School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Katherine Launier

Master of Public Health
(Class of 2015)

Katherine Launier


From a Queen’s MPH to Aboriginal and Global Health Research 

by Brenda Melles, April 2015

Fresh from finishing her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at Queen’s University, Katherine Launier has returned to her roots in western Canada. A month after completing her MPH, she landed a job with the Aboriginal and Global Health Research Group at the University of Alberta and moved back to her home province.

A native of Whitecourt, Alberta, Katherine’s first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Immunology and Infection at the University of Alberta. A volunteer opportunity with a smoking cessation project sparked her interest in public health. She knew some friends at Queen’s, and decided to move cross country to Kingston.

Her experience in the Queen’s MPH was positive. “All the instructors seemed really engaged in the courses they were teaching,” she says, “There’s a nice mix of courses – some quantitative, some applied, and some theory.” The small class size was also appealing. “Everyone seemed to be very connected, and got along well. We did lots of activities together.”  

For Katherine, the highlight of the Queen’s MPH program was her practicum, which she describes as “exciting and fascinating.” Hosted by Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health, Katherine’s project was to design and conduct a program evaluation of a social determinants of health resource tool. The tool helps people living on low incomes get access to important services – things like food and shelter resources, health care, and income supplements. Using focus groups, key informant interviews and surveys, Katherine’s evaluation took what she learned in her MPH course work, and put it into practice.

The skills she learned in her placement and course work served her well in her job search. “In my interviews, people were excited to hear that I knew how to design a program evaluation, I knew why social determinants of health are important, and I’ve used SAS and NVivo.”

Her current work with the Aboriginal and Global Health Research Group allows her to keep applying and deepening the public health competencies she gained in her MPH. Her current work tasks include both quantitative and qualitative research, as well as designing health promotion programs for adolescent, aboriginal and new Canadians.

As for the future, Katherine’s goal is to keep learning and applying her public health skills and knowledge. “As long as I can feel like my degree is helping me and getting me somewhere – which so far it has – that will be good.”