Fellows 2023-24

The fourth cohort of the Population Analytics in an Aging Society Training Program is composed of 22 accomplished Fellows who were competitively selected from CAnD3’s partner higher education institutions. The new cohort comes from diverse backgrounds, with eight in master’s programs, 13 in PhD programs, and one completing postdoctoral training. They bring a range of disciplinary training from political science and geography to gerontology and medicine. Meet them here! 

Circular photo of Fellow Maria Ahmed

Maria Ahmed (she, her, hers)

Current degree: PhD student in Sociology, Western University

Previous degree: MEd, University of Toronto

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Maria Ahmed is a PhD student in the Sociology program at Western University, co-supervised by Dr. Kim Shuey and Dr. Tracey Adams. Her interests are rooted in social and structural inequalities and their impacts on population health and public policy. Maria completed her undergraduate degree in Commerce at Queen’s University with a focus on organizational behaviour. During her master’s degree in Leadership & Policy at the University of Toronto, Maria analyzed how minority populations amass advantages and overcome disadvantages within competitive and institutionalized settings.  

Building on her background on social structures, Maria’s SSHRC-funded doctoral research aims to examine mechanisms of advantages and disadvantages for racialized populations within hospitals. With a focus on structural inequalities and life course theory, Maria hopes to examine policymaking within highly institutionalized settings in times of crises (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), the impacts these policies have on disadvantaged populations, and the pathways by which health capital is acquired over the life course and transmitted intergenerationally.  

As a CAnD3 Fellow, Maria is excited to expand on her understanding of quantitative methods and further develop her data visualization skills. She is also interested in learning how to improve efforts toward knowledge mobilization for overlooked audiences and advance policy change through data-driven research. 

Email Maria at maria.ahmed [at] uwo.ca



Circular photo of Fellow Chris Borst


Chris Borst (they, them, theirs)

Current: PhD Sociology, McGill University

Previous degrees: MA in Philosophy & Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam

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Chris is a PhD student in Sociology. Their undergraduate studies were in Economics at Carleton University, while their graduate studies include Philosophy at the University of Toronto and Erasmus University Rotterdam and Digital Humanities at McGill.

Chris was a policy researcher in municipal government for 14 years, principally supporting Children’s Services. Their current research grows out of that experience. Responding to calls to politicize program evaluation and population monitoring in children’s services, they seek to define the multidimensional ideological “policy space” of childhood using the methods of computational text analysis.

Chris is pleased to be joining CAnD3 and is looking forward to expanding their repertoire of advanced statistical and machine learning techniques, learning from national and international agencies (and Fellows!), and undertaking new policy research projects.

Outside of academia, Chris’ interests include kayaking and canoeing, dancing, the performing arts, craft beer, speculative fiction, and table-top role-playing games.



Circular photo of Fellow Gwenaelle De Clifford-Faugère


Gwenaelle De Clifford-Faugère (she, her, hers)

Current: Postdoctoral Fellow in pharmacoepidemiology, l'Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Previous degrees: PhD in nursing, Université de Montréal

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Gwenaelle De Clifford-Faugère is a postdoctoral CIHR fellow in pharmacoepidemiology at the Chaire de recherche en épidémiologie de la douleur chronique at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. She completed a PhD in nursing at the Université de Montréal (Canada) and a PhD in health biology, specializing in clinical research and public health at Aix-Marseille Université (France – joint thesis).

Since graduating as a registered nurse in France in 2011, she has been highly involved in population health promotion. Her research interests focus on chronic pain, from neonatology patients to the elderly. She is currently working with the medico-administrative data of the TorSaDE Cohort (longitudinal health and prescription drug insurance claims). This project aims at modelling trajectories in chronic pain patients allowing the investigation of specific sub-populations (socio-demographic determinants such as sex and gender, employment status, and region of residence).

As a CAnD3 fellow, she would like to improve her skills in quantitative methods and learn how population data science methods can be leveraged in decision-making and policy.



Circular photo of Fellow Tara Henry


Tara Henry (she, her, hers)

Current degree: PhD in Sociology, Florida State University

Previous Degree: MSc in Sociology, Florida State University

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Tara Henry is a Doctoral candidate in the Sociology Department at Florida State University.

Her research focuses on gender-based health disparities across the life course, with an emphasis on beauty and beauty work as avenues through which gender and age discrimination manifest. Her previous work examines the impact of beauty work on the mental health of adolescent girls.

Tara's dissertation research has a primary focus on the entanglement of appearance, health, and the work performed to maintain each. The goal of her research is to incorporate beauty processes into our understanding of population health and aging to ultimately shape social interventions related to beauty norms.

