Graduate students

Lauren Casey Casey PhD Candidate

During the past several years Lauren has worked professionally for several regional, national and international organizations committed to the reduction of health inequalities in Canadian society and, more particularly, among sex work populations.  In 2003 she held the appointment of Executive Director, PEERS (Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society), and she is currently the Executive Officer for the Canadian National Coalition of Experiential Women, a national Canadian consortium committed to the advancement of equality and human rights for sex workers.  She has created, developed and delivered successful government-funded harm reduction programs, and has been the recipient of several awards for her contribution to the betterment of health and well-being of vulnerable populations in Canadian society.  She is currently working with a team of researchers on a CIHR Health Ethics Catalyst Grant Sex Industry Health, Safety and Human Rights (2010), which will serve as a catalyst to provide a venue for sex workers to engage with policy makers and researchers and voice their experiences and contribute to new forms of knowledge.  She is the successful recipient of a $16,000.00 doctoral scholarship from Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, and she has recently been nominated by the University of Victoria for the prestigious Trudeau doctoral scholarship award.  She has delivered conference presentations nationally and internationally, including a keynote address at the Other Voices Forum held in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  She has written numerous successful government and academic grant proposals, bringing in excess of over $2,000,000.00.  Ms. Casey has also been co-participant in a recent documentary film entitled The Brothel Project (Butler-Parry, 2009), which has been broadcast across Canada on Global Television, and she has been interviewed over 25 times by a variety of radio, print, and television media. She enjoys travelling and has visited a number of places including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Mexico, Jamaica, and throughout the United States and Canada.   Her future plans are to travel to Africa to share her research findings and disseminate a harm reduction program for sex workers that she recently developed in Canada.


Andréa Fimrite, MSc Candidate

Andréa Fimrite is a Master's student in the SDH program. She is registered dietitian and certified nutrition support clinician and received her Bachelor of Science, major in Nutrition and Food Sciences, from the University of Alberta. She has 13 years of experience working at the BC Cancer Agency- Vancouver Island Centre and specializes in dysphagia and complex symptom management with a special interest in palliative care. She will be studying minimizing patient and family/care-giver patient conflict about food and/or eating when disease limits intake.


Sally Hodgson, MA

Congratulations to Sally Hodgson, MA who sucessfully defended her Thesis on Monday September 12th , 2012.

A Study of the Impact of British Columbia’s Meat Inspection Regulations and Amendment on Food Security in Select Rural and Remote Communities in BC

Sally Hodgson is a Master's student in the SDH program. She received her Bachelor of Science at the University of Victoria in Geography, and spent one year in the workforce gaining knowledge and experience using Geographic Information Systems. She will be working with supervisor Aleck Ostry in the field of food security utilizing computer mapping software.


Alexandra Holtom, MA Candidate

I completed my BA in Anthropology and History at the University of Guelph in April 2012. I am now in the Social Dimensions of Health program at the University of Victoria, working under Cecilia Benoit at the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia. I plan to investigate the connections between the substance use and mental health of youth and young people in Victoria, B.C. I am passionate about harm reduction, mixed methods, and public health policies/initiatives that cater to the wellbeing of humans, not pharmaceutical companies!


Renée O’Leary, MA (Sociology, University of Victoria, 2011)

I am a proud “silver scholar” in the first year of the Social Dimensions of Health PhD program, and loving it.  During the past four years I have worked part-time as a contract Research Assistant in tobacco control and public health, with the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health since 2009.  I have co-authored three publications on smoking cessation, including Expecting to Quit, a provider manual and women’s website for cessation during pregnancy.  I specialize in researching and writing broad survey and systematic literature reviews.  I also have extensive experience in qualitative coding with NVivo.  My research focus is supply-side tobacco control.  My doctoral dissertation will create a real-time model of the commercial network of the tobacco industry with social network analysis and UCINet software, and will target actors (with KeyPlayer software) to disrupt the network through boycotts and divestitures.


Fernando Polanco B.Sc, M.Sc

Congratulations to Fernando Polanco, MSc who sucessfully defended his Thesis on Monday August 27, 2012.

"Type II Diabetes and KCNQ1 Mutations in First Nations People of Northern British Columbia

Fernando was born in Guatemala and raised in Terrace BC, and completed his B.Sc (with distinction) in Biology/Microbiology at Vancouver Island University with a focus in community associated infectious diseases and global health.  Fernando has used his undergraduate time wisely by traveling to Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Guatemala for health care initiatives.

His research interests include rural and global indigenous health, medical sciences, and social determinants of health.

After completing his B.Sc, Fernando was accepted into the interdisciplinary Social Dimensions of Health Research M.Sc program within the departments of Island Medical Program and the Center for Aboriginal Health Research at the University of Victoria. Fernando is now working with Dr. Laura Arbour in the Community Genetics Research Program looking at the correlations between a congenital heart disease and glucose metabolism in the Aboriginal community of the Gixtsan.  Fernando has received a entrance fellowship award from the Graduate Studies Department at the University of Victoria and a full research award from a CIHR-Institute for Aboriginal Peoples' Health grant from Kloshe Tillicum.

Fernando aims to complete this M.Sc and continue on in the medical field by entering into the M.D. program.


_DSC4361-2.jpgJenny Rand, B.Sc. (Health Education), M.Sc. Candidate

Jenny Rand completed her Bachelor’s degree at Dalhousie University in 2004.  She has over eight years experience working in community health promotion, education and programming.  She began her community health career in Nunavut, undertaking summer health promotion campaigns for the Government of Nunavut.  After completing her Bachelor’s degree, Jenny began working for the Calgary Health Region within the Sexual & Reproductive Health Program. Here she worked for four years as a Community Sexual Health Educator and Education Coordinator. 
Before moving to Victoria, Jenny worked for the Government of Nunavut as Regional Community Health Development Coordinator for the Kitikmeot Region.  She was responsible for major health projects within the Region including a region wide sexual health promotion program which focused on building community capacity through providing culturally relevant resources and training workshops to increase positive sexual health outcomes.  Jenny has a strong personal connection to Kugluktuk, Nunavut, as her family has lived there for over ten years. 
Jenny currently holds a Master’s Award from the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) HIV/AIDS Research Initiative.  Her planned research is examining Inuit women’s strengths and resiliencies through mixed qualitative methods including storytelling to help inform community based STI and HIV prevention programs.  


Marion Selfridge, PhD Candidate

Marion has been working as a social worker with youth for nearly 15 years in community agencies in Victoria, Whitehorse, Salt Spring Island and Seattle. Her MSW from University of Washington focussed on hospital and hospice social work. She has just spent 5 years working at the Victoria Youth Clinic and is intrigued by new ways of communicating with youth through texting and Facebook. She hopes to do her PhD research on marginalized youth's use of social media to support their mental health, especially when traumatic events happen, such as the death of a peer.


Walsh Judith Walsh, PhD Candidate

Judy Walsh is a Tenant Support Worker for Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society.  She has worked in the non-profit human service field for over 40 years in a variety of settings.  Her early career involved working with children, youth and families, and has spent the last twelve years working in supportive housing for individuals with mental health and addiction concerns and physical disabilities. She has written policy and procedure manuals for many organizations and has presented at provincial and national conferences.  She has also facilitated many training sessions and is a certified instructor for BC Non-Profit Housing Association.  She has been a sessional instructor at UBC Okanagan College, Vancouver Island University and North Island .College level.  Her doctoral research  will be in the field of food security.



Congratulations to Elietha Bosckei, MA who sucessfully defended her Thesis on Monday September 18th , 2012.

Charitable Meal Provisioning in Greater Victoria 2008-2011