Experts: COVID-19

News

Published: 20Oct2020

Quebecers are asked to continue abiding by public health measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, but are also urged to take care of their mental health and check in on people who live alone as the second wave of the pandemic continues.  Premier François Legault said the priority is to keep schools open as the province reported 877 new infections, 12 more deaths and 33 additional patients in hospital on Tuesday, October 20. “The number of new cases has stabilized around 1,000 a day but we still see an increase in hospitalizations and deaths,” he said. (Global News)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Featured expert - Mental health

COVID-19 has placed limits on socializing and other activities that can foster positive mental health. As such, individuals may need to engage in innovative activities to reduce stress and promote their own mental health. Importantly, a large corpus of research indicates that outdoor activity and contact with nature can foster positive mental health, and even facilitate recovery from mental illness. Hence, getting outdoors into parks and nature should be considered essential mental health promotion activities in all times, but especially during this COVID-19 crisis.”

Robert Whitley, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Health

Addictions | Food security and nutritionImmune system | Infectious diseases and virusesMental health | Physical activity and sports | Pregnancy | Safety | Telemedicine and eHealth

Addictions

Jeffrey Derevensky, James McGill Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Director, International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-risk Behaviours

"During this period of quarantine when children and teenagers are left with a lot of unstructured time on their hands, it's especially challenging to limit their playing online internet games. Moderation is the key."

Jeffrey Derevensky is a James McGill Professor and Director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-risk Behaviours and Co-Director of the Institute for Human Development and Well-Being. He is an international expert in the area of behavioural addictions and was on the World Health Organization's committee which helped identify Internet Gaming Disorder as a recognizable disorder.

jeffrey.derevensky [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Rachel Rabin, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

“During these uncertain times, some people may use addictive substances to help cope with stress, anxiety and depression. While initially, it may appear that drugs are reducing these feelings, in fact, they can actually exacerbate them, leading people to increase their drug consumption. This can be especially worrisome for individuals who may be at increased risk of developing an addictive disorder or for those in recovery.”

Rachel Rabin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a researcher at the Douglas Research Centre. Her research program focuses on developing a better understanding of the neurocognitive and social cognitive dysfunction in individuals with substance use disorders in both psychiatric (e.g., schizophrenia) and non-psychiatric populations.

rachel.rabin [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Food security and nutrition 

Stéphanie Chevalier, Associate Professor, School of Human Nutrition

"The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our eating behaviours, diet quality, and physical activity on different levels. Some people report more time for home cooking and improving their diet. Many others have a poor diet due to limited resources, cooking skills, and access to fresh foods, or due to periods of anxiety, depression and isolation. We need high-quality data to document how eating behaviours and food intake are affected and by which determinants, as these may have long-term consequences on health outcomes."

Stéphanie Chevalier is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Nutrition and an Associate Member of the Department of Medicine. Her research studies the processes that lead to the loss of muscle mass and strength with aging, and other conditions such as cancer, viral pandemics and diabetes, that may interfere with normal functioning. Her latest initiative, the COVIDiet survey, aims to understand how the eating habits of Canadians are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

stephanie.chevalier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Daiva Nielsen, Assistant Professor, School of Human Nutrition

Little information is currently available to help us understand how Quebecers organized themselves around getting food during the strict closures and how this experience might have been similar or different in various regions, while being mindful of economic factors that play a role in shaping challenges. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to be a societal issue for some time to come, this data will be valuable to inform food access strategies to help us prepare in the event of future outbreaks.”

Daiva Nielsen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Nutrition. She is currently leading a study to compare household food procurement experiences across different regions in Quebec, including those more affected by COVID-19.

daiva.nielsen [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Pauley Tedoff, PhD candidate, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of a heavily industrialized food system that is neither socially equitable nor ecologically sustainable. Lessons learned from the pandemic underscore the importance of adopting alternative, decentralized food systems that prioritize population health and ecosystemic wellbeing.”

Pauley Tedoff is a PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and a researcher at the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security. Combining anthropological theory with epidemiological methods, her work lies at the intersection of social determinants of health, ecological stewardship, and cultural sovereignty.

pauley.tedoff [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)

Anne-Julie Tessier, PhD candidate, School of Human Nutrition

"Diet ranks as the second leading risk factor for chronic diseases including cardiovascular, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases and cancer in Canada, smoking ranking first. It is unclear how food intake, eating habits and other lifestyle behaviours have changed and will continue to be impacted as the pandemic progresses. Using an artificial intelligence-enhanced food tracker app, Canadians are capturing their eating in a fun and easy way. Our goal is to understand which factors such as stress, food access, working from home, possibly modify diet and whether it is linked to the incidence of chronic diseases."