Before graduate school, Tara worked for a state-level domestic and sexual violence research coalition where her team communicated survivor needs to various stakeholders, including advocates, activists, and policymakers. In this role, she also created county-level demographic reports and infographics.

As a CAnD3 Fellow, Tara looks forward to expanding her knowledge, skills, and networks to begin her career as a data-driven decision-maker.



Circular photo of Fellow Xinyao Huang


Xinyao Huang (she, her, hers)

Current: MA in Quantitative Methods, Columbia University

Previous degrees: BA in sociology, East China University of Science and Technology

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Hi, my name is Xinyao Huang. You can call me Xinyao for short. I just finished my bachelor's degree in sociology at East China University of Science and Technology, and I am going to start my MA in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences at Columbia University in September! I am interested in the combination of data and social science as well as healthcare analytics, and I hope to work in the healthcare industry after graduation. Specifically, my major thesis explores the needs of the elderly for smart healthcare services and the influencing factors. I also have a strong passion for gender issues.

Some things you might want to know about me are:
One, I am deeply attracted to machine learning and deep learning skills, and I have recently been learning about computer vision. Two, I minored in English during my undergraduate study. I am learning Spanish right now! Three, I love traveling and cycling. Great way to relax at weekends!



Circular photo of Fellow Regan Johnston


Regan Johnston (she, her, hers)

Current: PhD student in Political Science, McMaster University

Previous degrees: MSc in International Relations, University of Glasgow

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Regan Johnston is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. Her research explores the relationship between hate crime legislation and prejudicial attitudes in the United States and Canada using a mixed methods approach.

Regan holds a MSc (Merit) in International Relations from the University of Glasgow and a BA in Political Science from McGill University. She has experience in computational methods, holding a certificate in Data Analytics, Big Data, and Predictive Analytics from Toronto Metropolitan University and completed training at the University of Michigan's Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research. Most recently, she attended Oxford University’s Media Policy Summer Institute, an intensive interdisciplinary program that studies technology and policy.

As a computational social scientist, Regan hopes to use the CAnD3 program to advance her statistical methods skills in population data science and to hone her communication skills to explain complex data analyses to a wide range of audiences.



Circular photo of Alexander Lam


Alexander Lam (he, him, his)

Current: MSc Geography, McGill University

Previous degrees: BSc Environment, McGill University

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Alexander is currently pursuing a master's degree at the Bieler School of Environment and the Department of Geography at McGill University under the supervision of Dr. Raja Sengupta. His primary research interests lie in the field of urban climatology and its intersection with human well-being.

Alexander’s research aims to leverage the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and Machine Learning to develop innovative methodologies for mapping and modelling urban heat distribution and urban heat islands at the neighbourhood scale. The ultimate objective of his work is to translate his quantitative work into valuable insights that can inform and guide policy decisions related to urban heat mitigation and urban development.

As a CAnD3 fellow, Alexander is motivated to expand his understanding of population dynamics in order to further contextualize his research within the broader themes of socio-demographic inequality, population health, and well-being. This will enable him to gain a comprehensive perspective and insights on how to effectively translate his research findings into impactful public policy measures. Furthermore, Alexander looks forward to gaining meaningful experience through the program's experiential learning opportunities, where he has the chance to apply his research work and CAnD3 training in practical settings.



Circular photo of Anne-Charlotte Latour


Anne-Charlotte Latour (she, her, hers)

Current: PhD in Health and Society, Université du Québec à Montréal

Previous degrees: MSc in Economics, Université du Québec à Montréal

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As a fourth-year French doctoral student in interdisciplinary health and society at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), I am particularly interested in the fields of health economics, microeconomics, and social epidemiology. My first thesis essay focuses on economic mobility and the determinants of health, education, well-being, and child development in Canada. For almost two years, I have been working at Statistics Canada as an assistant analyst at the Quebec Interuniversity Centre for Social Statistics (QICSS). Since January, I have been employed as a consultant at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) to develop econometric simulation tools related to the cost of care pathways and services in perinatology. Through this program, I would like to acquire new knowledge to better equip myself for future projects that I will undertake within the CHUM, such as end-of-life care pathways. I also hope to meet knowledgeable people with whom I can exchange. I also hope that they will be patient with me since English is not my strong point. However, this could lead to unintended humour and make you laugh. 



