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Five DLSPH PhD students selected as inaugural Connaught Fellows

September 22/2022

By Bonnie O’Sullivan

One-third of those named to the Connaught PhDs for Public Impact Fellowship Program are from DLSPH.

The five students – Tenzin Butsang, Rose Schmidt, Jane Zhao, Madison Giles and Anam Shahil Feroz – share a passion for bridging academia with practical impact. From September 2022 to August 2023, the students will participate in unique opportunities to disseminate their research with audiences outside of traditional academia, such as the general public and government. The fellowship will help connect gaps between research and practice; and it will prepare the participants for a variety of careers in which they can make a lasting impact. 

The inaugural cohort of Connaught Fellows was announced on September 21, 2022. Over the next year, the students will receive mentorship, specialized training and networking opportunities. Each student is also awarded $10,000 to be used as a top-up to their stipend and $2,500 toward professional development and project expenses. 

“I’m really looking forward to the training and mentorship opportunities that come with the Connaught Fellowship,” says Giles whose research is titled The Sexual Subjectivity of Youth with Physical Disabilities: An Arts-Based Study in Ontario, Canada. “We had our orientation and there was a woman who came to speak who had a podcast. Hearing about her experiences and using these more creative outputs to share research knowledge, that’s what I’m really excited about.”

Kevin Chavez Laxamana, the Programming Coordinator at the Centre for Graduate Professional Development, says it makes sense that such a high number of DLSPH students was selected. “The Dalla Lana School of Public Health is all about people. It’s not surprising that students from public health know how to do public scholarship and to do it for the greater good.” 

DLSPH follows the Faculty of Arts and Science (with seven fellows) for the greatest number of students selected.

Congratulations to all 2022-2023 Connaught PhDs for Public Impact Fellows!

Read on to learn more about our five Connaught fellows. 

What interested you in applying for the fellowship?

Tenzin Butsang, “Blood Runs Thick and Long and For Ever”: Stories on Parenthood and Incarceration

“In terms of academia and even public health research, often we’re seeing this affirmation of a hierarchy of knowledge and knowledge dissemination. As I’m working toward my PhD, I’m confronted with the publications, academic journals and the conferences that are fixtures of academia, and I constantly question the relevant impact of my work. With this opportunity, we’re being encouraged to break from traditional forms of knowledge mobilization and to reimagine community collaboration and research.”

What tools and strategies do you look forward to using during your fellowship to promote your project?

An illustrated comic panel in which Zhao explains the field of graphic medicine.

Jane Zhao will use comics, such as this example created by Zhao, to translate knowledge from academic research for public consumption.

Jane Zhao, Healthcare Organizations as Community “Anchors”: A Qualitative Study of Community Perceptions

“I’m interested in looking at knowledge translation through the lens of comics! There’s a bold, burgeoning field of graphic medicine, which is the use of comics to tell stories around illness, death and dying, caregiving experiences and navigating the health care system. Within that, I’ve started thinking about, can we use comics to translate or communicate the research studies that we all write and spend dozens of hours on and publish? Is there a different way that we could present our information?”

Madison Giles, The Sexual Subjectivity of Youth with Physical Disabilities: An Arts-Based Study in Ontario, Canada

A colourful illustration created by one youth participant who answered questions regarding Madison Gile's research.

An example of a body map created by a participant in Madison Gile’s research project.

“I partnered with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital to ask disabled youth questions about their sexuality. … I’m using a method called body mapping where I ask youth to outline their bodies or something more abstract and symbolic and then they fill in that body map based on different questions I asked them about their sexuality. We hope to have an art gallery that showcases the body maps next summer.”

Why is it important for public health professionals to communicate with a broader audience?

Anam Shahil Feroz, Feasibility of Implementing a Mobile Phone-Based Telemonitoring Program to Support Pregnant Individuals at High-Risk for Preeclampsia in Karachi, Pakistan

“Reaching, involving and partnering with knowledge users is key to having sustained strategies. Small scale interventions may never get scaled up when there is no buy-in from the government, knowledge users and from the lay public. Having public engagement will help.”

Rose Schmidt, Pregnancy and Opioid Agonist Treatment in Ontario: A Feminist, Mixed-Methods Life-Course Study

Public is right in the name of our department. I think that as public health researchers it is essential to involve the public because our work impacts the public and the public shapes the climate for policymaking.”