Nia King

How does climate change impact health in rural and remote regions in Canada?

It's our pleasure to share our new publication, which provides a synthesis of the forthcoming first order draft of the Canadian Government’s National Assessment on Climate Change ‘Rural and Remote’ chapter, highlighting key health concerns from the literature associated with climate change in rural and remote regions, as well as existing and future adaptation strategies.

New Publication Exploring the Hidden Costs of Enteric Illness in the North

Congratulations to Nia King for her recent publication in PloS One.  In the north, per capita healthcare costs are high. However, given Inuit communities’ unique cultural, economic, and geographic contexts, there is a knowledge gap regarding the context-specific indirect healthcare costs borne by Inuit. Therefore, Nia worked with Northern partners to identify the major indirect costs of enteric illness, and explore factors associated with these indirect costs, in Rigolet, Canada.


King, N., Vriezen, R., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Wood, M., IHACC Research Team, Harper, S.L. (2018). The hidden costs: Identification of indirect costs associated with acute gastrointestinal illness in an Inuit community. PloS One, 13(5), e0196990.  Click here for free article (open access).


Background: Acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) incidence and per-capita healthcare expenditures are higher in some Inuit communities as compared to elsewhere in Canada. Consequently, there is a demand for strategies that will reduce the individual-level costs of AGI; this will require a comprehensive understanding of the economic costs of AGI. However, given Inuit communities’ unique cultural, economic, and geographic contexts, there is a knowledge gap regarding the context-specific indirect costs of AGI borne by Inuit community members. This study aimed to identify the major indirect costs of AGI, and explore factors associated with these indirect costs, in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Canada, in order to develop a case-based context-specific study framework that can be used to evaluate these costs.

Methods: A mixed methods study design and community-based methods were used. Qualitative in-depth, group, and case interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis to identify and describe indirect costs of AGI specific to Rigolet. Data from two quantitative cross-sectional retrospective surveys were analyzed using univariable regression models to examine potential associations between predictor variables and the indirect costs.

Results/Significance: The most notable indirect costs of AGI that should be incorporated into cost-of-illness evaluations were the tangible costs related to missing paid employment and subsistence activities, as well as the intangible costs associated with missing community and cultural events. Seasonal cost variations should also be considered. This study was intended to inform cost-of-illness studies conducted in Rigolet and other similar research settings. These results contribute to a better understanding of the economic impacts of AGI on Rigolet residents, which could be used to help identify priority areas and resource allocation for public health policies and programs.

Community-based Research Update: Nia & Kate in Uganda

Written by Nia King, Research Associate About two weeks ago I arrived in Uganda to work as a research assistant alongside Kate Patterson (PhD candidate), investigating rural maternal health and working to develop a knowledge translation strategy for IHACC Uganda. We are staying at the Monkey House, and have been joined by a wide variety of interesting visitors, including a group of external hospital auditors, tropical health students from the London School of Tropical Health and Medicine, two Americans who have spent the past two years driving in a camper van across Africa, and Dr. Kellerman, founder of Bwindi Community Hospital. This has made for a very lively and fun living environment!

With the quantitative maternal health surveys having been completed this past summer, we are now working with local research associates Seba, Charity, and Grace to conduct qualitative focus group discussions and individual interviews with mothers and fathers in Batwa and Bakiga communities throughout the Kanungu District. As the primary focus of Kate’s research is Indigenous maternal health, we are conducting repeated weekly focus group discussions with women in three Batwa settlements, chosen to capture the variety in geographies and access to healthcare. By spending approximately six hours discussing with each group of women, we are starting to capture and understand many of the nuances related to maternal health in rural Uganda. In addition to these focus groups, we have conducted focus group discussions with Batwa men and Bakiga (non-Indigenous) women. Kate has also been working with 9 Batwa women conducting repeated individual interviews to gather personal narratives surrounding maternal health. Through these various engagements, we have met many amazing women throughout the past couple weeks and look forward to providing them with a platform to voice their challenges and concerns. Our findings are intended to inform maternal health programs and delivery at the Bwindi Community Hospital and surrounding healthcare facilities.

