Fellows Feature: Emna Ben Jelili & Tim Arthur

Our third cohort of Fellows is nearly halfway through the Population Analytics in an Aging Society training program. This month, they are exploring topics ranging from sex- and gender-based analyses to the integrated policy framework and how to make the most of your PhD experience. In between their busy schedules, we caught up with two of our Fellows to ask about their CAnD3 experience. Read on to learn more about their research and what they hope to achieve during the remainder of the program.

Featured image: Emna Ben Jelili (left) and Tim Arthur (right)

Emna Ben Jelili

Emna is currently involved in a collaborative research project, led by her supervisors Olivier Jacques and Catherine Moury, on the determinants of pandemic preparedness in France. The study employs a within-case comparison to examine and refine existing theories about factors that influence the adoption of pandemic-preventative strategies.

Emna’s interest in prevention-centered policymaking is reflected in her doctoral thesis. She is a PhD student in public health at École de santé publique de l'Université de Montréal. There, Emna is exploring the financing of Québec’s health system with the aim to uncover the political mechanisms that have led the province to invest the least in preventative spending at the pan-Canadian level. “Through an analysis of government data and academic literature, my thesis argues that the majority of health expenditure in Quebec is curative, with very little directed towards preventive measures, despite evidence suggesting that preventive spending can have positive outcomes for both population well-being and public finances,” she explains.

Through her studies in political science and her research mandate for Force Jeunesse—where she is exploring institutions that promote intergenerational equity—Emna acquired considerable knowledge of quantitative methods to analyze public policies and government financing decisions. She chose to train with CAnD3 not only because she wanted to hone her existing data analytics skills but also because of CAnD3’s interdisciplinarity, wide network, and professionalization training. “The complete training offered through this program provides guidance for making informed decisions but also enables the development of communication skills and the expansion of professional networks. I find the program to be both innovative and immensely valuable for my growth as a young researcher,” Emna says.

When she’s not engaged in research, Emna is an avid reader. Her literary passions include the works of Baudelaire and Proust. As a literary-minded individual, Emna has a deep appreciation for prose and the theater. Her love for the arts extends beyond just reading, as she has been involved in the performing arts since the age of 9, with experiences ranging from acting in the Université de Montréal theater troupe to singing in cultural events.

Emna says that the purpose of her research on long-term policies is to strengthen social investment through investments in public health so that we are better equipped to address current and future challenges, pandemic or otherwise.

Learn more about Emna and connect with her.

Tim Arthur

Tim has previously explored how changing technology is reshaping the dating landscape and experiences of gay and bisexual men. Tim’s paper with his colleague Dr. Emily Cabaniss was recently published in the Journal for Social Thought and argued that while virtual intermediaries offer a more open space, they also create new challenges to communication and relationship development.

Tim’s current research focus is on racial disparities in health. Most recently, he examined the ways that the rhetoric of political campaigns can adversely impact the birth outcomes of babies born to racial minority mothers. “I’m passionate about this particular topic because of the historically persistent nature of racial disparities in health in the United States that begin even before birth,” Tim explains.

To pursue this passion, Tim is completing a PhD in Sociology at Florida State University. Three years into his doctoral studies, Tim says what drew him to the CAnD3 fellowship was opportunities to gain skills like R and Python that are crucial to his field of work. “As we approach the halfway point of the fellowship period, I can say enthusiastically that CAnD3 has provided the training I desired and much more. In addition to skills training in software, I have had the opportunity to meet incredible people with diverse research interests and skill sets from all around the world.” As part of the fellowship’s experiential learning program, Tim is also completing an internship with Knowli Data Science, one of CAnD3’s private sector partners.

When he’s not working, Tim enjoys reading, spending time with family, taking his dog for walks and trips to the dog park, watching TV with his partner, and exploring some of the local nature parks around Gainesville, Florida. Tim is pictured here with his youngest niece.

“I hope that, through my research, I can make some contribution toward reducing—and eventually eliminating—racial health disparities. I want to contribute to evidence-based solutions that move us closer to a more equitable society.”

Learn more about Tim and connect with him.

About the training program

The Population Analytics in an Aging Society Training Program is a rigorous one-year fellowship hosted by the Consortium on Analytics for Data-Driven Decision-Making (CAnD3), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and based at McGill University. The program upskills rising researchers in Master's, PhD, and postdoctoral programs in the areas of population data science and computational population social science from a multidisciplinary lens. It also connects Fellows to experiential learning opportunities, which include hands-on research projects and internships with government, not-for-profit, and private sector CAnD3 partners. Since the first year of the program in 2020, CAnD3 has trained 32 Fellows and welcomes 20 new Fellows for the 2022-23 Academic Year.

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