/Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Award by the University of Toronto. Laura’s dissertation investigates Malawi’s first antiretroviral therapy (ART) program for HIV-positive children and analyses the divergences between the policy as written in the global health policy making sphere and the everyday practices of health care workers, theorize their causes, and analyze their impact on HIV-positive children and their families. Laura found that health policy makers’ highly optimistic vision for the benefits of ART contrasted significantly with how caregivers experienced an HIV infected child’s treatment trajectory on ART, which was punctuated by chronic food shortages, treatment disruptions, the death of their parents and seasonal rural-rural migration as their caregivers searched for work. The challenges faced by caregivers in her research highlight the importance of ethnographic, culturally-embedded research as distinct from epidemiological research which focuses on biological markers and outcomes.