Anne-Julie Tessier is a registered dietitian and a PhD candidate in the School of Human Nutrition. She is currently collaborating with Stéphanie Chevalier, Associate Professor in the School of Human Nutrition, on the COVIDiet survey, a study that aims to understand how the eating habits of Canadians have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

anne-julie.tessier [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)

Immune system

Gerald Batist, Minda de Gunzburg Professor, Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology

In the context of COVID-19, we can not only observe an increased risk for cancer patients, but also an increased pressure on the healthcare system’s ability to provide appropriate cancer screening and treatment.”

Gerald Batist is a Minda de Gunzburg Professor in the Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology and the Director of the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital. His research programs are in novel therapeutics, and he’s made significant contributions to the development of new cancer treatments.

gerald.batist [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Judith Mandl, Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology

Bat species have been implicated as the reservoir hosts of numerous zoonotic viruses, including Ebola, Marburg, Hendra, Nipah, rabies and coronaviruses. The immune responses of bats to these viruses results in very different infection outcomes compared to humans (e.g. no obvious clinical signs of infection in bats as opposed to sometimes very high lethality in humans, depending on the virus in question). Understanding how and why the immune response differs from animals to humans could provide us with better tools to prevent disease in humans when a new virus crosses over from its wild animal reservoir.

Judith Mandl is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and holds the Canada Research Chair in Immune Cell Dynamics. Her research has made important contributions to the field of HIV pathogenesis, demonstrating the absence of ongoing type I interferon production in a natural host for SIV and its impact on downstream adaptive responses. Her current work focuses on T cell recirculation in mouse models of infection or immunodeficiency, making use of cutting-edge research tools that allow linking individual cell-level to population-level processes, including intravital 2-photon and confocal microscopy.

judith.mandl [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Giorgia Sulis, PhD candidate, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Tomlinson Doctoral Scholar, McGill International TB Center

The abuse of antibiotics was already a significant problem prior to the COVID-19 crisis across countries and across levels of care. However, the situation is worsening with the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some patients with COVID-19 do need antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections, but such decisions should be made in accordance with antimicrobial stewardship principles.”

Giorgia Sulis is a PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and a Tomlinson Doctoral Scholar at the McGill International TB Centre under the supervision of Madhukar Pai. As an infectious diseases specialist, her research focuses on HIV and tuberculosis.

giorgia.sulis [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, Italian)

Infectious diseases and viruses

Anne Gatignol, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

"COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 remains a pandemic that continues to affect and kill people worldwide. The patients are better treated and some repurposed treatments are moderately effective against COVID-19. The focus is now on the search of specific treatments targeting the virus and vaccines to provide a protective immunity."

Anne Gatignol is Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and an Associate Member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. She teaches virology and viral pathogenesis, including emerging viruses. Her research is mainly on virus-cell interactions applied to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the Zika virus.

anne.gatignol [at] mcgill.ca (English, French) 

Matthew Oughton, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

As the majority of the population presumably remains susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, relaxing mitigation measures that have been in place since mid-March necessarily come with some risk. Those risks are manageable, provided that adequate testing and contact tracing continue to be performed and need to be balanced against the many regular activities that our population requires in order to function effectively.”

Matthew Oughton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and a specialist in infectious diseases and medical microbiology. He is based at the Jewish General Hospital, where he supervises the bacteriology and molecular microbiology laboratories. His research interests are focused on the use of molecular techniques to improve clinical diagnostic assays, with relevant publications on C. difficile, MRSA, influenza, and other pathogens.

matthew.oughton [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Raymond Tellier, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

"The current episode, involving a virus jumping from another animal species to humans, similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), is a classic episode of an ‘emerging virus’. We should note that since SARS, there have been other instances involving coronaviruses, such as the MERS in the Middle East, SADS (a disease affecting swine) in China and now the SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. 

Raymond Tellier recently joined the Infectious Diseases team at the McGill University Health Centre and was previously at the University of Calgary, where he remains an Adjunct Professor in the Department of of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He was part of the research team who first identified the SARS associated coronavirus in Toronto following the outbreak in 2003, in collaboration with several groups in Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver.

raymond.tellier [at] muhc.mcgill.ca (English, French)

Donald Vinh, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

"Coronaviruses are a huge family of diverse viruses that can infect humans and animals. The longstanding history of these viruses show that they primarily cause mild respiratory or GI illness, but occasionally, a more severe strain emerges to cause serious illness in humans. The new virus, SARS-CoV-2 that emerged out of China, was not surprising. And, like any new pathogen, infection spreads fastest following the path of least resistance. That's why it spread across the globe so quickly. And now, we see that it is particularly problematic in long term care facilities. The COVID-19 virus has elicited both ‘doom & gloom’ responses and 'lackadaisical' responses from the public, both of which hamper our efforts to contain the outbreak.”