Circular photo of Pratik Mahajan


Pratik Mahajan (he, him, his)

Current: MA in Political Science, Development Studies concentration, McGill University

Previous degrees: BA (First Class Honours) in Philosophy, McGill University

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Pratik Mahajan is affiliated as a student researcher with the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship (CSDC) and the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) at McGill. Pratik came to Canada from India as an undergraduate student, and his work continues with an India focus. His MA thesis explores the electoral behaviour and development outcomes for Scheduled Tribes in Western India. Through an original conjoint survey experiment and semi-structured interviews in 30 Bhil tribe villages, Pratik seeks to explain the electoral shift of the Bhils toward India's current ruling Bhartiya Janata Party. Pratik aspires to continue on to PhD programs in Political Science after his master's at McGill.

Pratik is also an avid biker and often delivers food on his bike as a side gig. He enjoys indoor climbing. He also plays the Djembe, a percussion from Western Africa, and performs jazz and R&B music outdoors with his bandmates called Pineapple Blues. He is also a self-declared cinema buff and appreciates the stories and experiences he has on the big screen.



Circular phot of Kate Marr-Laing


Kate Marr-Laing (she, her, hers,he, him, his, they, them, theirs)

Current: MA in Political Science, McGill University

Previous degrees: BA in Political Science and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, McGill University

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Kate Marr-Laing is a master’s student in the Department of political science at McGill University. Working under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Béland, Kate is researching how the needs of a fast-evolving society are understood and communicated to decision-makers through non-profit advocacy networks.

Kate is part of an interdisciplinary team at Concordia University’s engAGE: Centre for Research on Aging, where they study how municipal and provincial policy design can better support community-based organizations working to combat social isolation and loss of autonomy among older adults in Tiohtià:ke / Montreal. Kate has experience working in advocacy and anti-oppressive service provision within the community sector and is invested in policy-driven research that brings visibility to the social care work required to sustain community health.

Kate is passionate about mobilizing research for public education and policy change and looks forward to further developing their skills in data science and computational social science to support this pursuit as a CAnD3 Fellow.



Circular photo of Bertram Melix


Bertram Melix (he, him, his)

Current: PhD candidate, Florida State University

Previous degrees: MSc GIS, Florida State University

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Bert Melix is a PhD candidate at Florida State University. His research utilizes spatial and non-spatial statistical methodologies, along with GIS techniques, to evaluate the influence of the social and built environment on health and well-being. His past research has investigated the relationship between life expectancy and the social determinants of health across census tracts in Florida, analyzed determinants of COVID-19 cases and deaths in U.S. nursing homes, and quantified displacement risk pressures for inland communities that are likely to experience climate gentrification. Presently, his work is focused on understanding the challenges associated with the calculation of small-area health metrics in response to the U.S. Census Bureau's implementation of differential privacy.

Bert received an MS GIS degree from Florida State University in 2018. He works with a local consulting firm that produces redistricting plans for cities, municipalities, and counties in Florida.

He is excited to have the opportunity to learn from and contribute to the diverse, multidisciplinary community that CAnD3 offers. He would like to refine his communication and data visualization skills enabling him to articulate his research findings more effectively to both academic and non-academic audiences.



Circular photo of Shannon Mok



Shannon Mok (she, her, hers, they, them, theirs)

Current: PhD in Sociology, University of Western Ontario

Previous degrees: MA in Sociology, University of Western Ontario

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Shannon is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests are in the labour market outcomes of various groups, with a focus on intersectionality. Her dissertation will focus on the labour market outcomes of sexual minorities and gender-diverse individuals in Canada from an intersectional perspective. Shannon utilizes quantitative methods, using population-level survey data and administrative datasets to conduct her research.

By participating in the CAnD3 training program, Shannon is excited to advance her skills in quantitative research methods and knowledge mobilization. She also looks forward to networking with those in the academic, government, not-for-profit, and private sectors.



Circular phot of Stephen Ogbodo


Stephen Ogbodo (he, him, his)

Current degree: PhD in Epidemiology, McGill University

Previous: MA in Public Health, University of Glasgow

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Stephen is a PhD student of Epidemiology at McGill University. Building on his background in clinical pharmacy, he obtained a Master of Public Health from the University of Glasgow, with a focus on epidemiology. His research interests include the drivers of health and disease in contemporary ageing populations.

His MPH thesis applied time-trend ecological analysis to evaluate the impact of the WHO’s MPOWER tobacco control policies on tobacco use in Africa between 2007 and 2018. For his PhD thesis, Stephen will assess the comparative effectiveness of current treatments for obesity – a crucial global health problem of the 21st century. This research will involve the use of population-based medical administrative data and explore the modifying effects of sex and ethnicity.

By participating in the prestigious CAnD3 fellowship, Stephen hopes to advance his data visualization and analysis skills, as well as expand his network of like-minded public health researchers.



