Being a Public Scholar means contributing to the public good through truly engaged scholarship that is responsive and accountable to community needs. It also encompasses interdisciplinary and applied research that extends beyond traditional academic boundaries through creative platforms.
Population-level monitoring indicates that children’s well-being is declining in British Columbia (BC), presenting a significant challenge to public health. Children are experiencing more complex difficulties across multiple developmental domains of their well-being and disparities continue to exist across communities and neighbourhoods. Further research is needed to understand the social and environmental factors underlying these shifts in children’s development and approaches to reverse this trend, including programs and interventions to promote children’s rights and health equity. To this end, a longstanding intersectoral partnership is using place-based strategies to offer early childhood education and care to families in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and surrounding neighbourhoods. This collaborative research aims to understand how intersectoral early childhood education and care makes a difference for children and their families in neighbourhoods facing systemic and social barriers to access. The study will employ a mixed methods research design informed by a participatory social justice approach. Community stakeholders will be engaged as knowledge partners throughout the research process using a participatory and integrated knowledge translation framework.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
I believe being a Public Scholar means contributing to the public good through truly engaged scholarship that is responsive and accountable to community needs. It also encompasses interdisciplinary and applied research that extends beyond traditional academic boundaries through creative platforms.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
The Public Scholars Initiative provides PhD students with a unique network of peers, faculty, and members of the public representing a diversity of disciplines and fields. I think the Public Scholars Initiative re-imagines the PhD by supporting students to engage in dialogue about solving complex societal issues with community partners and develop the skills to become publicly-engaged scholars.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
My PhD work provides a unique learning opportunity to examine the impact of early childhood programs and interventions on children’s well-being using mixed methods. Working with my academic supervisors, pediatricians, early childhood educators, service providers, and families will deepen my knowledge of early childhood development, health research methods, knowledge translation, and how to be responsive and accountable to communities as a researcher.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
I am collaborating with an intersectoral partnership that provides early childhood programs and service in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and surrounding neighbourhoods using place-based strategies for my research. The project will be informed by a participatory social justice approach that will engage community stakeholders as partners in the research process. Linking place-based and community-based participatory research frameworks have been proposed in the field of public health to tackle health inequities through the integration of evidence, policy, and public engagement.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I became interested in how social determinants during childhood and adolescence shape lifelong health early in my career. After working in the field and completing a Master’s degree, I decided to pursue a PhD in Population and Public Health to continue my training with the goal of becoming an independent researcher. My hope is to promote children’s well-being by focusing on their strengths and resilience despite adversity.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
It was a clear choice for me to apply to UBC. The School of Population and Public Health and the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC offer an ideal training environment for me to pursue population health research in collaboration with local communities that has the potential to impact equity in human development, child and youth health.