Donald Vinh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and is an Associate Member in the Departments of Human Genetics and Experimental Medicine. His research focuses on identifying genetic defects of the immune system that explain why certain individuals are prone to infections.

donald.vinh [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Brian Ward, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

Since the initial outbreaks, Canada, most of Europe, and several countries in Asia have been doing remarkably well in keeping a 'lid' on the novel coronavirus. The virus is still circulating but at a relatively low level and the burden of cases has shifted to younger age groups. It is not at all clear what will happen when schools re-open (if schools re-open) in September. That being said, the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to 'go away' until we have effective vaccines.”

Brian Ward is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine, an Associate Member of the Centre for Host-Parasite Interactions and a Senior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). His research focuses on the development and evaluation of novel virus-like particle vaccines (eg: influenza, measles) in both young and elderly subjects, international health issues with a particular focus on factors that influence HIV transmission, virus-nutritional interactions, and the development of new diagnostic tests for parasitic diseases.

brian.ward [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)

Mental health 

Danilo Bzdok , Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Humans survive and thrive through social exchange and building groups and community. In the absence of regular social contact, the human being and its brain are affected at a variety of levels, including vulnerability to mental health disorders, but also substance abuse, stress hormone homeostasis, and aggravation of other population diseases.”

Danilo Bzdok is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He holds the Canada CIFAR AI Chair and is involved with the Mila Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute. His latest scholarly work explores the wide-ranging, negative consequences that social isolation has on our psychological well-being and physical health, including decreased life span.

danilo.bzdok [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, German, Italian)

Patricia Dobkin, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Physician resilience can be an antidote to burnout and distress. It can be fostered through both ‘bottom up’ measures, such as physicians finding meaning in their work and being able to embody mindfulness, and ‘top down’ approaches, such as directors showing appreciation and providing support (e.g. PPE) for physicians. COVID-19 is challenging due to its uncertainty, unpredictability and various unknowns (e.g. treatment, vaccine – if/when will be available). Working together, taking care of ourselves, and maintaining realistic hope will help us all get through these turbulent times.

Patricia Dobkin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine of Medicine. She is affiliated with the McGill Programs in Whole Person Care, where he leads and studies two psychosocial programs, Mindfulness-Based Medical Practice and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Her research focuses on physician well-being and improving patient care.

patricia.dobkin [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Reut Gruber, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is especially important for everyone to establish and follow good sleep habits so they get healthy sleep. Stressors that contribute to insomnia are amplified during the pandemic due to lifestyle changes, and thoughts and feelings that make people worry or feel anxious at night. People suffering from insomnia can seek the help of licensed psychologists with expertise in behavioural interventions for sleep disorders. It is important to note that certifications from institutes or organizations that are not part of a professional society (such as sleep ‘coaches’ or ‘consultants’ ) are usually not regulated and are not licensed or trained in behavioural sleep medicine.”

Reut Gruber is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the Attention, Behaviour and Sleep Laboratory at the Douglas Research Centre. Her research focuses on three themes as they relate to pediatric sleep: ADHD, academic performance, and mental health.

reut.gruber [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Jason Harley, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery

Anxiety isn’t the only emotion that can negatively impact the quality of our thinking and responsible behavior. As numbers continue to improve in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, we must also be vigilant of the influence that relief can have in directing our attention and influencing the way we make sense of COVID-19-related information. Like most things, relief is good in the right dosage because too much can lead to overconfidence, selectively attending to pandemic-related information, and adopting behaviors before they are advised for our and others’ safety.”

Jason Harley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, an Associate Member of the Institute for Health Sciences Education and a Junior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). They are currently conducting research to investigate coping strategies health care workers are using to deal with stress during the pandemic, assess their effectiveness and use that information to recommend new measures to protect the mental health of health care professionals. In collaboration with the SAILS Lab, they are also a developing and testing public education tools to enhance COVID-19 health and media literacy with a special focus on the role of emotion regulation in promoting public understanding and adaptive health behaviors.

jason.harley [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Ross Otto, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

The onus of risk management has now shifted from the government to us as individuals. We may well see more variability in the way people manage risks, as it is now in our hands.”