Circular phot of Victoria Ramirez


Victoria Ramirez (she, her, hers)

Current: MA in Geography, McGill University

Previous degrees: BA in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Built Environments, University of Arizona

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Victoria Ramirez is a second-year Master's student in the Department of Geography at McGill University. Previously, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Built Environments at the University of Arizona and has experience working in private and non-profit industries.

Currently, she works in McGill's Transportation Lab under Kevin Manaugh in collaboration with Mobilizing Justice, a group tasked with defining equity standards and guidelines for providing transportation infrastructure across Canada. She uses advanced statistical modelling techniques to measure the relationships between the aging population’s socioeconomic characteristics and transportation behaviour with their health and well-being outcomes. She was also awarded SHHRC funding to support her research on older Canadians' travel behaviour and its impact on healthy aging.

As a CAnD3 Fellow, Victoria will expand her quantitative data analysis and visualization skills with a focus on aging populations to support interdisciplinary collaboration and decision-makers. In addition, she looks forward to working with fellows and connecting with the program's international partners.



Circular phot of Aida Parnia


Aida Parnia (she, her, hers, they, them, theirs)

Current: PhD student in Sociology, University of Toronto

Previous degrees: MA Sociology, University of Toronto

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Aida Parnia (she/they) is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on health inequalities in Canada and measuring the impact of structural oppression. She is interested in understanding how migration and racialization determine health and well-being and how these relationships change over time.

Prior to studying Sociology, Aida received a Master's of Public Health and has worked in the Public Health sector in areas related to environmental and social epidemiology. She is also a recipient of SSHRC’s Canada Graduate Scholarship for Doctoral Programs.

As a CAnD3 fellow, Aida looks forward to becoming familiar with other computational and statistical methods and learning from other scholars interested in Population science. Outside of her academic pursuit, Aida enjoys ensuring her plants are thriving.



Circular phot of Carlos Arturo Ramirez Hernandez


Carlos Arturo Ramirez Hernandez (he, him, his)

Current: PhD candidate in Demography, University of Montreal

Previous degrees: MA in Demography, University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne)

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Carlos worked as an advisor to the general direction of the National Administrative Department of Statistics DANE (NSO Colombia), coordinating the internal working group on Poverty (Monetary Poverty and Multidimensional Poverty Index) and the internal working group on SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

Carlos also worked in Population Projections and Demographic Analysis of DANE, estimating, analyzing and interpreting fertility and providing advice on mortality, migration and population projections. At DANE, Carlos oversaw defining the methodology for estimating the structure and level of fertility, a methodology that is currently implemented by DANE and is documented and published.

Finally, Carlos worked at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Colombia in Population and Development, analyzing and interpreting the interaction of fertility, mortality, migration and population projections with gaps in sexual and reproductive health (including family planning), gender-based violence and the structure of the population (young and elderly population).



Circular photo of Megan Skowronski


Megan Skowronski (she, her, hers)

Current: PhD in Sociology, Florida State University

Previous degrees: MSc in Sociology, Florida State University

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Megan Skowronski is a Sociology PhD Student at Florida State University under the supervision of Dr. Patricia Homan. Her research area lies at the intersection of health, aging, race/ethnicity, economic stratification, public policy and social service provisions in the US. Her previous work identifies specific household domains of financial precarity which serve as barriers to health-relevant resources, namely medication adherence for older adults.

Within her doctoral studies, Megan's primary focus is on understanding associations between spatiotemporal changes in welfare systems, redistributive social policies, and population health. To gain a comprehensive understanding of this area, she adopts a multidisciplinary approach, drawing upon sociology, gerontology, epidemiology, public health, and economics, both in theory and methodology.

As a CAnD3 Fellow, Megan is excited to participate in the program's experiential learning opportunities and expand her data science and policy mobilization skills to integrate into her dissertation work.



Circular photo of Rebecca Stewart


Rebecca Stewart (she, her, hers)

Current: PhD in Sociology, University of Western Ontario

Previous degrees: MA in Sociology, York University; BA in Sociology, Southeast University

Location: Canada

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Rebecca Stewart is a second-year Master’s student in the Department of Geography at McGill University. She completed her Bachelor of Arts at McGill University (2022), majoring in Geography (Urban Studies) while minoring in History and Anthropology. Her current research centers on how speculative urban developments in the Gulf Cooperation Council states fit into their ambitious 2030/2035 ‘Visions,’ which primarily focus on sustainable development and economic diversification.

