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Meet Our Alumni: Scott Emerson, MSc


Scott Emerson graduated from the Master of Science (MSc) program at the School of Population and Public Health in early 2018, and is now a Research Coordinator at UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), a collaborative, interdisciplinary research network that focuses on complex early child development (ECD) topics.

“From a career perspective, the most valuable experience at SPPH was the affirmation of my passion for research. “
MSc alumnus Scott Emerson

At HELP, Scott uses the skills he developed as an MSc student to better understand children’s mental health and development. He does everything from analyzing data to disseminating new findings. Currently, Scott is excited about several ongoing immigration-related research studies. He notes that almost 40% of children in Canada are foreign-born or have at least one foreign-born parent, but we know little about what factors might influence their mental health or educational outcomes. These current studies are focusing on linking records from immigration, education, and health datafiles to survey data on children’s well-being. These linked datafiles will allow researchers to better understand which individual- and community-level factors influence children’s well-being, and discover what might improve well-being. The studies will significantly expand current knowledge in the area.

Spatial distribution of common visible minority groups across the Greater Vancouver area. Credit Scott Emerson

The MSc program appealed to Scott because it paired training in epidemiological methods with flexibility to pursue a wide range of health interests. The program enhanced his skills in cleaning, managing, and analyzing data as well as developing his scholarly writing. He and his supervisor were a great fit, and he credits them with motivating him to develop his interests and helping to expand his network by involving him in related research projects.

Scott’s thesis work explored life satisfaction among fourth-grade children across British Columbia. His work was unique in using a large sample of over 20,000 children, including representation of eight different language backgrounds. It is rare to see data of this scale and scope in cross-cultural studies of children. Part of Scott’s thesis work was recently published in the journal Quality of Life Research.

“Leave your comfort zone, take courses on subjects that are unfamiliar, and challenge yourself – apply for that award, submit that manuscript, and ask that question in class. “
MSc alumnus Scott Emerson

Reflecting on his time as a student, Scott encourages current students to take chances and challenge themselves. He enjoyed learning from his peers in the program, and collaborating with others who had educational backgrounds and experiences that were different from his own.