Ross Otto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. He studies decision-making, and more particularly, why we sometimes rely on slow, deliberative, and effortful choices, while at other times we rely on fast, habitual, and reflexive choice.

ross.otto [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Soham Rej, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Issues related to mental health issues affects more than a million older adults in Canada, costing nearly $15 billion annually – this situation has been amplified by the pandemic and could continue to worsen in the post-COVID-19 world. Many initiatives, such as a large-scale volunteer based telemedicine program launched by our team, will help address this growing issue.

Soham Rej is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a geriatric psychiatrist at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). He is currently leading a team of researchers who is running the large-scale Volunteer-Based Telehealth Intervention Program to over a thousand isolated older adults (TIP-OA) in Montreal and examines clinical trials in late-life mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders at the JGH Geri-PARTy Lab and McGill Meditation and Mind-body Medicine Research Clinic (MMMM-RC).

soham.rej [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Brett Thombs, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry

“It is not known to what degree the current situation may affect mental health, but there are important reasons to be concerned, including the fear that people are experiencing, as well as the toll of isolation. Thus, it is a good time to focus on positive mental health, and there are good recommendations out there that provide a helpful roadmap for doing this.”

Brett Thombs is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and an Associate Member of the Departments of Educational and Counselling Psychology; Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, Medicine, Psychology; and the Biomedical Ethics Unit. He is conducting (1) a large-scale, worldwide study on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts like social distancing, particularly on people already suffering from chronic medical conditions and (2) a trial of an intervention designed to reduce negative mental health effects. 

brett.thombs [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Samuel Veissière, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Co-director, Culture, Mind and Brain Program

In times of great uncertainty, catastrophes or disruptions of the social order, people often look for simple narratives and explanatory models to identify culprits. Conspiracy theories can become viral in such moments because they are catchy and intuitive, easy to remember, and easy to pass on. All conspiracy theories follow a similar intuitive recipe grounded in fear of pollution and desire to protect the purity of perceived victims. At a time when the need to work together to build a healthier world has never been so apparent, it is time to treat the Internet for what it is: the most alarming public health risk and threat to democracy we have ever known.”

Samuel Veissière is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, the Co-director of the Culture, Mind, and Brain program and an Associate Member of the Department of Anthropology. An interdisciplinary anthropologist and cognitive scientist, he studies social dimensions of cognition, consciousness, and human well-being through a variety of projects including placebo effects and hypnosis, hyper-sociality in smartphone addiction, social polarization, gender and mental health, and the theoretical study of cultural evolution.

samuel.veissiere [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Portuguese)

Anna Weinberg, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Stress is a risk factor for a huge range of health problems, including increases in anxiety and depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has many elements that make it a particularly potent stressor—including its chronicity, its ability to erode sources of comfort, like social support, and the sustained uncertainty that it has injected into so many areas of our lives. We are already seeing heightened symptoms of anxiety and depression around the world, and these effects may increase over time as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt. However, not everyone is experiencing the pandemic in the same way, and different individuals are differentially susceptible to the effects of stress. It is critical to address both the unequal distribution of pandemic-related stress and to promote strategies that individuals can use to buffer against the adverse effects of stress.”

Anna Weinberg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Clinical Neuroscience. Her research focuses on identifying biological pathways that give rise to disordered emotional experience.

Anna.weinberg [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Robert Whitley, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

COVID-19 has placed limits on socializing and other activities that can foster positive mental health. As such, individuals may need to engage in innovative activities to reduce stress and promote their own mental health. Importantly, a large corpus of research indicates that outdoor activity and contact with nature can foster positive mental health, and even facilitate recovery from mental illness. Hence, getting outdoors into parks and nature should be considered essential mental health promotion activities in all times, but especially during this COVID-19 crisis.”

Robert Whitley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. His three main research interests are recovery, stigma and men’s mental health and he leads projects funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Movember Foundation.

robert.whitley [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Physical activity and sports 

Gordon Bloom, Full Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

“My advice for athletes is to try and maintain both a healthy mind and a healthy body. In the former, stay virtually connected with your coaches and teammates by talking about the sport that you love with them, knowing that one day you will be back. In the latter, remember that exercise is medicine and it can still be done in ways that respect social distancing. Continuing to exercise also reminds your body that you will be back playing the sport you love.”

