Home Site Map Search Members Only Contact Us
Home arrow About Us arrow Students
Students

The Urban Health Research Initiative provides an exceptional research environment for promising undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students. Meet the outstanding trainees currently working with us:

Cody Callon Kanna HayashiRyan McNeilGregory Slawson
Kora DeBeck Chelsea Himsworth M-J MilloyWill Small
Nadia Fairbairn Andrea KrüsiMichaela MontanerLianping Ti
Danya Fast Tara Lyons
Lindsey RichardsonDan Werb

Cody Callon, BA, is a master's student in the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia and coordinator of community-based research at UHRI. He has worked for UHRI since 2004, performing front-line data collection for the VIDUS, ACCESS, and ARYS cohorts. Cody’s research areas of interest include structural and environmental determinants of health, grassroots community development, and popular education. His masters research is a collaboration with the VANDU Injection Support Team evaluating their user-led educational campaign promoting safer injecting. His current work is focused on the development of a community-based public education strategy focused on HIV and hepatitis C testing, treatment, and disease monitoring among people who inject drugs.

Kora DeBeck, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow with UHRI. Kora completed her doctoral degree in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia in 2010. She also has a master’s degree in Public Policy from Simon Fraser University and has field experience as an intern in Kigali, Rwanda, providing administrative and coordination support for the development of a genocide memorial museum. Kora has published in many areas of illicit drug policy, including policing, incarceration, public drug use, income generation and emerging risks for HIV among people who injects drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Her dissertation research focused on drug-related street disorder and the potential for structural policy initiatives in the areas of housing, employment and drug consumption facilities to address the health and social impacts of this policy problem. Kora’s postdoctoral training is co-supervised by Dr. Evan Wood (UHRI, University of British Columbia) and Dr. Chris Beyrer (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Nadia Fairbairn, BSc, is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Ottawa. Her previous work as a research assistant with UHRI examined the social and environmental factors that contextualize risk behaviours among injection drug users. Nadia was also project coordinator for a community-based research project involving drug users at Mitsampan Harm Reduction Center in Bangkok, Thailand. The title of this project is "HIV Risk Behaviours and Access to Harm Reduction and Treatment Services among Injection Drug Users in Thailand." Her interests include the use of novel community-based approaches to guide health policy in urban settings.

Danya Fast, MA, is a doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia and the coordinator of youth ethnographic studies at UHRI. She has a master's degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam, and has worked previously in Tanzania and Vietnam. Danya received a New Investigators Award from the Canadian Association for HIV Research for her work exploring young people's experiences with drug use and violence in the context of the downtown Vancouver drug scene. Her current project, "Place and experiences of risk among young drug users in downtown Vancouver," is supported by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee Award.

Kanna Hayashi, MIA, MPH, is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program (ISGP) at the University of British Columbia. After working for the Embassy of Japan in Vienna, Austria and for the Secretariat for the seventh International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, Kanna completed double masters degrees in International Affairs and Public Health at Columbia University in New York City. Kanna also worked as IDU research intern with UNAIDS in Thailand and as consultant for Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS/Global Business Coalition in Russia. She is currently coordinating the Mitsampan Community Research Project in Bangkok, Thailand, and the topic of Kanna’s research is “Drug law enforcement and public health: Experiences of people who inject drugs in Thailand.” Kanna’s doctoral studies are supported through a UBC Four Year Doctoral Fellowship.

Chelsea G. Himsworth, DVM, MVetSc, Dipl ACVP, is a veterinarian and veterinary pathologist who is currently pursuing a PhD through the UBC School of Population and Public Health. Her main area of research is the ecology and epidemiology of zoonotic diseases (infectious diseases transmissible between animals and people). She is particularly interested in zoonotic diseases associated with urban wildlife, specifically rats. Her current project is focused on understanding whether rats pose a health risk to people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and how this risk can be monitored and mitigated. Chelsea is a recipient of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Bridge Strategic Training Fellow.

Andrea Krüsi, MSc, PPH, is a member of the qualitative UHRI research team and a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia. Andrea has a master's degree in Population and Public Health from Simon Fraser University, where she was awarded the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal for Academic Excellence. Andrea is also the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Doctoral Research Award – Canada Graduate Scholarship. Andrea’s research seeks to bring together theoretical perspectives from public health, sociology and medical anthropology in examining the perspectives of marginalized individuals on various social, structural, and environmental determinants of health. Her doctoral research will focus on the social and structural barriers to HIV treatment and care among individuals with a history of injection drug use.

