From Top Row, L-R: Joshua Alampi, Aniqa Shahid, Karilyn Harris, Amanda Rowlands, and Jaimy Fischer

2020 Tri-Agency Award Recipients

August 05, 2020

The Tri-Agency Awards are awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). These awards support outstanding students pursuing a doctoral or master's degree in a health-related field. 

Jaimy Fischer: SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral)

Jaimy Fischer is a Michif with Red River ancestry (Saulteaux-Cree Métis) who was born and raised on Coast Salish Territories. She is a PhD candidate whose research interests span active travel and healthy built environments, GIScience and crowdsourced data, mobility justice, and community engaged research approaches. Fischer enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of FHS and is passionate about her work in the Cities, Health, and Active Transportation Research Lab. Her dissertation—supported by a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral award—will focus on how infrastructure investments impact active travel (walking, cycling, wheeling) and spatial equity.

Fischer also has a keen interest in community-engaged research and this fall she will participate in work with local Indigenous communities and youth service providers to identify questions of mobility justice and equity. She hopes to amplify Indigenous perspectives on what constitutes safe and healthy transportation. Other research interests include decolonizing spatial analyses and GIS mapping practices to support Indigenous geographies and data sovereignty.

This summer, Fischer is mapping and analyzing the equity and mobility impacts of COVID-19 related street changes in Canadian and US cities. When she is not working, you can find her rock-climbing, mountain biking, and actively working to reclaim her Métis culture and community responsibilities.

Karilyn Harris: CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarships Master's Award

Karilyn Harris was attracted to the diverse, interdisciplinary experience offered in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Upon receiving her BA in Psychology, Harris wanted to begin a master's degree where she could gain more knowledge of the biological underpinnings of health and disease in children, and Nadine Provençal’s EpiGenOmics of Developmental Trajectories (EGODT) laboratory was the perfect place to accomplish that. She has been able to enhance various skill sets and gain many new skills working under the supervision of Provençal and she is grateful for the opportunity.

Harris’ current research looks at stress throughout pregnancy and attempts to discover associations between prenatal stress and epigenetics (DNA methylation levels) as well as prenatal stress and brain morphology in the newborn child. By doing this type of research, there is the potential to identify epigenetic biomarkers implicated in the endophenotypes that play a role in disease emergence in children. Such discoveries have the potential to aid in early detection of children who might require additional care so that we can proactively assist these vulnerable populations.

The incredible financial support from CIHR that Harris has received will allow her to focus on her research and complete her project within the two-year timeframe. The award plays a large role in her ability to pursue a Master of Science degree and, in the future, a PhD. She cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Joshua Alampi: NSERC Canadian Graduate Scholarship Master's Award

Josh Alampi, an incoming MSc student, is honoured to receive the NSERC Canadian Graduate Scholarship Award. He graduated with his Bachelor of Science from the Faculty of Health Science last year, where he began his research career with Lawrence McCandless. They started a project using a statistical approach known as quantile regression to better understand the effects of gestational exposure to environmental chemicals on neurodevelopment in Canadian children. Quantile regression allows one to find the associations between an independent variable and the outcome throughout the outcome’s distribution. Linear regression, in contrast, can only find the average associations between these variables. Alampi demonstrated in his earlier research that quantile regression can capture interesting nuances that may be overlooked with linear regression.

Still, there are many questions about how quantile regression should be implemented in the field of environmental epidemiology. This is what Alampi intends to research with help from this award. Broadly speaking, Alampi’s goal for his MSc is to help develop and implement improved methods for health research. Fortunately, he will have expert guidance from Lawrence McCandless and Bruce Lanphear. He will also benefit from this faculty’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research.

Aniqa Shahid: CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Award

Aniqa Shahid, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), has been successful in the CIHR doctoral research competition, winning the Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Award. In addition to supporting her current research, this award will help her with future applications for post-doctoral research opportunities, as well as other research grants.

Originally from Pakistan, Shahid attended the University of Karachi, earning a three-year Bachelor's degree, followed by a one-year master’s degree (non-thesis) in Biotechnology. Upon graduation, she joined the HIV molecular epidemiology research laboratory at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. There, she characterized population-level HIV diversity in samples from Pakistan, Nepal, Kenya, and Afghanistan, helping her better understand the HIV epidemic in those populations. Her work led to four peer-reviewed publications, and inspired her to pursue a career in HIV basic science research.

Shahid, who also completed her Master of Science degree with FHS in 2015, is focusing her PhD research on HIV persistence and eradication. With her PhD project, “Towards an HIV cure for all: increasing female representation in HIV latency research,” she is studying the latent HIV reservoir dynamics and diversity in females. She hopes to help develop a cure for HIV that will be effective and accessible for all.

Amanda Rowlands: 2020 NSERC Vanier Scholarship

PhD student Amanda Rowlands is one of two SFU recipients of the 2020 NSERC Vanier Scholarship. After being nominated by SFU through a university-wide competition, was then selected to go on to the Ottawa-National level competition.

Being a part of FHS since 2013, Rowlands completed her Bachelor of Sciences in the Population and Quantitative Health Sciences stream, and completed her NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship funded master’s thesis with Pablo Nepomnaschy. She has since been working on her PhD research with Nepomnaschy in the Maternal and Child Health Lab.

The Vanier Scholarship enables her to focus on her research project examining how stress and sleep patterns may have an effect on reproductive development in adolescent girls, and reproductive ageing in women. Rowlands’ next steps in her research to better understand the relationships between sleep, stress, and reproductive health outcomes. Depending the COVID-19 pandemic, her team hopes to do a field season with a community in Guatemala in 2021. Upon completion of her PhD, she is planning on continuing to research in the field of maternal and child health development.