Gordon Bloom is a Full Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. His research focuses on sport psychology, pedagogy, coaching knowledge and behaviours, team building, and psychology of athletic injuries such as concussions.

gordon.bloom [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Aaron Fellows, Project Coordinator and Kinesiology Clinic Supervisor, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

"We are all concerned about the current situation and the potential impact of COVID-19, and I wanted to remind everyone that we should still continue to exercise regularly. Unfortunately, during these times of crisis, our physical activity is often one of the first aspects of our lives we tend to ignore. We must try to avoid this. Being more physically active will not only help maintain our current physical and mental health – it can also help us prevent other diseases and conditions."

Aaron Fellows is the Project Coordinator and Kinesiology Clinic Supervisor in the Department of of Kinesiology and Physical Education. With years of experience in the fitness and physical activity industry, he understands the many health benefits that exercise provides, and he feels privileged to be in a position where he can make a difference in people’s lives and help them achieve their short and long-term goals.

aaron.fellows [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Steven Grover, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine

“During social isolation, engaging Canadians to maintain healthy lifestyle habits is at least as important as avoiding the infection. Given that approximately 2/3 of Canadians are overweight or obese and only 15% meet current physical activity guidelines, the impact of more sedentary behaviour, weight gain, and increased stress will result in a huge jump in cases of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and mental health problems including insomnia, anxiety and depression. How we manage our physical and mental health during social isolation is critical and at least as important as maintaining the isolation itself.”

Steven Grover is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Hi research focuses on the importance of exercise, healthy eating, and other lifestyle interventions to improve health, as well as on digital, e-healthinterventions using web-based platforms.

steven.grover [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Richard Koestner, Full Professor, Department of Psychology

This is a time where we have to consider adjusting our personal goals. For instance, many people have the common goal of doing exercise three times a week, though now gyms and sport fields are no longer accessible to the public. Due to the current situation, some have instead taken up jogging, outdoor calisthenics or even invented their own parkour circuits. Such creative adaptations not only allow us to get exercise but also leads us to a new activity that can be surprisingly rewarding.”

Richard Koestner is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology and the head of the McGill Human Motivation Lab. For more than 30 years, he has been conducting research on goal-setting, self-regulation and internalization processes.

richard.koestner [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Pregnancy 

Gabrielle Cassir, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

“In the current COVID-19 pandemic, the unique concerns of pregnant women need to be addressed.”

Gabrielle Cassir is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a staff physician at the St. Mary’s Hospital Center. Her sub-specialty focused on high-risk pregnancies, with a particular interest in maternal diseases, more specifically obesity, diabetes, hypertension and hyperparathyroidism.

gabrielle.cassir [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Suzanne King, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry

“Both maternal infections and psychosocial stress during pregnancy have been associated with sub-optimal outcomes in the unborn child. Thus, it’s important for pregnant women to (1) follow public health directives to avoid contracting COVID-19 or any other illness, (2) follow all of the good pregnancy health guidelines such as eating well and taking vitamins, and (3) focus on the positive in their current situation, get psychosocial support to limit stress, and take steps to limit changes to their daily routines as much as possible.”

Suzanne King is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, as well as a Principal Investigator at the Douglas Research Centre. Her current work focuses on three prospective longitudinal studies of children who were exposed to maternal stress in utero as the result of a natural disaster: the Quebec ice storm of 1998; Iowa floods of 2008; and Queensland floods in Australia in 2011.

suzanne.king [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Isabelle Malhamé, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine

Although the vast majority of pregnant women will experience mild COVID-19 symptoms, some women do progress to severe morbidity. Thus, the maternal risks with COVID-19 during pregnancy should not be downplayed. We still have a lot to learn about the effects of COVID-19 on maternal, fetal, and pregnancy outcomes.”

Isabelle Malhamé is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and an attending physician at the McGill University Health Centre, where she provides specialized clinical service to women with medical disorders before, during, and after pregnancy. Her research focuses on severe cardiovascular complications occurring during pregnancy and the postpartum period in high and low resource settings.

isabelle.malhame [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Ashley Wazana, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Both mother’s prenatal mood symptoms as well as worries during pregnancy predict the child’s mental well-being in the long run. There are multiple factors at play, including genetics, sex and gender, and the environment after birth, but when you combine maternal stress with the environmental adversity from the COVID-19 crisis, you have the potential for greater mental health challenges for children who are born into this post-pandemic world. Mental health ought to be a fundamental part of prenatal health. We need to appreciate the importance of mental health needs across the lifespan, starting with pregnancy.”

