Ask a student

Do you have questions about becoming a graduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences? Email one of our current students if you'd like more information about student life in our programs! Questions regarding admission requirementsapplication procedures, tuition/fees, and funding can be answered by visiting our website or directed to fhsgrads@sfu.ca for prospective MPH students and fhs_programs@sfu.ca for prospective MSc/PhD students.

Master of Public Health

Joy Abasta 

Email: gabasta@sfu.ca

Hello, my name is Joy. I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines, and moved to Vancouver, Canada in 2014. I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, as well as Master’s degrees in Nursing and Education in my home country. My work as an RN back home included reproductive health, leadership, emergency response and disaster risk management. Currently, my public health interests include Indigenous health and immigrant health.

The MPH program at SFU offers an extensive pedagogy on health inequities and social justice. While the learning experience at FHS is comprehensive, it is important to develop a school/work-life balance and a routine that works for you. As a student, it is essential to plan ahead and include scheduled breaks regularly. That said, when I’m not in school, I love exploring the hike trails in Lower Mainland, do yoga, planning for my next trip, learn about history, as well as reading books!

If you have any questions, especially if you are from another country like me, please reach out and I’d love to chat with you!

Master of Science

Habib Lawal

Program: Master of Science

Email: hlawal@sfu.ca

I was born and raised in Nigeria. I received my Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. After my undergrad, I had my first public health experience working as M&E associate for APIN Public Health Initiative in Lagos, Nigeria. During my time at APIN, I became interested in the power of global health data and technology. My interest and involvement in public health data led me to search for a program that would allow me to explore the power of global health data and give me the freedom to tailor my degree program to my career. The Health Science Program at SFU ticked all the boxes in this area. This flexibility, coupled with the university's affiliation to the various research centers, convinced me that SFU is the best fit. Besides, the health science program at SFU encourages group activities that help students learn from each other and become familiar with their cohort. Outside of SFU, I engage in various outdoor activities such as hiking, soccer, and kayaking. One of what I found hardest (especially during my early days at SFU) was effective time management. Life became more comfortable when I learned to prioritize. Vancouver is a beautiful city. I encourage everyone to make time to explore the beautiful city of Vancouver while studying at SFU. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions about graduate students live at SFU and Vancouver in general!

Raymond Lo

Program: Master of Science

Email: ryl9@sfu.ca

Hi everyone, my name is Raymond and I was born and raised in Vancouver. I completed my BSc (Honours) in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at SFU and I am currently a MSc student in the Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization (IOGS) Program. During my undergrad I had the opportunity to go on co-op and work on different projects in cancer research. At the same time, I was made aware of the IOGS program offered at SFU and combined with my interests in cancer research lead me pursue my MSc here. My current project focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms controlling the development of treatment resistance in cancer cells.

A unique aspect of FHS that separates it from other programs is the emphasis on interdisciplinary research. This aims to not only broaden your perspective on current health issues, but also consider the impact and role your own research has on society. Grad school is an enriching experiencing to not only encourage growth and learning but also develop meaningful experiences and connections with your peers. I encourage everyone to find a good work life balance and have fun. Outside of the lab I enjoy travelling and learning about different cultures. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the program!

Doctor of Philosophy

Undarmaa Enkhbat

Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Email: uenkhbat@sfu.ca

Undarmaa Enkhbat’s research looks at the effects of air pollution on neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. The study population are women and children living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia as one of the most polluted cities in the world.  Five hundred forty pregnant women were recruited for the study were randomly located into intervention groups to receive high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) air purifiers throughout the pregnancy. “Our work looks at the impacts of reducing air pollution during pregnancy on neurodevelopment in children. Results from the study may provide further evidence that air pollution exposure during pregnancy has a negative impact on neurodevelopment in children.”

 “Coming from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to join the research team at FHS has been an incredible experience. I find the professors and faculty staff to be very supportive, and felt at home right away. Working on research that I am familiar with and reminding myself that the impact my work can have on human life excites me to work on my research.”

Before coming to FHS, Undarmaa held a faculty position at the School of Public Health of Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, one of FHS’s international collaborating centers.

Jaimy Fischer

Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Email: jaimyf@sfu.ca

Tanshi! Nimeytaen ainwapimitan— I’m glad to see you. My name is Jaimy and I’m a second year PhD student. I’m Otipemisiwak and a member of the Métis Nation of BC. I have a BA in Geography from the University of Victoria, with a concentration in human geography and geomatics. I am using that foundation in my PhD to study how people in cities use active transportation to get around.

I chose to pursue graduate studies at SFU because I had the opportunity to work on an exciting project in the CHATR lab. Our lab focuses on various topics at the intersection of health, transportation, and city design, and my work in particular uses big data to understand how investment in All Ages and Abilities (AAA) bicycle infrastructure impacts ridership, safety, and equity for different population groups. In the lab, I’m lucky to work with a diverse and supportive group of people.

I am also a graduate fellow with SFU’s Community Engaged Research Initiative where I am working in community around issues of mobility justice—a grounding for understanding the differential ways people experience transportation and street safety. In this capacity, I am working toward building relations with community service providers, Indigenous communities, and youth to advance equity and amplify community perspectives of safe and healthy mobility.

I started the MSc program in 2018 and quickly realized that I love research and working with my supervisor, so last year I transferred to the PhD program. Transitioning from a masters to a PhD was challenging but has offered me time to grow as a researcher. I love the interdisciplinary nature of FHS, and my advice is to seek out the wide range of opportunities and support that the faculty, staff, and program have to offer. Also, if you don’t have a clear path laid out ahead of you, that’s ok—it will come together, especially if you can build your support network and are willing to take chances. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the program and my FHS experience.

