Congratulations to Dr. Carol Zaveleta for her recent publication in PLoS One. Her participatory, community-based study was conducted in collaboration with Shawi communities. Together, they worked to characterize the food system of the Shawi in the Peruvian Amazon, climatic and non-climatic drivers of their food security vulnerability to climate change, and identify potential maladaptation trajectories. They found that transformational food security adaptation should include consideration of Indigenous perceptions and priorities, and should be part of Peruvian food and socioeconomic development policies. Click here for free article (open access).
Zavaleta, C., Berrang-Ford, L., Ford, J., Llanos-Cuentas, A., Carcamo, C., Ross, N., Lancha, G., Sherman, M., Harper, S.L., IHACC Research Team. (2018) Multiple non-climatic drivers of food insecurity reinforce climate change maladaptation trajectories among Peruvian Indigenous Shawi in the Amazon. PLoS ONE 13(10): e0205714. Click here for free article (open access).
Background: Climate change is affecting food systems globally, with implications for food security, nutrition, and the health of human populations. There are limited data characterizing the current and future consequences of climate change on local food security for populations already experiencing poor nutritional indicators. Indigenous Amazonian populations have a high reported prevalence of nutritional deficiencies. This paper characterizes the food system of the Shawi of the Peruvian Amazon, climatic and non-climatic drivers of their food security vulnerability to climate change, and identifies potential maladaptation trajectories.
Methods and findings: Semi-structured interviews with key informants (n = 24), three photovoice workshops (n = 17 individuals), transect walks (n = 2), a food calendar exercise, and two community dissemination meetings (n = 30 individuals), were conducted within two Shawi communities in Balsapuerto District in the Peruvian Loreto region between June and September of 2014. The Shawi food system was based on three main food sub-systems (forest, farming and externally-sourced). Shawi reported collective, gendered, and emotional notions related to their food system activities. Climatic and non-climatic drivers of food security vulnerability among Shawi participants acted at proximal and distal levels, and mutually reinforced key maladaptation trajectories, including: 1) a growing population and natural resource degradation coupled with limited opportunities to increase incomes, and 2) a desire for education and deforestation reinforced by governmental social and food interventions.
Conclusion: A series of maladaptive trajectories have the potential to increase social and nutritional inequities for the Shawi. Transformational food security adaptation should include consideration of Indigenous perceptions and priorities, and should be part of Peruvian food and socioeconomic development policies.
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In this episode, Kate talks about how she used an America Adapts episode, “Deconstructing a Climate Change Skeptic” as part of her class curricula at the University of Waterloo. Specifically, in this interview, "Kate discusses why she chose this episode to use a tool to teach her students effective climate communication."
Kate touches on the following topics in her interview:
Using podcasts in the classroom to promote environmental change;
Learning that climate skepticism is more prevalent than many realize;
Developing guidelines for listening to a podcast and talking climate change;
Understanding the role of open access educational materials, especially climate resources;
Students explain how listening to a climate skeptic enhanced their ability to communicate climate change.
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.
Sincerest congratulations to undergraduate student Marta Thorpe, who was recently accepted to the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program, Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto!
Marta has been examining the range and extent of community-based research methods used in Arctic sciences. Marta will begin her new program at the University of Toronto this fall semester.
Congratulations to Undergraduate Thesis Student Crystal Gong, who is one of the honorees being recognized by the Guelph Y 2018 Guelph Women of Distinction. Crystal is working on our research team on two research projects: (1) synthesizing the state of knowledge on food security in the context of climate change, and (2) examining how season is associated with food security.
Read more about Crystal's award:
Congratulations to PhD Candidate Kaitlin Patterson for winning one of the CIHR's Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements! With this award, Kate will be hosted and supervised by Dr. Shuaib Lwasa at Makerere University in Uganda, and supported by the Batwa Development Program, the Bwindi Community Hospital, and the Ugandan Ministry of Health to continue her research, working with Indigenous Batwa to characterize maternal health. During her award tenure, she will: 1) continue her investigation to identify maternal health opportunities in Kanungu district, including the mobilization and dissemination of these findings, 2) collaborate with Indigenous partners to co-produce and co-write two journal articles, and 3) formalize an international health research network between Canadian and Ugandan students. Congratulations Kate!