Ashley Wazana is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a clinician-scientist at the Jewish General Hospital. His research examines how genotypes in the serotonin, dopamine and glucocorticoid pathways and which early maternal experiences interact to modify the trajectory for anxious and depressive psychopathology of children with prenatal adversity.

ashely.wazana [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Safety

Parisa Ariya, James McGill Professor, Departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry

We cannot stop all viral transmissions, yet we can better manage them. The recent scientific data shows consistently that facial masks diminishes the COVID-19 transmission.”

Parisa Ariya is a James McGill Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry. A world leader in the study of bioaerosol transmission, her research explores major fundamental and applied research questions on chemical and physical processes involving aerosols, as well as gaseous organic and trace metal pollutants of relevance to the Earth's atmosphere and to human health.

parisa.ariya [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Roland Grad, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health care and altered our priorities. During this time, preventive health care such as screening for cancer needs rethinking to focus on just a few actions that are strongly recommended.”

Roland Grad is an Associate Professor and Director of the Clinician Scholar Program in the Department of Family Medicine, as well as an attending physician at the Jewish General Hospital. His research pertains to knowledge translation, medical education, and continuing professional development, with a focus on how health professionals use research-based information.

roland.grad [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Leighanne Parkes, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

“Different groups, ranging from health care workers to everyday people living in zones affected by COVID-19, require different mitigations strategies. When implementing prevention strategies, multiple facets have to be taken into consideration such as physical space, administrative processes and human behaviors. Our last line of defense is often protective equipment like masks, gloves and ocular protection, but this is the ‘weakest’ line of defense. Each population or group needs a tailored approach, and an approach that specifically involves the members of the group involved; an approach of which they can take ownership.”

Leighanne Parkes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist at the Jewish General Hospital. She is currently collaborating in a McGill-led clinical research initiative to test the efficacy of existing drugs against COVID-19, in the hopes they may improve outcomes as a vaccine is being developed.

leighanne.parkes [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Jennifer Ronholm, Assistant Professor, Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry

“Reusable cups or containers could present a risk to restaurant workers if they are being used by someone who has the virus prior to being handed to front line workers. However, to put the risk in perspective, anyone cleaning the tables at the same restaurant would be potentially be exposed at the same or higher rate (via dirty plates and cutlery) if people infected with the virus ate there.”

Jennifer Ronholm is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry. Her research interests include using the latest next-generation sequencing techniques to study how the microbiome of food-producing animals affects food quality, as well as how the microbiome of the food we eat affects human health.

jennifer.ronholm [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Avinash Sinha, Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia

A review of the evidence suggests a strong recommendation for the use of masks when in public and physical distancing is not possible or is unpredictable. Places where the risk is particularly high include public transport, workplaces and enclosed environments that are experiencing increased traffic as we lighten ‘lockdown’ restrictions. We should continue to emphasize the attitude that ‘I protect you, you protect me, together we protect society’ embodied in personal practices that include hand washing and good hygiene, staying at home when possible, isolating when ill, general awareness of contact precautions, especially around vulnerable people or groups, and the practice of physical distancing and physical barriers such as masks.

Avinash Sinha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesia and an anesthesiologist at the McGill University Health Centre. He is part of a team of Montreal medical experts that partnered with AON3D, a Montreal-based 3D printing company, to design and distribute face shields to protect healthcare workers working COVID-19-infected patients.

avinash.sinha [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Guylène Thériault, Faculty Lecturer, Department of Family Medicine

This pandemic gives us a necessary setback. We need to refocus our activities in medicine on actions that bring value to our patients, actions (tests, treatments, etc.) that have a real potential to positively influence their quality of life. We must stop many tests and treatments that have no value and we must develop the humility to share decisions through conversations where we exchange the most accurate information possible.”

Guylène Thériault is a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine and the Director of the Physicianship Component at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Campus Outaouais. A family medicine physician with more than two decades of experience, her expertise has been sought after by the Direction de la santé publique de Outaouais, the CISSS de Outaouais and the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care as co-lead of primary care for Choosing Wisely Canada.

guylene.theriault [at] mcgill.ca (French)

Michael Wiseman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Dentistry, Division of Community-Based Dentistry and Dental Public Health

Dentists have always been on the cusp of infection control. Since the reopening of the dental clinics, dentists have gone to great lengths to ensure safety for their staff and patients. In most cases, operatories (if constructed in an open concept) have been closed off, air scrubbers have been added to allow for multiple air room changes and the use of high efficiency masks and respirators has yielded a safe environment. As community spread of COVID-19 has diminished, patients should feel safe to go see their dentist. All patients prior to coming are screened and this screening is repeated the day of the appointment. Because of the evolving patient care provided by dental teams, a safe environment can be provided to the patient.”

