Congratulations to Dr. Colleen Davison and Dr. Mira Johri for receiving the annual Vic Neufeld Mentorship Award in Global Health Research. The award was presented by the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research on October 26, 2020 in honour of its founding National Coordinator, Vic Neufeld, who is considered a leader in the development of mentorship opportunities and structures for global health researchers worldwide.
Dr. Colleen Davison is an Associate Professor of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. As a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Doctoral Scholar, Dr. Davison obtained her PhD in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary (2007). Prior to this, Dr. Davison completed a Master of Public Health at the University of Glasgow, Scotland (2000) and undergraduate degrees in Natural Science, Outdoor Recreation and Education at Lakehead University (1995; 1996). Her research interests include global health, child and adolescent health, and the protection of child rights internationally. She combines quantitative, qualitative, and community-based participatory methodologies to understand experiences of children and families in adversity, especially focusing on children in remote communities. In 2001, Dr. Davison undertook a CIDA-funded appointment at the WHO/PAHO regional office in the Dominican Republic and has experience working as a consultant with UNICEF-Mongolia, the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, Canadian Nurses Association, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. She has sat on the Boards of the Canadian Public Health Association, the Youth Science Foundation of Canada, and the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research.
Many students and colleagues have been influenced by Dr. Davison’s mentorship over the years. Her colleagues at Queen’s University elaborate on her involvement with the ARCH trainee support program: “Since its establishment in 2016, Dr. Davison has been a driving force behind the integration of the ARCH trainee support program into ARCH activities as a whole. This program brings together students from a range of backgrounds, disciplines, and program levels (undergraduate through to post-doctoral) to engage monthly with key topics related to global health and equity. (…) Over the last four years, Colleen, both in her own presentations to this group and in the facilitation and support of the other group activities, has pushed students to be critical, equity-focused global health researchers, and has supported and enabled them to see how they can meaningfully integrate the CCGHR’s principles into their studies and future plans. She regularly supports students to have hands-on, practical global health research experience, facilitating placements and connections to the community for students in the Canadian North, Lebanon, Myanmar, Thailand, and Mongolia, for example.”
One particular student describes how she benefitted from Dr. Davison’s support: “My admiration for Colleen continued to grow as we began working on our research project exploring drivers of child marriage among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Being the only Lebanese citizen on our Canadian team, I had some trepidation about how cultural barriers and geopolitical sensitivities would be navigated. However, all my fears were quickly abated as I saw Colleen steer through all barriers. She was a role model on how to develop a compassionate and culturally sensitive approach to research. Furthermore, she maintained the same safe space for reflection and debriefing she fostered in our global health course throughout my time on the project.”
Dr. Mira Johri is a Professor in the Department of Health Management, Evaluation and Policy at the University of Montreal School of Public Health and Principal Scientist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). She is also Director of the global health track for the Master of Public Health at the University of Montreal. Her research seeks to better understand the social and structural determinants of child health in low- and middle-income countries and to identify innovative approaches to address key challenges limiting children’s potential. Dr. Johri obtained her BA and PhD in Ethics and Political Philosophy from McGill University (1990; 1998) and her Masters in Public Health from Yale University (1998). Dr. Johri has worked as an advisor or consultant for international organizations such as the World Health Organization and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She currently sits on the Boards of The Association of Yale Alumni in Public Health and the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research.
One student describes Dr. Johri’s commitment to mentorship: “In the fall semesters of 2019 and 2020, Mira offered me to work directly with her as a teaching assistant for a master-level course in Global Health at the University of Montreal. This opportunity provided me with an experience that I never imaged myself into. As my supervisor, Mira provides me with the freedom to suggest new material and approaches of teaching and allows me to be as creative as I would like in this role. I believe this to be a great strength in a mentor: to allow for the mentee to be independent and grow, while still being there when it is needed.”
Another student adds: “Dr. Johri’s responsiveness, positive attitude, caring for the professional and academic development of everyone around her, and pursuit of projects that aim to make a difference in the world are emblematic of her person. She is a professor who builds profound relationships with students, and I will consider her a mentor for many years to come.”
Dr. Johri has also provided support to numerous students interning abroad. One student recalls, “It was through my many conversations with Dr. Johri that I was able to pinpoint what I wanted to do with my internship. Getting the opportunity to work on a randomized control trial dealing with immunization in rural India was fascinating to say the least. More importantly, it has permitted me to apply the theoretical knowledge I acquired in class to the real world. I must also mention that through Dr. Johri’s initiative, all students interning abroad were granted scholarships (in my case the Queen Elizabeth Scholars). Evidently, this support played a critical role in making such an incredible opportunity possible.”