Kate Hosford

Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Email: khosford@sfu.ca

I completed a BASc at Quest University and a MSc in the Faculty of Health Sciences here at SFU. My undergrad training was very interdisciplinary in nature and sparked a curiosity in how we can improve health through city design. I chose to come to SFU for my master’s for the opportunity to work in the CHATR lab on research related to cities, health, and transportation. My master’s research focused on understanding all things related to Vancouver’s bike share program - how did it impact cycling? who uses it? who doesn’t use it? Throughout my master’s I quickly realized how much I loved research and working with my supervisor. And so, I decided to stay in the Faculty of Health Sciences for a few more years to embark on a PhD. For my PhD, I am studying the health and equity implications of a potential transportation policy for the Metro Vancouver region. 

I’ve really enjoyed my experience in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. There is lots of flexibility to design a program that makes the most sense for you. Doing a PhD can be isolating, so my advice is to find your support people early on in your degree. Also, take lots of breaks! Things often come together for me when I’m out on a walk or run. Happy to answer any questions about the program or doing a PhD.

Natalie Kinloch

Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Email: nkinloch@sfu.ca

Born and raised in the Vancouver area, I completed my BSc (Honours) in Health Sciences at SFU. In my final years of undergrad, and after stints in various labs at SFU and at BC Cancer Research Centre as part of co-op, I started working in the lab I’m currently doing my PhD. Our lab focuses on HIV pathogenesis and evolution. I quickly realized how much I loved research and how meaningful it can be to be a part of a wider community of people all putting their heads together to try to help others around the world. Three years later I haven’t left! Outside of the lab, I can be found reading about difference places around the world or out on the pitch playing field hockey.

I deeply value the interdisciplinary nature of the FHS curriculum and feel it has greatly enhanced my learning and understanding of the world and other people in ways that would not have been possible if I exclusively focused on my research work. Learning from my peers during graduate school has been such an enriching experience. I have also been so fortunate to receive incredible mentorship/supervision throughout my research/graduate career and cannot underscore enough the importance and value of this as well. Grad school is an extraordinary time for learning and growth. Follow your interests, listen, take chances, push yourself, have fun!

Stefanie Machado

Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Email: stefanie_machado@sfu.ca

I am Indian by origin and was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, UAE. I moved to Canada in 2013 and graduated from Dalhousie University with a BSc Health Promotion, a unique program during which I conducted my honours thesis on international university students’ access to sexual health services. I moved to Vancouver in 2017 to pursue the MPH degree at SFU, where I continued to pursue my interests in immigrant health. During my MPH practicum with the Centre for Gender & Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE), I supported qualitative research with im/migrant women in Vancouver, learning about their sexual and reproductive health access and needs. I am currently continuing my work in this area as a PhD student at CGSHE and within the Faculty of Health Sciences, which I’m very excited about! 

I’ve always wanted to find a place to call home in Canada, and I think I may have found it in Vancouver! I love the balance of city and nature here, and living on the coast is where I feel most at home. I grew up constantly traveling and love meeting and learning from people from different countries and cultures, making this diverse city so great. Like most experiences, including my time at Dalhousie and SFU, I believe that your academic experience is what you make of it. I encourage everyone to step outside your comfort zone and embrace the opportunities that come your way. Whether you have a clear passion or goal, or have no idea where you want to be, take the time to explore, learn from others, question everything, take chances, and aim high!

Aniqa Shahid

Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Email: ashahid@sfu.ca

I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. I moved to Vancouver as an international student in 2012 and have lived here since then. I finally called Canada my home when I became a permanent resident in 2017.

I am a basic science researcher by education and training. I have worked in HIV/AIDS molecular biology and immunology research since 2010. After finishing basic education in Pakistan, I worked at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. Then I relocated to Canada and joined the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU) to pursue my MSc degree. After graduating from SFU, I joined the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE). It was when my former MSc supervisor, Dr. Zabrina Brumme, became the new laboratory director at the BCCfE, I decided to return to SFU and pursue my PhD. And here I am! You may read about my research work here.

Outside research, I am passionate about engaging with the community, which has led me to various volunteer opportunities and mentorship roles. I have worked with MOSAIC and IECBC to help immigrant and refugee families become self-sufficient and adjust to life in Canada.

In the end, to make the most of your educational and professional experience, it is important to have a work-life balance. It helps a lot if you have things that you enjoying doing in your spare time. So, when I am not in the laboratory, I am either reading a book or hiking (obviously, weather-permitting, because hey, we live in Van(rain)couver!).

You may connect with me by email at ashahid@sfu.ca or via my linked in.

Gisele Umviligihozo

Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Email: gumvilig@sfu.ca

Hello, my name is Gisele. Originally from Rwanda, I completed my BSc. at the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Rwanda and a Postgraduate Certificate in Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. My previous work in Rwanda as a clinical research laboratory technician included studying the dynamics of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission and testing potential HIV vaccines. I moved to Vancouver to join the MSc. program in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, then transferred to the PhD program. My current laboratory research focuses on the assessment of the role of HIV accessory proteins on HIV pathogenesis as well as on the consequences of immune escape mutations on the function of viral proteins.

While the multidisciplinary aspect of the FHS graduate program at SFU offers unique flexibility to explore other disciplines, it is important that students stay focused and broaden knowledge to develop their own area of study. Develop a study plan and take advantage of the excellent mentoring offered by the FHS faculty and the student community for support and guidance to successfully navigate the program.

Vancouver and the surrounding area of ​​our campuses have very beautiful mountains, ocean / lakes, wildlife and vegetation! Outside of my work, I enjoy outdoor activities (hiking, biking or a road trip) and like to travel to new places!

My advice to new students, be yourself, set your goals and take it one step at a time

I am happy to answer your questions or share more about my SFU experience!