Faculty of Health Sciences

Faculty Profile: Julian M. Somers

October 15, 2018

By Nicole Strutt

Dr. Julian Somers was the Founding Director of the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA). He was recruited to SFU's Faculty of Health Sciences in 2007 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2017.

Somers stands out as a superstar supervisor because of his passion for his work and his ability to inspire his students to achieve greatness. Current PhD student, Milad Parpouchi recalls, “Dr. Somers is a very engaging speaker, which stems from his passion for health and social outcomes among vulnerable and marginalized populations. His passion and enthusiasm for the courses he teaches and the safe environment he creates in his classrooms enable people to feel comfortable to engage in an open discussion.”

During Somers’ time as Senior Supervisor, 12 major awards were given out to his students including the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar award, several CIHR Doctoral Fellowships, and postdoctoral fellowships from the Michael Smith Foundation, CIHR, and L’Oreal-UNESCO. Additionally, his graduate students earned four of the last eight Convocation Medals and in the last six years have completed over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts for leading journals like Addiction, Schizophrenia Bulletin, and PLOS Medicine.

Dr. Somers provides rich community-engaged research opportunities for his students, like the Vancouver Home Study – Canada’s largest study addressing addiction, mental illness and homelessness. The project gave students the opportunity to work closely with clients, community agencies, branches of government, media, and leading international researchers. Most importantly, expresses Lauren Currie, PhD student, “this project offered a unique a rarefied opportunity to be actively involved in a large scale social intervention study few people will experience during their careers.”

Under his supervision, it is apparent that Somers has made a positive impact on his graduate students. “Dr. Somers’ lab environment provides students with opportunities to work as a collaborative team on research grants, research papers and conference presentations with the goal of building long term career profession opportunities,” says Indigenous health researcher Brittany Bingham.

Dr. Somers is receiving an award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision in recognition of his inspiring commitment to health research and his dedication to promoting success in others.

The 2019 Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence are open for nominations. Deadline for nominations is March 15, 2019.

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