Program: Master of Science (MSc) in Population and Public Health
Year in Program: 2nd year
Supervisor: Associate Professor Chris Richardson
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
What inspired you to pursue your program?
In the third year of my undergraduate degree at McMaster University, I was able to visit Vancouver in a service-learning trip called “Mac Serve”. The theme of our specific trip was Food (In)Security, and we visited various farms, community gardens, food banks, and community organizations that all play a role in the food system and protecting or advocating for food security. Although my current area of research is not food security, the trip showed how imperative food and nutrition are to human health, their role as social determinants of health, and in a broader sense how we can ignite change at the community level through research.
“Being in this city and realizing all the potential benefits that can manifest through health research made me want to pursue a public health masters at UBC, in Vancouver.”
MSc student Raymond Khanano
What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year?
As daunting as it may be, I am looking forward to eventually completing and defending my thesis. I think after all is said and done, it will be the culmination of my work and a testament to how much I have grown since starting the program (or at the very least something my mom will be proud of and we can put on the fridge at home). One of the reasons I chose this program specifically was that there was a reseach-intensive aspect to it with a strong emphasis on skill development through coursework.
I am also looking forward to returning to the environment of perpetual learning from my peers. Since SPPH attracts scholars from various backgrounds and experience levels there is no shortage of knowledge to be passed on from one person to another.
What’s one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?
If there is ever a point in time where I could only have one condiment (to accompany food) and the choices were ketchup or mustard, I would choose mustard, hands down. Yellow, honey, dijon, grainy, you name it!
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
Always pay extra for guacamole.
Why do you think public health is important?
I think public health is important because it is truly interdisciplinary and incorporates research from various fields to extend knowledge of health and medicine into a population and global perspective. However, in what may be our biggest strength also lies a weakness; given that public health is so broad, at times it may feel like we are grasping at straws to make sense of the numbers on our screen in a real-world context.
“I think this is where public health scientists can truly shine, when they have to appreciate the microscopic aspects of what is happening fundamentally and try to piece together what is happening macroscopically, in society and populations.”
MSc student Raymond Khanano
Who is your public health hero, real, fictional, alive or dead, and why?
If I had to pick just one, I would choose John Snow.
I think the work of John Snow and other founding contributors to the field of Epidemiology is an excellent starting point to show how far the field has come. In everyday conversation, I think we attribute a lot of improvements in human health to better medication and advancements in technology, but we really saw some of the most drastic declines in mortality to basic sanitation and hygiene.
Despite the research methods employed at the time being quite modest relative to those we use today, it exemplifies the importance of basic measures of disease frequency and why they are some of the first skills we learn as Epidemiologists. Not to mention, “SNOW” is engraved on the stairs to the front entrance of SPPH and that is pretty cool too.
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