Michael Wiseman is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry and a dentist in Côte St-Luc. In 2015, he was involved as the Montreal representative in the launch of the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program, a pilot initiative to provide free oral health care to Holocaust survivors.

michael.wiseman [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Telemedicine and eHealth 

Sara Ahmed, Associate Professor, School of Occupational and Physical Therapy

At the heart of patient centered care is the ability to adjust care according to a person’s medical condition and personal circumstances and preferences — including during the pandemic. There will be lessons learned on practices to continue, but we must also examine disparities in access to care and why for some patients telehealth, for example, was not offered or accessible.”

Sara Ahmed is an Associate Professor in the School of Occupational and Physical Therapy. She conducts research aimed at improving health outcomes for individuals with chronic disease by addressing the challenges of using patient reported outcomes (e.g. health-related quality of life, self-efficacy) in chronic disease management programs, and the use of advanced psychometric approaches for improving the precision and efficiency of outcome evaluations.

sara.ahmed [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Antonia Arnaert, Associate Professor, Ingram School of Nursing

“In response to COVID-19, clinicians and healthcare systems worldwide have had to embrace remote and virtual health care. Once the pandemic subsides, hopefully these measures will still be considered to make health and social services more accessible.”

Antonia Arnaert is an Associate Professor and the Master’s Program Director (Direct-Entry & Nurse Entry) at the Ingram School of Nursing. Her research is focused on the implementation and integration of sustainable digital health solutions (including health information technology, mobile health, personalized medicine, telemedicine and wearable health devices) to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and provide personalized care to various patient populations.

antonia.arnaert [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Fouad Farès, Faculty Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies

In the near future, the main budget of governments will revolve around medical research and health services to fill the gaps identified during the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be a significant transformation in the processes to update them and prevent the experienced harms. Several services and technologies that have been in existence for several years may play a revolutionary role, particularly in increasing the accuracy of analytical algorithm results and artificial intelligence.”

Fouad Farès is a Faculty Lecturer in the School of Continuing Studies, where he teaches in the Data Science program. He is also the founder of Mindsmaster Canada Inc., a consulting firm helping companies with their business and digital transformation. His expertise is in analytics, big data and data development.

fouad.fares [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Bertrand Lebouché, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine

Investigating mobile health technology to remotely follow-up with COVID-19 patients at home is important to connect them with care, to protect healthcare providers, and to engage patients in COVID-19 research.”

Bertrand Lebouché is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a Scientist in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Since 2019, Dr. Lebouché has been adapting a patient-conceived smartphone application (Opal), in use at the Cedars Cancer Centre of the MUHC, for HIV care – he has since teamed up with the creators of Opal to create a new application that could provide resources for COVID-19 patients isolating at home.

bertrand.lebouche [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Society

Bereavement and griefChildrenCities | Crime and civil liberties | Data and privacyEducationFamilies and parenting | Indigenous peoplesMedia and misinformation | SeniorsSustainability and climate change | Women and gender

Bereavement and grief

Mary Ellen MacDonald, Associate Professor, Faculty of Dentistry, Division of Oral Health and Society

While some bereaved people may need professional support, for many a salient social response is community-based acknowledgment and validation. Grief literacy, which aims to empower everyday citizens, networks and communities to understand the loneliness and isolation caused by grief, and to respond with acts of kindness and compassion, can be an important point to consider when thinking about bereavement in the age of COVID-19.”

Mary Ellen Macdonald is a medical anthropologist with postdoctoral training in Pediatric Palliative Care. In addition to her appointment to the Division of Oral Health and Society as part of the Faculty of Dentistry, she is affiliated with the Biomedical Ethics Unit, the Departments of Pediatrics, Oncology and the Ingram School of Nursing. Her main research interests include oral health in vulnerable populations, palliative care and bereavement research, cultural aspects of health and illness with Indigenous communities, and health professions education research.

mary.macdonald [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Children

Delphine Collin-Vézina, Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Director, Centre for Research on Children and Families

As schools are reopening, teachers and other school staff need to make sure vulnerable children are provided with a school environment where they can truly thrive. Teachers can focus on providing an environment conducive to emotional security and instilling a feeling of self-efficacy to help vulnerable children have a smooth, enjoyable school experience, as they transition back to their school environment.”