Given that Rebecca primarily uses qualitative methods for her thesis project at the Master’s level, she is excited to work with CAnD3 fellows and partners to expand her knowledge and skills in quantitative methods. Additionally, through CAnD3, she hopes to gain research-to-decision-making skills and meaningfully apply them to urban planning and public policy.



Circular phot of Callie Thomson


Callie Thomson (she, her, hers)

Current: MA in Family Studies and Gerontology, Mount Saint Vincent University

Previous degrees: BSc in Biology, University of Prince Edward Island

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Callie Thomson is a Master’s student at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), where she is currently entering her second year in the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology. Previously, she graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) with a BSc in Biology, Specialization in Life Sciences, and Minors in Biomedical Physics and Psychology.

Currently, Callie holds a Research Assistant position at the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging, where she is involved with projects surrounding a systematic review of caregivers within the province.

Callie has a great interest in the aging population, long-term care, quality of life, and the medical field. She is thrilled about the opportunities the CAnD3 Fellowship will provide her with and is excited to expand her knowledge, understanding, and skills in data analysis, policy, and research. She anticipates that her experience as a CAnD3 Fellow will guide and assist her in making positive, real-world changes.



Circular photo of Bavisha Thurairajah


Bavisha Thurairajah (she, her, hers)

Current: MA Geography, McGill University

Previous degrees: BA Honours International Development, McGill University

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Bavisha is a Master’s student in the Department of Geography at McGill University. She began her MA program in Fall 2022 after completing her BA in International Development with a minor in Health Geography. Her research focuses on housing as a social determinant of health and its relation to healthy aging and "aging in place."

During her MA, Bavisha will examine how various housing characteristics impact the well-being of older adults across rural and urban environments in Canada. Her thesis builds on previous research that acknowledges the notion that housing needs may change and evolve over time as people age. This may be a step in ensuring healthy housing where older Canadians can “age in place” for a longer period of time.

Bavisha believes that being part of the 2023-24 CAnD3 Fellows cohort would be a wonderful opportunity to build on existing methodological and professional skills in a collaborative setting. The training program in population dynamics and data science will coincide with the period during which she will be conducting statistical analysis for her thesis. She also hopes to learn how to better communicate the results of her research to those who are in decision-making positions and lay audiences.



Circular photo of Leigh-Ann Waldropt-Bonair


Leigh-Ann Waldropt (she, her, hers)

Current: PhD student in Sociology, University of Alberta

Previous degrees: MA in Philosophy in Sociology, University of the West Indies

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Leigh-Ann Waldropt-Bonair is a first-year Sociology PhD student at the University of Alberta from the island of Trinidad and Tobago, in the Caribbean. Her study interests include labour migration, irregular migration, substance use disorders, aging, food security, and climate change. She also worked as a Research Consultant before embarking into doctoral studies, and employed both quantitative and qualitative methodologies in research projects with a number of organizations such as the ACP Observatory on Migration, the ACP-EU Migration Action; International Organization for Migration (IOM), EU-COPOLAD, OAS-CICAD and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). Additionally, she was the Lead Consultant for the 2013 published work entitled “Invisible Immigrants: A profile of irregular migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons in Trinidad and Tobago,” (ACP Observatory on Migration and IOM: Geneva), and she conducted qualitative research on human trafficking and migrant smuggling in select Caribbean islands.

Apart from this, she volunteers at Vitas House, Cancer Hospice in Trinidad and Tobago and enjoys cycling, swimming, badminton, and spending quality time with her family and friends.




Khandideh Williams (she, her, hers)

Current degree: PhD student in Family Medicine and Primary Care, McGill University

Previous degree: MSc Family Medicine, McGill University

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Khandideh Williams is a PhD student in the Family Medicine and Primary Care program at McGill University. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Microbiology and Immunology. Committed to addressing racial disparities in health outcomes and healthcare experiences, Khandideh successfully fast-tracked from her master’s program to the doctoral program in the winter 2022 semester. Her doctoral research seeks to investigate racial disparities and perceived anti-Black racial discrimination in Canadian primary health care. Her endeavours also include the development of clinical strategy and health care policy recommendations towards improving the quality of health care experiences among Black communities and other racialized groups in Canada.

Khandideh’s passion for working with and advocating for marginalized groups also extends to her community and academic undertakings. For instance, she is the co-founder of the Graduate Programs equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) committee within McGill’s Department of Family Medicine, where she is co-leading the development of several novel initiatives to improve the experiences of the department’s students, staff, and faculty members. As a CAnD3 fellow, she is aiming to hone her data science and population research skills, particularly in programming, statistical modelling, and data visualization.



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