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DLSPH Welcomes New Faculty Members in 2022

July 5/2022

This message was sent to all faculty members, staff and students by Dean Brown on June 15, 2022:

Dear Faculty and Staff Members,

Our School is growing! I am very pleased to share the appointments of faculty members Brice Batomen, Billie-Jo Hardy, Alex Hoagland, Zahra Shakeri, Robert Steiner and Kazumi Tsuchiya. As well, it’s my pleasure to announce that Prof. Michael Atkinson has been appointed Graduate Coordinator for the Public Health Sciences for a year-long term.

Brice Batomen will become an assistant professor of Epidemiology as of July 1, 2022. Brice completed his PhD in epidemiology at McGill University and then a postdoctoral fellowship in our Division of Epidemiology, where he studied injury prevention with a focus on road safety measures in Quebec.

“Given the number of injuries and deaths from traffic accidents we observe globally, I’ve always found this topic to be understudied, even neglected, epidemiology area,” says Brice. “I look forward to contributing to improving road safety in Canada, in my home country of Cameroon and around the world.”

Billie-Jo Hardy came to DLSPH in January as an assistant professor focussing on Indigenous spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. She received her PhD from the Institute of Medical Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine in 2011, and spent several years advising on research ethics in global health innovation towards addressing health inequities. An ally to Indigenous communities, Billie-Jo comes to DLSPH from Toronto’s Well Living House, where she partners with Prof. Janet Smylie on evaluating the efficacy of Indigenous cultural safety training programs.

“Having grown up in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, I’m familiar with a lot of the inequities experienced by Indigenous people,” Billie-Jo says. “My interest is really to work with  Indigenous partners, in a good way, to address community-identified priorities and contribute to strength-based Indigenous research programs.”

Alex Hoagland will be joining IHPME on July 1 as an assistant professor of health economics. Alex completed his PhD at Boston University, where he studied the role of information in health care. He is researching how consumers learn about their health risks, how providers value healthcare innovations, and how to structure health systems to reach individuals with chronic health conditions.

“There are so many features of health decision-making where the ‘optimal’ decision is anything but obvious,” says Alex. “Understanding the real-world ways that physicians and patients work together to process information and make treatment decisions can help to improve health across the population, and even across distinct health systems. These are issues that affect health systems globally and I’m excited to work with my colleagues at IHPME to apply this behavioral lens when studying the Canadian healthcare delivery system.”

Zahra Shakeri joined IHPME in June as an assistant professor in the Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research, and Health Services Research programs. Zahra completed her PhD in computer science at the University of Calgary, and comes to us from Harvard Medical School, where she served as a postdoctoral fellow in health informatics and information visualization.

“I always wanted to do research with a lasting impact on human life,” Zahra says. “I chose IHPME and DLSPH because they provide a multidisciplinary environment for me to apply machine learning, AI, and visualization tools to large-scale health data to address challenging and relevant public health and biomedical problems. IHPME is a dream place where I can get support from amazing colleagues, the diverse student body, and other research teams.”

Robert Steiner was appointed assistant professor (teaching stream), Health Advocacy and Journalism in March.

Rob joined DLSPH in 2019 as Director of the Dalla Lana Fellowship in Global Journalism — a program he had launched at the Munk School of Global Affairs a decade earlier, teaching academics and professionals how to shape public discussion through journalism. Rob started his career as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, where he was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and later advised Prime Minister Paul Martin on public health and health care policy. He has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, served as U of T’s Assistant Vice President of Strategic Communications and most recently served as communications director for the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“Communications and advocacy are critical public health tools — we know this better now than ever before,” Steiner says, “But it takes special training to shape an evidence-based public discussion in the face of polarization. DLSPH is already at the forefront of this work and I’m excited to help us keep innovating in this field.”

Kazumi Tsuchiya will join DLSPH July 1 as an assistant professor in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences. Her work has focused on social determinants of racial, ethnic and immigrant minority populations, with a specific interest in understanding how legal/citizenship status contributes to marginalization among immigrants. Kazumi received her PhD from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and completed a NIH-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship in Population Health at the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Population Center.

“Growing up in the US as the only citizen in my family, I saw and experienced various challenges that my parents and sister had to overcome,” says Kazumi. “These experiences, along with the circumstances that have led to inequities among marginalized communities of color, have shaped why I am determined to strive for health and social equity. I am looking forward to working with incredible colleagues at DLSPH.”

Michael Atkinson has been cross-appointed to DLSPH from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, where he recently served as graduate coordinator. A sociologist by training, Michael is a pioneer in the field of physical cultural studies. He is interested in building connections between the two faculties during his year with us.

“I see tremendous connection between kinesiology and public health,” Michael says. “In KPE we study how people can experience movement in pleasurable ways but also people who have been injured, and disenfranchised. How do you work with people who struggle to move, can’t move or don’t want to move in the way the biomedical model advises? For me that’s a public health issue.”

Please join me in congratulating these talented, inspiring faculty members in their new roles at DLSPH.