Get to Know the Fall 2021 Fellows

Martha Gumprich

Faculty of Health Sciences
M.A. Student

What is your research about it? And why should people care about it?

My work looks at the experiences and mental health of non-binary youth in organized team sports in Canada. This work is important because there is so much misinformation and harmful rhetoric going around stating that it is unfair for trans women to participate in sports, which has been proven by science to be untrue. This rhetoric is negatively impacting how gender minorities are treated in sports. This work will help inform policy to ensure that all people are safe and treated well in sports.

What motivates you to do community-engaged research?

I am motivated to do community-engaged research to help amplify the voices of non-binary youth in Canada. Until now, there have been no studies like this in Canada. There has been only one study in the world that has explicitly looked at non-binary people in sports. By doing this research with and for the non-binary community, I aim to bring light to the experiences of non-binary athletes and help ensure their safety in the future.

Farinaz Rikhtehgaran

Department of Gerontology
M.A. Student

What is your research about it? And why should people care about it?

My research is focused on building more walkable urban neighbourhoods for everyone specifically for older adults since in comparison to the other age groups, their health and independence are much more dependent on the walkability of their neighbourhoods. Walking in the neighbourhood is more of a challenge for immigrant older adults in comparison to their native peers which is mainly related to the various barriers and discrimination they experience in the community. As an international student from Iran, I am investigating this topic with the older Iranian population as a minority group in Metro Vancouver.

What is community-engaged research means to you?

As an urban designer, I believe that we would not be able to build better cities and neighbourhoods for people without involving them in the process of creation of the cities and environments. Regarding their daily experiences in the neighbourhoods, people in the community know their needs better than the experts which highlights the importance of involving them as co-researchers in the urban development projects. Everyone has a right to the city, and we should respect it otherwise, our efforts are all of the low value! I believe that the path to a better future passes through the engaging community in research and practice.

Sandeep K. Dhillon

Department of Gerontology
PhD candidate

What does community-engaged research mean to you?

I believe community-engaged research means building authentic relationships with community members and researchers from academic institutions working collaboratively to address real-life matters in real-time. By empowering community knowledge keepers, it helps break down systemic power imbalances that typically occur in traditional research. I wholeheartedly believe using community-engaged research can improve the health and well-being of underserved and underrepresented communities. In particular, low-income, LGBTQ+, ethnic minorities, and Indigenous populations suffer disproportionately from many chronic and mental health conditions, so it is imperative to investigate the disparities that exist from a grass-roots level. Therefore, community-engaged research is a powerful instrument that demands answers and action.

Can you describe your experience with the graduate research fellowship?

As a recipient of the Community-Engaged Research Fellowship Program, I have learned many in-depth skills from the various workshops I attended. Partaking in regular discussions with my peers, I challenged my own biases when doing community-engaged research, which allowed me to discover unique ways I could improve my research project. In turn, the fellowship has helped me build stronger community relationships, allowing me to complete my dissertation using a participatory approach. Ultimately, I firmly acknowledge that my experience through CERi will support my ability in the future to conduct authentic and meaningful community-engaged research with other underserved communities.

Rachelle Patille

Department of Gerontology
M.A. Student

What is your research about it? And why should people care about it?

My research focuses on community-based intergenerational relationships. I situate the importance of this research through key social forces and factors that contribute to an age-segregated society such as shifts in family structures, the geographical separation of families, and physical separation of generations due to COVID-19.

Through personal lived experience, I understand the value of bringing generations together and how it shapes foundational elements of life. This propelled me to focus on innovative community-based intergenerational opportunities that work towards an age-integrated society, especially for those who lack intergenerational family support, which is quite common. I am interested in intergenerational opportunities that bring individuals, who may not have these opportunities, together in the community. Through CER methods, this research will offer a rich and holistic understanding of how community-based nonkin intergenerational programs impact quality of life as well as reveal program implementation and maintenance strategies to inform intergenerational programs in BC.

What does community-engaged research (CER) mean to you? 

I find conducting CER extremely moving and empowering. As a community-engaged researcher you are actively listening to the lived experiences of individuals of a specific phenomenon and aiming to create a vehicle to elicit change or deeper understanding. I believe it encourages a safe, welcoming, participatory space for individuals to share their experiences, which in turn can inform policy, practices, or guidelines. From my experience, CER facilitates community connectivity along with various networking opportunities which actively works to bridge the gap between community and academia.

Maya Guttmann

School of Resource & Environmental Management
MRM Student

Can you describe your experience with the graduate research fellowship?

My most positive takeaway from the fellowship was the opportunity to talk to students from a variety of different disciplines. My background is in natural sciences. And so being able to have conversations with folks from all sorts of different disciplinary backgrounds, I think enriches the way I approach my own work and gives more depth to the questions I can ask others.

What would you say was your most enjoyable moment during your fellowship?

We had a showcase at the end of the fellowship, where all the fellows were encouraged to share a little bit about their work. I appreciated how rather than imposing a structure on that showcase, the fellowship facilitators let us decide what we wanted the showcase to look like. We decided that we didn't want super structured presentations, but rather something a little bit more open that would promote storytelling amongst participants. We ended up with something quite special, where people were sharing everything from presentations about their research, to poetry that explored their positionality and relationship to their work.

Nicole Stewart

School of Communication
PhD Candidate

What is your research about it? And why should people care about it?

My doctoral work, Platforms and Everyday Life uses domestication theory (Silverstone & Hirsch, 1992; Silverstone, 1994; Bakardjieva, 2005; Berker et al., 2006; Vincent & Haddon, 2018) to explore how 30 families (110 participants) in British Columbia use, store, and share communication technologies in everyday life. The study includes parents and young people between the age of 0-19, examining devices like smart televisions, smartphones, computers, tablets, gaming consoles, and smart speaker assistants, as well as platforms related to social media, streaming media, and gaming. The study is important because it provides a contemporary analysis of communication technologies in everyday life. 

What was the most enjoyable moment with the graduate research fellowship? 

My favourite experience was collaborating with two of my fellow fellows on a research project surrounding the strengths and struggles that graduate student experience when conducting community-engaged research. We enjoyed the opportunity to connect, work together, and present our findings at CERi’s Horizons conference. 

Jack Farrell

Department of Criminology

PhD Student

What is your research about it? And why should people care about it?

During the CERi fellowship I've been working as a research assistant on a project from the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition called Imagine Safer Supply which explores the perspectives of people who use drugs and frontline workers' of safer supply.  Safer supply are pathways to ensure the access and distribution of a supply of drugs whose content and potency is known. We're looking at questions like: to what extent are current models working or not? And what would an ideal safer supply look like? The reason it's important is that we're in an unprecedented crisis of drug toxicity deaths with more people dying every day in Canada from drug toxicity than COVID. So, the goals of the research would be to integrate policy based on the needs and the solutions devised by people who use drugs. And what we're finding is yes, people who use drugs and frontline workers urgently need expanded and varied forms of safer supply.

What does community-based research mean to you? And what does it look like?

There's a quote from one of our participants in the Imagine Safer Supply project, which, for me, sums up the point of community-engaged research: “the people closer to the pain need to be closer to the power”. And I love that quote because I think that sums up for me what community-engaged research is trying to do.

You're trying to center the perspectives of people who've been impacted by policy but have never had a say in making it. One of the focuses of my doctoral work is trying to highlight the expertise of people who use drugs when it comes to devising solutions to the problems of current drug policy. So, community-engaged research offers a way to flip the position of people who use drugs from being subjects of drug policy into being active creators of drug policy based on their pain, based on their past.