Maya Gislason

Associate Professor MSHRBC Scholar

Health Sciences

Maya Gislason

Associate Professor, MSHRBC Scholar

Health Sciences

Areas of interest

Social inequities in health, eco-social health, planetary health, ecosystem approaches to health, climate change, intergenerational climate equity, cumulative impacts of intensive resource extraction, Indigenous health and wellness, community participation, Patient-Oriented Research, critical pedagogy, public health, equity informed mixed methods evidence building, interplay between human, animal and ecosystem health, governance, structural and epistemic justice.


  • BA, Sociology and Women's Studies, University of Victoria, Canada
  • MA, Sociology, University of Victoria, Canada
  • PhD, Sociology (Medical Sociology), University of Sussex, UK


Dr. Gislason joined FHS in September 2014 and is now an Associate Professor in the faculty with a focus on health equity. Prior to this, she was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada with a focus on researching the intersections between public health and intensive resource extraction. Dr. Gislason holds a doctorate in Sociology (Medical Sociology) from the University of Sussex, UK, a Masters in Sociology and a double major in Sociology and Women’s Studies both from the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. A longstanding champion of ecosystem approaches to health, Dr. Gislason works upstream on public health issues by addressing the interconnection between human, animal and ecosystem health alongside her colleagues and community partners, including the First Nations Health Authority. She teaches on and guides research teams in developing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) informed evidence generating tools, is a Sex and Gender Champion on tri-agency funded research, and is actively engaged in the dynamic space of intersectionality research and Gender-based Analysis Plus approaches to policy formation and evidence building. Dr. Gislason applies these tools and process to research on the impacts of climate change on diverse populations, addressing the environmental and community health impacts of intensive resource extraction on rural, remote, northern and Indigenous communities in Canada, and ultimately to advance the shared goal of Planetary Health.

Research interests

A defining characteristic of Dr. Gislason’s research is the integration of social inequities in health scholarship with ecosystem approaches to health, which is employed in order to strengthen environmental and community health. Dr. Gislason currently works on two large scale and interacting eco-social public health issues which are significantly influencing health and wellbeing in Canada and internationally -- climate change and intensive resource extraction. As an interdisciplinary equity scholar working in the health sciences, she values the process of building strong bridges between science and society. At the core of her expanding research program and scholarly activity; therefore, is a commitment to connecting theory to practice and using knowledge produced through primary research to help address real world challenges.

An important thread of her work is a focus on women and children’s health. This is manifested through an existing research program developed in collaboration with a clinical specialist in the Fraser Health Authority to develop an equine-assisted psychotherapy program as an adjunctive therapy for children and youth with eating disorders. A new area of interest Dr. Gislason is developing is in community based mental health work for children and youth around climate change and intergenerational climate equity.

The impact of Dr. Gislason’s work is not only expressed through classical academic activities, such as publications and university teaching and service, but also through contributing to shifts in what is considered ‘good evidence’ and how science can inform policy formation and practice. Some of this work is found in evidence briefs, knowledge syntheses and reports to government and its impacts are reflected in how evidence is gathered and used by communities, government partners, in policy and practice development and within the research community.

To see some of Dr. Gislason’s projects and initiatives, please visit:

The Environment Community and Health Observatory Network

The Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health

The Ecohealth Knowledge to Action Research Group

The Ecological Determinants Group on Education (EDGE) of the Canadian Public Health Association

Public Health Association of British Columbia 2020 Summer School Think Globally, Act Locally: Public Health and the Anthropocene

FHS Planetary Health Research Challenge Area

Teaching interests

Dr. Gislason takes an integrated approach to research, teaching and engagement, which is organized around the common thread of critical enquiry related to social inequities in health. She finds supervision and mentorship to be a rewarding dimension of teaching and learning. Many of Dr. Gislason’s mentees are women who are actively navigating higher education and entry into health-related fields. To date, her students have applied their lenses within a range of professional positions – from Aboriginal Health at the Fraser Health Authority and the First Nations Health Authority to those working on the Downtown East Side on equity programming to those in Medical Schools and doctoral programs.