 Tara Lyons, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow with UHRI and GSHI. Tara completed her doctoral degree in Sociology at Carleton University in 2012 and is a founding member and former executive director of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP). For her dissertation she conducted a two-year critical ethnography in Ottawa's drug treatment court. Her analysis demonstrated how the discourses of addiction and treatment practices of the court blur the boundaries between punishment and therapy and erase gender and structural factors of drug use. Tara’s postdoctoral research focuses on how sexuality and gender identity affect violence and HIV transmission among sex workers and people who use drugs in Vancouver. Her postdoctoral training is co-supervised by Dr. Thomas Kerr and Dr. Kate Shannon and is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Ryan McNeil, MPhil, is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia and qualitative health researcher at UHRI. He completed a master’s degree in Policy Studies at the University of New Brunswick and has worked as a researcher in a variety of community health settings. Ryan’s previous work explored the delivery of palliative care services to people who are homeless, with a focus on those who use drugs. His current project explores the social, structural, and spatial factors that shape access to health care services, and in particular harm reduction programs, for people who use drugs in Vancouver. Ryan is supported by a University of British Columbia Four-Year Fellowship and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral award.

M-J Milloy, PhD, is the research coordinator of ACCESS, an ongoing prospective cohort of HIV-positive individuals who use illicit drugs, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on identifying the social and structural factors associated with HIV disease progression and suboptimal HAART outcomes among drug users. During his five years with UHRI, he has authored more than a dozen articles on topics including incarceration and the risk of HIV infection, patterns of fatal overdose, and the effects of Insite, Vancouver's supervised injection facility. His post-doctoral training is supported by awards from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Michaela Montaner, BA, is a master’s student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia and a research assistant with UHRI. She is responsible for coordinating and evaluating UHRI communications efforts promoting evidence-based illicit drug policy nationally and internationally. Michaela’s research interests focus around the impacts of health communications and knowledge translation in the contexts of print and social media and health policy development. Her current research focuses on the portrayal of Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection facility, in the mainstream media over the last decade. Michaela has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of British Columbia.

Lindsey Richardson, DPhil, is a post-doctoral research fellow at UHRI and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Lindsey’s quantitative and qualitative research focuses on socio-economic and structural influences on risk behaviour, health outcomes, and vulnerability among marginalized populations. Her work emphasizes the role of employment, income generation and socio-economic conditions in the prevalence and experience of drug- and HIV-related harm, access to social and health services and burden of disease. She is also currently exploring the role of social and structural interventions in mitigating HIV- and drug use-related health risks. Lindsey holds master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Oxford, where she was a Trudeau Foundation Scholar. Her postdoctoral training is supported by an award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

 Will Small, PhD, is an ethnographer and a postdoctoral fellow with UHRI. Will coordinates the qualitative and ethnographic research program UHRI, and for the past 5 years he has conducted fieldwork examining the health of injection drug users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. In 2010 he completed his doctoral research in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia. Will has recently begun his Postdoctoral training, which will take place in Vancouver and Sydney, Australia, and will be co-supervised by Dr. Thomas Kerr (UHRI, University of British Columbia) and Dr. Lisa Maher (National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales). Funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research supports Will’s Postdoctoral research project.

Gregory Slawson is attending UBC and is a candidate for a master's degree in nursing. He is working with Dr. Thomas Kerr on a project looking at adherence to HAART in the ACCESS cohort among individuals using cannabis. He has been involved in HIV-related nursing care for the past four years and has worked with VIDUS, ACCESS and Insite. Gregory currently works at the CfE’s Immunodeficiency Clinic (IDC) at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Lianping Ti, BSc, is a recent master of public health graduate from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. She discovered an interest working in urban health after spending a summer as a drug demand reduction intern at UNODC in Thailand. Lianping is currently working as assistant project manager with UHRI on the Mitsampan Community Research Project in Bangkok, Thailand. Her research interests include the use of community-based approaches to inform policies and practices, as well as improving access to health and harm reduction services among people who use drugs through peer-based methods.

Dan Werb, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow with UHRI and the Division of Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. He is also the research coordinator for the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. His current research focuses on transitions into and out of injection drug use, illicit drug markets, and the effect of drug law enforcement on public health. He is a former research fellow at the Senlis Council, a European drug policy lobby group, and has worked as a journalist reporting on drug policy and public health. His postdoctoral research is supported by the Trudeau Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.