Congratulations to Vivienne Steele (MSc Candidate) for being selected as a Young Leader in the Women Deliver program! "The award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program provides youth advocates with opportunities to take their work advancing gender equality to the next level." The Young Leaders are selected "for their potential to have a lasting impact on the lives of girls and women. As a group, they have already driven tangible progress on a wide range of issues, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, LGBTQ+ rights, peace and security, water and sanitation, gender-based violence, education, maternal health, and political participation."
"This was the program’s most competitive application process yet, with nearly 3,000 applications for 300 spots. It is also the largest and most diverse cohort to join the award-winning program: the group hails from 121 countries and collectively speaks 98 languages. The Young Leaders also include people from communities too often marginalized, including 66 people affected by humanitarian emergencies, 29 self-identified indigenous persons, and — for the first time — 18 adolescents."
Congratulations to Carlee Wright for publishing her second article from her MSc thesis! Click here to read the full article... Citation: Wright, C.J., Sargeant, J.M., Edge, V.L., Ford, J.D., Farahbakhsh, K., Shiwak, I., Flowers, C., Gordon, A.C., RICG, IHACC Research Team (Berrang-Ford, L., Carcamo, C., Llanos, A., Lwasa, S., Namanya, D.B.), and Harper, S.L. (2018). How are perceptions associated with water consumption in Canadian Inuit? A cross-sectional survey in Rigolet, Labrador. Science of The Total Environment, 618(15): 369–378.
Concerns regarding the safety and aesthetic qualities of one's municipal drinking water supply are important factors influencing drinking water perceptions and consumption patterns (i.e. sources used and daily volume of consumption). In northern Canada, Inuit communities face challenges with drinking water quality, and many Inuit have reported concerns regarding the safety of their drinking water. The objectives of this research were to describe perceptions of municipal tap water, examine use of water sources and changes following the installation of a potable water dispensing unit (PWDU) in 2014, and identify factors associated with water consumption in the Inuit community of Rigolet. This study used data from three cross-sectional census surveys conducted between 2012 and 2014. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to aggregate data from multiple variables related to perceptions of water, and logistic regressions were used to identify variables associated with water consumption patterns. Three quarters of residents reported using the PWDU after its installation, with concomitant declines reported in consumption of bottled, tap, and brook water. Negative perceptions of tap water were associated with lower odds of consuming tap water (ORPCAcomponent1 = 0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.94; ORPCAcomponent2 = 0.67, 95% CI 0.49–0.93); women had higher odds of drinking purchased water compared to men (OR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.11–3.26). The median amount of water consumed per day was 1 L. Using brook water (OR = 2.60, 95% CI 1.22–5.56) and living in a household where no one had full-time employment (OR = 2.94, 95% CI 1.35–6.39) were associated with consuming > 2 L of water per day. Results of this study may inform drinking water interventions, risk assessments, and public health messaging in Rigolet and other Indigenous communities.
Congratulations to first-author Rob Stefanelli, from Heather Castleden's HEC Lab, on his publication that examines Canadian and Australian researchers' perspectives on promising practices for implementing indigenous and Western knowledge systems in water research and management.
Stefanelli, R., Castleden, H., Cunsolo, A., Martin, D., Harper, S.L. and Hart, C., 2017. Canadian and Australian researchers' perspectives on promising practices for implementing indigenous and Western knowledge systems in water research and management. Water Policy, DOI: 10.2166/wp.2017.181. Click here to access the article.
National and international policies have called for the inclusion of Indigenous peoples and the uptake of Indigenous knowledge alongside Western knowledge in natural resource management. Such policy decisions have led to a recent proliferation of research projects seeking to apply both Indigenous and Western knowledge in water research and management. While these policies require people with knowledge from both Western and Indigenous perspectives to collaborate and share knowledge, how best to create and foster these partnerships is less understood. To elicit this understanding, 17 semi-structured interviews were completed with academic researchers from Canada and Australia who conduct integrative water research. Participants, most of whom were non-Indigenous, were asked to expand on their experiences in conducting integrative water research projects, and findings were thematically analyzed. Our findings suggest that Indigenous and Western knowledge systems influence how one relates to water, and that partnerships require a recognition and acceptance of these differences. We learned that community-based participatory research approaches, and the associated tenets of fostering mutual trust and community ownership for such an approach, are integral to the meaningful engagement that is essential for developing collaborative partnerships to implement both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems and better care for water.
Sincerest congratulations to PhD student, Jamie Snook, on this prestigious and well-deserved honour!
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.
