HEALTH CONNECTIONS: Exploring research. Changing lives.

Health Connections

Health Connections is an online speakers series that showcases the many ways that research in Western's Faculty of Health Sciences is contributing to the betterment of society. Through presentations from researchers in a variety of disciplines, the series highlights how our research is making a difference in the health of people around the world and introduces undergraduate students to the many ways a career in research can change lives.

Inspiring the next generation of health researchers

For undergraduate students who are curious about the role research plays in enhancing human health, or for those who are wondering if a research-based graduate degree might be right for them, our Health Connections Speakers help introduce the world of research and explore the broader concepts and societal issues that can be addressed through health research. Each one-hour session will include a 30-minute presentation on opportunities in different areas of health research and 30-minutes for students to ask questions and learn more about how they might get involved in the research process.

Health Connections Speakers

March 16: Lifelong Mobility for People with Neurological Impairments - Janelle Unger, PhD

Janelle UngerWednesday, March 16 - 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. - via Zoom

An assistant professor in the School of Physical Therapy and a licensed physical therapist, Janelle Unger received a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of Toronto and is currently the Principal Investigator of the RED Neuro Lab (Enhancing Rehabilitation, Experience, and Health Services Delivery for People with Neurological Impairments) at the Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity located within Parkwood Institute. Her research focuses on promoting lifelong mobility for people with various neurological impairments, including spinal cord and brain injuries. Her main interests are optimizing gait and balance to provide the foundation for safe mobility and enhancing access to rehabilitation services that support lifelong activity.

Her presentation will introduce students to the importance of safe mobility and activity for people with chronic neurological impairments. Specifically, she will discuss:

  • The neurological connections involved in gait and balance
  • Current rehabilitation practices and their impact
  • Future ideas for the promotion of lifelong mobility and activity

Zoom link provided upon registration.

March 2: Aging and Engaging in Communities - Carri Hand, PhD

Associate professor Carri Hand explores how we can create engaged communities for older adults.

Wednesday, March 2 - 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. - via Zoom

An associate professor in the School of Occupational Therapy, Carri Hand explores the daily lives of older adults in their neighbourhoods, and how neighbourhoods can act to include and exclude older people. She also works with older adults and others to create inclusive neighbourhoods that support aging in place.

Her presentation will emphasize the importance of exploring daily life among older adults as a key way to examine social justice and social inclusion. Her presentation will cover:

  • How older adults experience inclusion and exclusion in their neighbourhoods in terms of doing community activities, connecting with others, and getting around the neighborhood
  • How older adults are affected by their neighbourhoods as well as take action to influence their neighbourhoods
  • Qualitative and geographical research methods that can be used to unpack neighbourhood life
  • Actions that be taken in research, policy, and practice to support older adults to age well in their communities.

Zoom link provided upon registration.

February 9: Research that Gets People Moving - Leigh Vanderloo, PhD

Postdoctoral associate Leigh Vanderloo discusses the importance of physical activity for children in her Health Connections lecture, Research that Gets People Moving, scheduled for February 9.

Wednesday, February 9 - 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. - via Zoom

A postdoctoral associate in the Child Health and Physical Activity Laboratory, Leigh Vanderloo - @lmvanderloo - holds a PhD in Health Promotion (specializing in pediatric exercise science) from Western University and is an adjunct professor in its School of Occupational Therapy. Her research focuses on the objective measurement of physical activity and sedentary time in young children as well as the creation of activity-promoting environments. She has established a strong track record of evaluating various early learning environments and their ability to support/discourage physical activity and sedentary behaviours.

As Knowledge Translation Manager at ParticipACTION – a national thought leadership organization tasked with helping people in Canada to move more and reduce sedentary behaviours – this cross-appointment permits Leigh to maximize research impact and uptake in the form of knowledge synthesis, dissemination, and exchange with researchers and end-users.

Her presentation will introduce students to the importance of research and practice in the domains of healthy movement behaviours. Specifically, her presentation will examine:

  • Physical activity vs. sedentary behaviours – opposite ends of the same spectrum?
  • Conducting research beyond traditional academic institutions – what does this look like?
  • Maximizing and optimizing the impact of research beyond publications
  • Preparing yourself for success beyond your undergraduate and graduate degrees

Zoom link provided upon registration.

February 1: Ethics, Equity and the Public's Health - Maxwell Smith, PhD

Health Studies professor Maxwell Smith discusses his  Health Connections lecture, Ethics, Equity and the Public's Health, scheduled for February 1.

Tuesday, February 1 - 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. - via Zoom

Bioethicist and School of Health Studies Assistant Professor Maxwell Smith holds a PhD in public health sciences and degrees in philosophy and bioethics. His research examines ethical issues in public heatlh, and specifically issues raised by infectious diseases (e.g., mandatory vaccination, allocating scarce resources, restricting liberties to curb the spread of disease) and how to promote health equity and social justice when addressing such issues.

His presentation will introduce students to the significance of research on ethical issues that emerge in public health policy and practice, including in the context of pandemic response. His presentation will cover:

  • The ethical dimensions of setting priorities for the allocation of scarce resources like vaccines and ICU beds
  • How to ethically balance individual liberties with collective interests (e.g., in relation to vaccination mandates)
  • Different ways in which philosophical accounts of social justice might lead to very different approaches to pursuing 'equitable' health outcomes

Zoom link provided upon registration.

November 24: Physical Activity for Every "Body" - Eva Pila, PhD

Kinesiology professor Eva Pila discusses her  Health Connections lecture, Physical Activity for Every "Body", scheduled for November 24.

Wednesday, November 24 - 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. - via Zoom

School of Kinesiology Assistant Professor Eva Pila holds a PhD in Exercise Science from the University of Toronto and is the Principal Investigator of Western's Body Image and Health Research Lab. Her work seeks to understand relationships between body (in)equity on the basis of shape, size, weight, ability and function, movement-based behaviours including exercise, physical activity, and sport, and mental health, illness, and well-being. A main goal of her research is to develop psychological interventions, currently centred on self-compassion, to promote the health and well-being of individuals in marginalized bodies.

Her presentation will introduce students to the importance of research and practice on body image, movement and health and:

  • Explore what body image is (and what it is not)
  • Examine why body image and body equity are important for health and wellbeing
  • Understand how social experiences in physical activity contexts impact our relationship with the body and self
  • Identify psychological strategies to improve body image, physical activity, and mental health

Zoom link provided upon registration.

November 11: An Introduction to Health Research - Roberta Bgeginski, PhD

Roberta BgeginskiThursday, November 11 - 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. - via Zoom

Faculty of Health Sciences Research Officer Roberta Bgeginski holds a PhD in Medical Sciences from Brazil's Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Western's Exercise and Pregnancy Lab.

Her presentation will introduce students to health-related research, its role in creating a healthier world for all and address topics such as:

  • Gaining research experience as an undergraduate student
  • What it means to be a researcher
  • Choosing a specialized area of study
  • Making connections with graduate supervisors
  • The importance of applying for scholarships