Department of Public Health Sciences

Department of

Public Health Sciences


Public Health Sciences

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PhD in Epidemiology student makes the most of Mitacs Global Link opportunity

Afshin Vafaei’s (PhD in epidemiology candidate) research question is a seemingly simple one:  Are ‘levels of social cohesion and the quality of interpersonal relationships’  determinants of injury.  Afshin is examining the relationship between two vulnerable populations: adolescents and older adults.

While completing his PhD research, under the supervision of Drs. Beatriz Alvarado and Will Pickett, Afshin has always believed that “despite the universality of epidemiological methods and analytic approaches, the interpretation of impacts of socially constructed exposures can be very complex and vary across different cultures”. When Dr. Alvarado informed Afshin of the Mitacs Globallink opportunity he jumped at the chance to travel to Brazil to enhance his understanding of the aging processes from an international perspective.

The Mitacs Globalink Research Award provides the opportunity for faculty at Canadian universities to strengthen existing international research collaborations and connect with colleagues around the world through the mobility of senior undergraduate and graduate students.  Student recipients of the Globallink Research Award will develop research skills, cultural fluency and professional network, becoming part of Canada’s generation of global innovators.

Under the guidance of  Dr. Guerra, a Professor in the Department of Physiotherapy at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) Natal, Brazil, Afshin was able to learn how international researchers look at the aging-related mobility issues. The comments Afshin received from the UFRN faculty were valuable and will be used in the discussion section of his dissertation. During his visit Afshin was also invited to teach a crash course on health research methodology. During his stay in Brazil, Afshin also took part in the 7th Congress of Latin American and Caribbean Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology in Belem.