International Women’s Day, taking place on March 8, 2020, is a day to celebrate the various achievements of women around the world and is a call to action for gender parity. This year’s theme is “Each for Equal” to emphasize that each individual has a significant part in working towards a gender equal world.
This year, Lawson is highlighting the different paths for women who are working towards a career in the health sciences. Below are the perspectives from students, physicians and researchers on their contributions to science and medicine.
High school student, Nimrit Aulakh, is completing her co-op placement with Lawson Scientist, Dr. Cheryl Forchuk. Her research focuses on improving mental health care for youth.
“Science has always been of interest to me and has now become significant within my academic endeavours. Part of my desire to become involved in the sciences stemmed from my older sister, who exposed me initially to the research side of science. It is with the help of rationale and logic in science that I can enrich my academic experience. Specifically, I have been working as a co-op student alongside the Mental Health Nursing Research Alliance and learning what it means to be a researcher. During my time, I conducted preliminary analyses on one of their studies, which focuses on improving mental health care for youth through virtual models of care. I will be presenting my findings at the Thames Valley Science and Engineering Fair later this month and if successful, will advance to the Canada Wide Science Fair. This experience has shown me a new side of science, one that I hope that I can continue to be a part of. I realized that through science and research, I can contribute to advancing society. To continue my journey through post-secondary education, I have applied to get my Bachelor’s in Health Sciences. Both within and beyond my four years of undergraduate studies, I hope to continue my contributions in serving the public through scientific research, as well as create an image for girls with the same interests as me, everywhere.”
Romaisa Pervez is a Research Assistant working with Lawson Scientist, Dr. Arlene MacDougall. She recently completed her Master of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University.
“I’m the student lead on a project that’s titled “Building a Sustainable Model and Evaluation for Psychological Rehabilitation in Kenya: An Implementation Study.” I’m working with the CREATE (Community Recovery Achieved Through Entrepreneurism) Kenya team to conduct a study to improve how we deliver, evaluate, and train persons with lived experience or community members to facilitate the Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) Toolkit so it can be locally sustained in Kenya. I’ve travelled to Kenya twice during my Master’s to build relationships with stakeholders and conduct focus groups/interviews. My passion lies in understanding how we can implement upstream initiatives for mental health that are both sustainable and effective. Furthermore, I want to explore how we can find leverage points within the current mental health system in low to middle income countries and create innovative solutions. In the near future, I want to pursue medicine and further my knowledge and build stronger skills in this field.”
Dr. Kelly Anderson is an Associate Scientist at Children’s Health Research Institute, a program of Lawson. She is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University.
“I lead a research program in public mental health research, with a primary focus on young people experiencing a first onset of psychotic disorder. Together with my team, we are investigating the distribution and risk factors for psychotic disorders, prevention in early psychosis, and access to care and utilization of services in first-episode psychosis. My research program is centered around mentorship and training of students from all levels, and I work with trainees to foster high-level skills in the design and analysis of epidemiologic studies using large complex datasets. I am committed to fostering a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion within my research team, and I advocate strongly for gender and early career representation for awards, scientific symposia, and other career opportunities. As a female scientist, I regularly mentor young women, both formally and informally, and due to the focus of my research, I also regularly work with trainees with lived experience of mental disorders. The diverse experiences and perspectives of these students both inspire and inform our work together.”
Dr. Michelle Barton-Forbes is an Associate Scientist at Lawson and a Physician at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) specializing in paediatric infectious diseases. She is also an Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University.
“My research program is focused on the clinical epidemiology of infectious diseases in children, particularly in vulnerable paediatric populations such as neonates and young infants. A secondary area of interest is in bacterial resistance and antimicrobial stewardship. Through engagement in multicentre research and contribution to national guideline development, I am able to make a difference in the management and prevention of common childhood infections nationally. The combination of intense passion for my subspecialty, inquisitive curiosity and a drive to better understand common childhood illnesses is infectious to my students. I motivate my students to excellence by inspiring them to believe in themselves and their ability to make a difference. My students are encouraged and challenged to find answers to unanswered questions and unexplained trends through research. As a proud Canadian and an immigrant from a nation that prides itself in its diversity, I believe that diversity is our strength. The Jamaican national motto “out of many one people” has framed my worldview and has influenced my practice.”
Dr. Eileen Crowley is a Scientist at Lawson and a Pediatric Gastroenterologist at LHSC. She is also an Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University.
“My research interests include pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the genetics of IBD, big datasets, therapeutic drug monitoring clinical trial endpoints and precision medicine. My work has served to be better delineate the genetic phenotype of children with IBD as well as optimizing response to therapy in this age group. I engage students and motivate them to work with enthusiasm! My aim is to create learning opportunities that are active, collaborative and promote learning relationships. Once I have identified a student’s goal, it is easier to share and attain that goal. Within the research setting, I aim to maintain an environment where every student feels accepted, valued and safe. Sharing of ideas creates opportunities whilst also fostering a sense of personal belonging and achievement.”
To learn more about International Women’s Day, visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/.