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Research Profile: Ehsan Jozaghi, Criminology

November 27, 2012
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Criminology PhD student Ehsan Jozaghi was born in Tehran, Iran, and his family moved to Canada in 2000. An early sign of his high intellectual abilities: in his first few years in Canada, he was able to both learn English and get onto the list of Honour Roll students at his high school.

Public service is important to Ehsan. After high school, he served as a Corporal in the Canadian Forces for eight years. He continues to serve in the Metro Vancouver community, from volunteering at Vancouver’s needle depot to distribute harm reduction supplies to drug users to teaching computer skills to new refugees and immigrants. Also, after volunteering for the community police in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam for four years, he was elected to be Chair of their Crime Watch Patrol.

That’s not his only leadership position. As an SFU undergraduate student, he was invited to become a member of the Golden Key Society — an honour which is only bestowed up students in the top 15% academically. He was then elected co-president for SFU’s Golden Key chapter, and was subsequently awarded Gold Status for positioning the Chapter as one of the top in Canada. He’s also served in senior positions within SFU's Criminology graduate caucus and represented his peers at the departmental level. Currently, he is a student representative on SFU's Senate, and a student member of SFU's Research Ethics Board.

All of his diplomatic and leadership skills serve him well in his academic career, where he is studying the phenomenon of culture change in drug use in the Downtown Eastside  of Vancouver. His master's thesis, ‘A little heaven in hell’: The role of a supervised injection facility in transforming place and its future, has already led to first-author publications in a number of peer-reviewed journals (Urban Studies, Urban Geography, International Journal of Drug Policy and Canadian Graduate Journal of Sociology and Criminology), as well as awards in international conference paper competitions.

His doctoral research continues his master's research on the InSite Supervised Injection Site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DES) and its impact on the social relations in the neighbourhood. InSite is located at the centre of an “injection drug epidemic,” and the harm-reduction mandate of the centre is to allow drug users a safe place to inject their drugs — a place where they can also receive health care and counseling if they need help to get off drugs. InSite began in 2003 as a controversial pilot project, and many research studies have led to the conclusion that this seemingly-permissive approach to drug addiction actually saves lives, leads to better healthcare in drug addicts, increases public safety and reduces crime.

Ehsan says, "I know my research is controversial, but I'm most concerned with carrying out ethical research that has the potential to better inform public health policy and ultimately, improve the lives of the most marginalized in society."

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