Congratulations to Sarah MacVicar for her new publication! Sarah's paper examines associations between in utero meteorological exposures and foetal growth among Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers in rural Uganda. If you ever wondered how weather conditions impact foetal growth, check out this paper! Click here to view the open-access paper.
MacVicar, S., Berrang-Ford, L., Harper, S.L., Huang, Y., Namanya, B.D. and Yang, S., 2017. Whether weather matters: Evidence of association between in utero meteorological exposures and foetal growth among Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers in rural Uganda. PloS one, 12(6), p.e0179010.
Pregnancy and birth outcomes have been found to be sensitive to meteorological variation, yet few studies explore this relationship in sub-Saharan Africa where infant mortality rates are the highest in the world. We address this research gap by examining the association between meteorological factors and birth weight in a rural population in southwestern Uganda. Our study included hospital birth records (n = 3197) from 2012 to 2015, for which we extracted meteorological exposure data for the three trimesters preceding each birth. We used linear regression, controlling for key covariates, to estimate the timing, strength, and direction of meteorological effects on birth weight. Our results indicated that precipitation during the third trimester had a positive association with birth weight, with more frequent days of precipitation associated with higher birth weight: we observed a 3.1g (95% CI: 1.0–5.3g) increase in birth weight per additional day of exposure to rainfall over 5mm. Increases in average daily temperature during the third trimester were also associated with birth weight, with an increase of 41.8g (95% CI: 0.6–82.9g) per additional degree Celsius. When the sample was stratified by season of birth, only infants born between June and November experienced a significant associated between meteorological exposures and birth weight. The association of meteorological variation with foetal growth seemed to differ by ethnicity; effect sizes of meteorological were greater among an Indigenous subset of the population, in particular for variation in temperature. Effects in all populations in this study are higher than estimates of the African continental average, highlighting the heterogeneity in the vulnerability of infant health to meteorological variation in different contexts. Our results indicate that while there is an association between meteorological variation and birth weight, the magnitude of these associations may vary across ethnic groups with differential socioeconomic resources, with implications for interventions to reduce these gradients and offset the health impacts predicted under climate change.
Photos of Sarah's Research:
Sincerest congratulations to Laura Jane Weber for winning a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, one of Canada's most prestigious scholarships! Laura Jane is a PhD Candidate in Epidemiology and International Development Studies at the University of Guelph. She is working with Northern partners to explore the role of place in Inuit maternal health and wellness. Her advisory committee includes Drs. Harper, Dewey, Cunsolo, Healey, and Humphries.
Click here to read the news story.
Research Photos of Laura Jane
Congratulations to Stephanie Masina (MSc Candidate) for winning second place in the poster competition at the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses Annual Symposium. Click here to read the OVC Bulletin Story on the Symposium and Stephanie's poster prize.
Carlee graduated with distinction from her BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Guelph in 2014. She then started her MSc in Epidemiology in the Department of Population Medicine (OVC) and earned a 91% average in her coursework. Outside of her coursework, she was a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the graduate-level Epidemiology I course in 2015, a member of the EcoHealth Community of Interest (2014-present), and an active member of the journal club (2014-present). Carlee conducted community-led research on drinking water quality and safety, led by the community of Rigolet (see thesis abstract below). She presented this research at 3 national and 5 international conferences, including 8 poster and 7 oral presentations, many of which were co-presented with Inez Shiwak (an Inuit research associate from Rigolet). To support her research, Carlee won over $62,000 in scholarships and research grants; her research has taken her to Nunatsiavut, Alaska, Oxford, Montreal, and other locales. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Carlee over the past few years; she is a great thinker, writer, and analyst. Congratulations Carlee!
Carlee's Thesis Abstract:
Canadian Inuit have often reported concerns about the quality of their municipal drinking water. This research took an EcoHealth approach to investigate drinking water perceptions and consumption patterns, as well as drinking water contamination and its potential associations with acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Canada. Three census cross-sectional surveys (n=226-246) captured data on AGI, drinking water use, and water storage (2012-2014). Bacterial contamination of household drinking water was assessed alongside the 2014 survey. Concerns regarding taste, smell, and colour of tap water were associated with lower odds of consuming tap water. The use of transfer devices (e.g. small bowls or measuring cups) was associated with household water contamination. No water-related risk factors for AGI were identified. Results of this study are intended to inform safe water management practices, as well as contextually appropriate drinking water interventions, risk assessments, and public health messaging in the Arctic. Click here to access Carlee's Thesis.