Department of Public Health Sciences

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Convocation 2015

Fall Convocation 2015

On November 18, 2015 the Department of Public Health Sciences held a Convocation Reception for recent MSc (Epidemiology) and MSc (Specialization in Biostatistics) graduates. Graduate Coordinator, Kristan Aronson, noted: "We celebrated our students' achievements today at convocation, and we were happy to host a Departmental reception for our amazing students and their supportive families. Several former students are enjoying the challenges of new jobs in their field". 

Our MSc (Epidemiology) graduates were: Randal Boyes, Tasha Hanuschak, Farzana Haq, Eleanor Hung, Jonathan Kwong, Michael Leung, Katherine McKenzie, Olivia Meggetto, Joy Shi
Our MSc (Specialization in Biostatistics) graduates were: Andrew Dabbikeh and Laura Holder 


Providing a voice to vulnerable groups

Providing a voice to vulnerable groups

by Tim Rosillo 

Alyson Mahar has always been interested in equitable health care for all Canadians. After completing her MSc in epidemiology in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology (now Public Health Sciences), Alyson knew that she wanted to continue her training in advanced epidemiologic and health services research methods and apply her new training to ensuring vulnerable Canadians received an equal opportunity for appropriate healthcare. The PhD in epidemiology has given Alyson the opportunity to work with leaders in cancer care evaluation and health services research to develop her ideas into a doctoral thesis.

For Alyson, a huge draw to the PhD in epidemiology program at Queen’s was the relationship that exists between the Department and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Health Services Research Facility at Queen’s. This gave her access to restricted provincial administrative healthcare data and the opportunity to gain valuable experience working with large databases. ICES - Queen’s is a strong part of the Queen’s health services and policy research community.  Working in a small department and being part of a supportive community of faculty, staff and students were other key considerations in her decision.

Alyson is supported by a Fredrick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her thesis research focuses on the impact of a severe psychiatric illness on a patient’s cancer diagnosis, and their subsequent staging, treatment and survival.  She is supervised by Patti Groome (Department of Public Health Sciences) and Paul Kurdyak (Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, Toronto).  Previous studies have shown that people with a severe psychiatric illness have worse cardiovascular and diabetes health outcomes. She and her supervisors hypothesized that patients with a severe psychiatric illness may also be at risk for worse cancer outcomes. There may be a number of reasons for this, including interfering symptoms of the mental illness, and high rates of complex physical health issues, difficulties for the patient in accessing healthcare, and stigma from healthcare providers. The intention of Alyson’s research is to try and identify where interventions to improve the intersection of psychiatric and cancer care could be targeted.

Away from her formal coursework and training, Alyson has made the most of the incredible opportunities available to PhD students in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Queen’s.   She works with Dr. Alice Aiken, Director of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) on an ICES project to study a cohort of Canadian Veterans and military families in Ontario using provincial administrative data. Alyson feels that this opportunity has been a huge asset to her training and development as an epidemiologist. 

Alyson’s ambition after graduation is to gain a faculty position, as a Scientist leading her own research program. Ultimately, she wants to be in a position where she can use her epidemiologic methods training to help inform Canadian health policy and act as an advocate in healthcare for people whose voices are not heard. 


Laura Holder successfully presents her Biostatistics Practicum Report

Laura Holder successfully presents her Biostatistics Practicum Report 

On Monday, September 28, 2015, MSc in Biostatistics candidate Laura Holder successfully defended her Biostatistics Practicum Report to the Department of Public Health Sciences. Laura's practicum report title was multiple imputation in complex survey settings: a comparison of methods through application in the health behaviour in school-aged children survey. She was supervised by Drs. Michael Isaac (PHS) and Will Pickett (PHS), and her examiners were Drs. Will King (PHSand Paul Peng (PHS)Congratulations Laura.


Leah Hamilton successfully defends her MSc thesis ​

Leah Hamilton successfully defends her MSc thesis ​

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, MSc candidate Leah Hamilton successfully defended her MSc thesis to the Department of Public Health Sciences. Leah's thesis title was The Diagnostic Interval of Colorectal Cancer Patients in Ontario by Degree of Rurality. She was supervised by Dr. Patti Groome (PHS), and her examiners were Drs. Kathleen Norman (School of Rehabilitation Therapy), Will Pickett (PHS), Mike Green (PHS), and Harriet Richardson (PHS)Congratulations Leah.


Tasha Hanuschak successfully defends her MSc thesis

Tasha Hanuschak successfully defends her MSc thesis ​

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, MSc candidate Tasha Hanuschak successfully defended her MSc thesis to the Department of Public Health Sciences. Tasha's thesis title was Coronary Angiography and Neurological Intact Survival in Out-of-hospital Cardiac Arrest Patient. She was supervised by Drs. Steven Brooks (MED) and Paul Peng (PHS), and her examiners were Drs. Joan Almost (School of Nursing), Harriet Richardson (PHS), Ana Johnson (PHS), and Patti Groome (PHS)Congratulations Tasha.


Understanding risk-taking behaviour amongst Canadian adolescents

Understanding risk-taking behaviour amongst Canadian adolescents

Having been a Concurrent Education student at Queen’s University, Jonathan Kwong has always been passionate about child health and research involving the school environment. The MSc in Epidemiology program at Queen’s has given him the tools to answer the research questions that are most important to him.

Since beginning his graduate studies in 2013, Jonathan’s research has been focused on risk-taking behaviour among Canadian adolescents. By using a dataset of approximately 30,000 Canadian students, Jonathan wanted to understand how different types of risk behaviour (smoking, drinking, fighting, unhealthy dietary patterns, physical inactivity, etc.) relate to one another. Under the supervision of Drs. Will Pickett (Public Health Sciences) and Don Klinger (Education), Jonathan sought to answer two important questions: 1) are there predictable patterns of risk behaviour that adolescents take part in, and 2) if so, do those different patterns impact the health of Canadian adolescents? He was also keen to understand whether positive social relationships with peers and teachers could protect students who participate in risk behaviour from getting hurt.

Before choosing the MSc in Epidemiology program, Jonathan spoke to a number of graduates of the program and they all had wonderful things to say about the program. Jonathan states that “having now completed my degree, I would say the same things”. He goes on to add that “the program allows students to learn from one another, and the faculty make a real effort to support their students to be successful in the program, and beyond”.  

Jonathan is particularly proud of the work he did with his fellow MSc and MPH students in creating the Public Health Sciences Student Association (PHSSA). Jonathan explains that the PHSSA regularly holds socials and formals, and provides opportunities for professional development, thereby allowing students and faculty to get to know each other in both social and professional settings.

Having now successfully defended his thesis, Jonathan is preparing to start medical school at the University of Toronto. Jonathan is confident that the lessons learned during his MSc will help him critically evaluate medical literature and continue to grow as a research scientist.


Eleanor Hung successfully defends her MSc thesis

Eleanor Hung successfully defends her MSc thesis ​

On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, MSc candidate Eleanor Hung successfully defended her MSc thesis to the Department of Public Health Sciences. Eleanor's thesis title was shift work and cortisol production among female hospital employees. She was supervised by Drs. Kristan Aronson (PHS) and Joan Tranmer (School of Nursing), and her examiners were Drs. Rosemary Wilson (School of Nursing), Will Pickett (PHS), Harriet Richardson (PHS), and Kyra Pyke (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies)Congratulations Eleanor.