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Featured Interview with the Queen’s University School of Graduate Studies

Friend of the blog Sharday Mosurinjohn recently interviewed me for a profile on the Queen’s University School of Graduate Studies website. The first paragraph of her (very flattering) interview is below, and follow the link provided for the whole thing.

Atif Kukaswadia – AKA Mr. Epidemiology – is here to help you understand the science that’s important to your life. As a PhD candidate in Queen’s Department of Public Health Sciences and a science writer for the Public Library of Science (PLOS) blogs network, Kukaswadia is immersed in creating and reporting on scientific knowledge of direct relevance to the public, and he wants to share the wealth.

Kukaswadia moved to Canada in 2002 with his family from the UK. He started his undergraduate degree in Biology at Carleton University, where he focused on ecology and studied caterpillars, butterflies and mud shrimp. The thing Kukaswadia most enjoyed about ecology was how “everything was interconnected – you never study one squirrel in isolation. You study the whole environment and how elements of the environment interact.”

While he enjoyed Ecology, he realized that studying butterflies and caterpillars wasn’t for him. So he started a second degree in Health Psychology. Using his background in ecology, he began looking at humans the same way he had been trained to look at non-human animals and, specifically, at how the environment affects humans. This combination of interests led him to Queen’s, and the Department of Public Health Sciences.

Click here to continue reading!

Heading to #CPHA13

Ottawa is a beautiful city in the summer - hopefully we'll be able to enjoy it! | Photo credit: Atif Kukaswadia
Ottawa is a beautiful city in the summer – hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy it! | Photo credit: Atif Kukaswadia

Just a short note today – I (Atif) will be heading to the Canadian Public Health Association Conference next week, which is being held in my home town of Ottawa, Ontario. I’ve never been to the CPHA Conference, so I’m looking forward to it.

I’ll be tweeting findings from the conference using the #CPHA13 hashtag, and I’m hoping others will be too. There are a wide range of presentations this year, and I’m excited to hear about all the research that people are doing, as well as the vision that CPHA has for themselves and for their role in promoting public health in Canada.

I’m going to presenting a poster on one of the studies from my PhD titled “A Cross-sectional Analysis of Immigrant Status and Its Relation to Physical Activity Among Canadian Youth.” I’ll be by my poster for the breaks, so drop by Canada Hall 2 to learn all about it.

If you’re attending the conference, leave a comment with details of your own presentation so that other readers can attend your talks. And if you see me at the conference, be sure to say hi!

This was posted simultaneously on PLOS Blogs Public Health Perspectives

Movember ends, but the message lives on

https://i0.wp.com/ca.movember.com/uploads/images/Home/About%20Movember/ABOUT_3.jpg

I’m going to get up onto my soapbox and rant a little.

Friends. Movember is drawing to a close, and I thank you all for your support, financial and otherwise. And for those of you mocking me for growing such a glorious Mo, well, you’re just jealous.

But there’s more to Movember than just growing a Mo.

There’s the issue of Men’s Health, which sometimes gets lost in the messaging. While women are very proactive and supportive of women’s health issues, men have a level of indifference that is concerning and don’t seek out help (see references below). One of the major reasons Bros don’t seek out help is due to embarrassment. Why? Because we’re afraid of being made fun of? Because we figure if we ignore it it’ll “just go away”? Because we don’t want to appear “weak”? The consequences of not seeking help could include cancer, depression or worse. What’s weak about tackling those issues? Those are incredibly tough things to deal with – if anything they require more strength. If you’re a Mo Bro, get your annual physical. Get checked out. Go see the doctor if you need it – don’t wait. Talk to a healthcare professional if you need it, and make an informed decision on your future. Many health issues are curable and treatable if caught early – the longer you wait the worse they can get. For all the Mo Sistas and Mo Bros out there, support your Bros. Mo Bros are likely to put off seeing the doctor and ignore health concerns, but with support this attitude can shift.

We’ve all had a good laugh over this month, and it’s a fun month for sure. But let’s not forget the serious health consequences that this month highlights.

For more information, check the Movember page on Men’s Health Issues.

Thanks to Michelle D for the idea for this post and Vanessa V for feedback.

References:
Tudiver F, Talbot Y. Why don’t men seek help? Family physicians’ perspectives on help-seeking behavior in men. J Fam Pract. 1999 Jan;48(1):47-52.
Winerman, L. Helping men to help themselves. Available online.
Vogel, DL, Heimerdinger-Edwards, SR, Hammer, JH, Hubbard, A. “Boys don’t cry”: Examination of the links between endorsement of masculine norms, self-stigma, and help-seeking attitudes for men from diverse backgrounds. Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 58(3), Jul 2011, 368-382

New Post on Gradifying: Picking A Supervisor and Other Concerns

One of the crucial factors in graduate school success is a good supervisor. While some faculties mandate that you come in with an identified supervisor, others let you start your program and identify a supervisor several months into your degree. Picking a supervisor is a very difficult decision and one that shouldn’t be made lightly.

Sometimes there is an obvious person; especially if you have a defined research interests in mind. However, if you don’t really know, or you have a multitude of interests, your options are quite broad. At that point the question is not “what would you like to study” but “who will give you the best environment to study in.”

I’ll highlight what I think is important to talk about with your potential supervisor, or to at least consider, before you make any decisions. However, everyone has different perspectives, and I encourage you to give your opinions in the comments section below. I’ve also discussed this issue on my other blog (Mr Epidemiology) and I encourage you to take a read of that.