When not in the communities, we have had the opportunity to partake in several hikes, including one that leads to a ridge overlooking the Ugandan and Democratic Republic of Congo border. Kate was also amazing and arranged a birthday party (including a homemade banana-nutella cake) for me last week, which made spending my birthday away from home extra special.

Overall our work is progressing smoothly here. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to live in this amazing part of the world and to learn from all of Kate’s experience. I look forward to the next two weeks—the time here is flying and pretty soon I’ll be hopping on a plane back home!

Nia King wins both top undergraduate convocation awards!

Congratulations to Nia King for winning the top undergraduate convocation awards at the University of Guelph:

  • Winegard Medal: "The Winegard Medal is the University of Guelph's top convocation award to an undergraduate student. Named for former University of Guelph president Dr. William Winegard, the medal is awarded in recognition of both academic achievement and contributions to university and community life."
  • Governor General Medal: "Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation, created these Academic Medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years, they have become the most prestigious award that students in Canadian schools can receive."

Citation: Governor General Medal, Read by Sherilee Harper

The University of Guelph awards two silver medals from the Governor General each year to the two graduating students with the highest cumulative average in any undergraduate degree program. Both 2017 recipients are graduates of the College of Biological Science.

Madame Chancellor, I have the honour of presenting to you one of the recipients of the Governor General’s Silver Medal, Nia King.

In her four years at the University, Nia has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. She is graduating with a B.Sc. Honours degree in Bio-medical Science with a cumulative average of 97.5%. Nia maintained this high level of performance in each semester of her program, earning a grade of at least 97% in 27 of 36 courses, and 100% in five courses.

If those exceptional grades weren’t enough, Nia has been a very productive researcher in the Department of Population Medicine. She has conducted community-based research with Canadian Inuit, Kenyan farmers, and migrant workers in India to advance our understanding of complex public health issues. Nia has presented her work at national conferences, and remarkably is a co-author of four published articles, as well as two currently in review.

Nia has been recognized by the University community on several occasions for her academic achievements. She was awarded the A. Peepre Memorial and Lionel Bradley Pett Scholarships from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and a CBS Student Council Academic Achievement Award based on her sustained academic excellence. These awards were in addition to many other honours, including the College of Biological Science Dean’s scholarship on two occasions and the highly prestigious University of Guelph President’s Scholarship.

In addition to these many academic accomplishments, Nia has also been a very active contributor to the community and an outstanding provincial and national level athlete.

Madame Chancellor, I am sure you will agree that Nia King is an exemplary student and fully deserving of the Governor General’s Silver Medal.

Citation: Winegard Medal, Read by Jonathan Newman

The William Winegard Medal is the University of Guelph’s most prestigious undergraduate student convocation award and is named in honour of Dr. William C. Winegard, a former University of Guelph president.  This medal is awarded annually in recognition of both academic achievement and contributions to university and community life.

Madam Vice-Chancellor, I am honoured to present this year’s recipient of the William Winegard Medal, Nia King.

Described as a born leader and a natural scholar, Nia King is a top student in biomedical sciences, a dedicated researcher in public health and an outstanding athlete.

Nia’s academic achievements place her at the top of the 2016/17 graduating class. Further, through a series of research assistantships, she pursued her passion for public health and community engagement by studying Indigenous health and international public health. Nia contributed to the Federal Government’s climate change adaptation strategy for Northern Canada, and advanced our understanding of public health issues in rural India, physical health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, and education in Kenya.

In addition to Nia’s many academic accomplishments, she has been a very active member of the community. She has served as a health care volunteer, a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, and coordinator for the TEDxGuelphU series. She was named among Guelph’s Top 40 Under 40, and was chosen as one of three North Americans to serve as an Impossible2Possible Global Youth Ambassador.

Nia also has pursued athletics at the highest level, including running the Boston Marathon, playing ringette for Team Ontario, and rowing for Team Canada. Using her athletics for social good, Nia ran the equivalent of five consecutive marathons across Death Valley for a global education program using adventure learning.

Nia embodies the values of the University of Guelph in her commitment to learning and pursuit of excellence in everything that she does. Her outstanding academic achievements and volunteer work both at the university and abroad, demonstrate that she is a very deserving recipient of this year’s William Winegard Medal.