Click here to continue reading!!

Mr Epid goes to Edmonton!

The University of Alberta is hosting the 2012 Canadian Obesity Student Meeting!

No updates this week – I’m going to be at the University of Alberta for the 2012 Canadian Obesity Student Meeting instead. If you’re in Edmonton and are attending, feel free to stop me and say hi (I’ll be the guy with the giant camera), or if you can’t attend, you can follow along on Twitter #COSM12.

I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled updates next week 🙂

Hey Mr Epid! What should I bring to a conference?

It’s conference time! Which means three things: 1) you’re frantically applying to every travel award, scholarship and bursary available to help fund your trip, 2) you’re trying to put together your poster and/or powerpoint at the last minute and 3) if this is your first academic conference, you’re wondering what to bring with you. This post is dedicated to the last point (inspired by Ars and other sites).

I like to pack light at conferences. You spend most of your time shuttling between rooms and the more you have with you, the more you have to worry about. That being said, I like to have the following 7 things with me at every conference:

Here’s my conference loadout. Macbook, iPhone, satchel, USB key, business cards and water bottle 🙂 (item #7 not shown)

Continue reading “Hey Mr Epid! What should I bring to a conference?”

Should Bloggers Publicize Their Own Work?

We’re not as adorable as this kitty, so I don’t know if we can get away with this sort of behaviour.

Science blog royalty SciCurious recently had a post up about whether it was okay for science bloggers to blog about their own work. Travis brought it up on his Science of Blogging site as well, and I started thinking about it.

One of the big issues we struggle with as researchers is getting our research out there, and having people understand not only what we did, but why we did it. While Sci and Travis talked about it in terms of blogging, this isn’t a new issue: Georg Franck wrote about it back in 1999 in terms of promoting your research with the media.

We want the public to know that not only is research important, but that it has practical implications, even if those aren’t apparent immediately. The last thing we want is a repeat of the “Squirrel Sex Research” story that came out in 2006. While publishing in reputable scientific journals is rewarded and encouraged, the lag time between submission and publication can range from 3 months to 2 years. So it makes sense to talk about your work so that the public can understand what you’re doing.

Continue reading “Should Bloggers Publicize Their Own Work?”

A Mr Epid-inar: 3MT – The Three Minute Thesis Contest!

Mr Epid-inar’s are short talks delivered by Mr Epidemiology at various venues; classes, conferences, speaker series’ etc. They should not be confused with the leafy green vegetable (French humour! Le woohoo!)

3MT is a public speaking contest started at the University of Queensland back in 2008. In three minutes, you have to describe your PhD and why it is important. You are judged on your communication style, comprehension and how well you engage the audience. Oh, and you are only allowed one (static) PowerPoint slide. Recently, Queen’s University decided they wanted to host a 3MT contest, and send out an email asking for participants.

Well, that sounds difficult. And a little ridiculous – I’m supposed to condense my PhD into 3 minutes, without any slides, and still do it justice?

Very well. Challenge accepted!

3MT Talk from Mr Epidemiology on Vimeo.

Some thoughts on 3MT. I found the contest to be absolutely incredible. As an audience member, the presentation aspect was fun and novel, and I probably learnt more about what my colleagues were doing in that 90 minute session than I have in the last 2 years I’ve been at Queen’s. The variety of research was great, and because people were told to make it accessible for those outside of their area, they really worked hard and making the concepts clear. I think this, combined with PechaKucha 20×20, are great ways to break up the existing research paradigm and inject some life and energy into conferences.

As a presenter, I found the experience invaluable. Being forced to really ask what is important for the audience to know helped me distill my thesis down to its core components. Also, trying to come up with an exciting and novel way of presenting it was fun. If you have the opportunity to enter a 3MT contest near you, I strongly recommend doing it!! If you’ve been to a 3MT talk, let me know your experiences in the reply!

Special thanks to Anne G, Lindsay K, Kim F, Raymond F, Katie K, Rebecca B, Julia N and the rest of the Clinical Research Centre for their feedback on previous drafts of my 3MT talk. Also thanks to Jess S, Michelle D, Alison Y and all my Epi and Kinesiology friends who showed up to support me on the day. Finally, thanks to Colette Steer and all the organizers and judges of the 3MT contest!

Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi back to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.

How sad.

The negative health effects of sedentary behaviour are a hot topic gaining scientific and popular attention. Any Canadian reading the news should be aware that sitting is killing us – Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC have all recently published on the topic. Given the tsunami-like obesity epidemic that has risen over North America over the past few decades, critical investigation of our sedentary behaviour is highly warranted.

Every time I hear someone talk about how sitting is killing us, I return to the same question – If I was born 50 or 100 years earlier, would I be less sedentary than I am now? In the figure above, I’ve depicted my average 16-hour day (waking hours only). Exemplary of a big question in the sedentary behaviour research domain, I am what you would call an “active couch potato” – I spend 7-8 hours week engaged in moderate-to-vigourous exercise, yet I still spend 50% of my waking hours sitting in front the computer! What does this mean for my health? And yours too – if you are reading this, you are likely somewhat similar to me. Is this sort of sedentary behaviour a new phenomenon of the latter part of 20th and early 21st century? Continue reading “Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time”

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