A licensed clinical psychologist, Delphine Collin-Vézina is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, as well as the Tier II Canada Research Chair in Child Welfare, the Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families and the Nicolas Steinmetz and Gilles Julien Chair in Social Pediatrics. Her research interests include clinical topics related to child maltreatment, child sexual abuse, and trauma.

delphine.collin-vezina [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Joanna Merckx, Affiliated Member, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

"Epidemiologic research on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic requires diagnostic technologies and the capacity to interpret results of clinical and population tests for active infection, disease and for history of exposure. Infection and disease affect different populations differently, and age is one of the most important dimensions that impacts all aspects of epidemic spread and health consequences. The particular case of children is an especially understudied clinical and public health problem that as a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases I have a special commitment to research and understand.”

Joanna Merckx is an Affiliated Member in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and the Director of Medical Affairs at bioMérieux Canada, Inc., where she studies the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Her work focuses on clinical infectiology and epidemiology of infectious diseases with an emphasis on diagnostics, pediatrics and perinatology.

joanna-trees.merckx [at] mcgill.ca (Dutch, English, French, Spanish)

Jesse Papenburg, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

"At the beginning of the pandemic, it was suggested that young children were less likely to become infected and this statement still holds true. That being said, because children tend to be asymptomatic or even asymptomatic and suffer from mild illness, there may also be many infected children who have gone undetected and missed us. However, data confirms that the proportion of infected children who need to go to the emergency department and be hospitalized is much lower than in adults and the overall severity of the disease is much lower in children.”

Jesse Papenburg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and an Infectious Disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on the epidemiology, surveillance and diagnosis of severe viral respiratory infections among children in Québec and Canada.

jesse.papenburg [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Marie-Hélène Pennestri, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology

“It is important to get enough sleep during this period of stress. Sleep is a protective factor for both physical and mental health, in children and in adults. Sleeping enough will contribute to keep individuals healthy, among all the other recommendations. Moreover, family members now spend a lot of time together… sleeping enough will improve their mood and contribute to better family relationships!”

Marie-Hélène Pennestri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, She investigates the development of the sleep-wake cycle in healthy infants and preschoolers. Her research program also focuses on more vulnerable populations (such as social pediatric, foster children and premature birth).

marie-helene.pennestri [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Cécile Rousseau, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Although there are some risks associated with the re-opening of daycares and schools, there are also important benefits in terms of child protection and child development. The deleterious effects of confinement on children are just emerging and some are very serious (from anxiety disorders and cyber-dependence to inter-personal violence). Decision to send the children back to school should be individualized and based on a risk-benefit analysis. The decision is a process, which needs to take into account, among other things, the voice of the child and the parents’ levels of comfort with the decision. Some parents will benefit from support to help them take a decision.”

Cécile Rousseau is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a clinical psychiatrist at the Montreal Children's Hospital, where she directs the Transcultural Child Psychiatry Clinic. She works with refugee and immigrant children, developing a model of culturally sensitive shared care for primary health care institutions.

cecile.rousseau [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)

Keiko Shikako-Thomas, Assistant Professor, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy

“Children with disabilities and their families are a vulnerable group that is even more marginalized during a crisis. Extra financial and social support resources must be put in place to support families of children with disabilities and complex health care needs. Families are now restricted to their home environment, having to handle on their own the care that normally comes from different systems such as health and rehabilitation, specialized education, respite AND extended family. An added fear is that many of these children have complex health care needs and may be found without the life-saving procedures they need due to the pressures on the healthcare system during the pandemic.”

Keiko Shikako-Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and the Canada Research Chair in Childhood Disability: Participation and Knowledge Translation. Her research focuses on the promotion of healthy living and the human rights of children with disabilities. She is also interested in knowledge translation science and practice, and uses a participatory approach to engage different stakeholders, including policymakers and children and their families, in finding solutions to change the environment, inform policymaking and promote the participation of children with disabilities in different life roles and activities.

keiko.thomas [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Cities

Honor Bixby, Banting Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Health and Social Policy

The urban poor are among those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been promising examples of action to mitigate the harm on poor and vulnerable communities. As we move into the next phases of the pandemic, we must continue to priorities equity in the response. Cities and local governments should engage local communities to ensure their needs are supported.”

Honor Bixby is a Banting Postdoctoral Research Fellow under the supervision of Jill Baumgartner, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar cross-appointed to the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health and the Institute for Health and Social Policy. Her research work focuses on the impact of urban physical, economic and social environments on human health.

honor.bixby [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Ahmed El-Geineidy, Full Professor, School of Urban Planning

Public transport is an essential service. We need to keep it moving and we must make certain it survives the COVID-19 pandemic. To do so, we will need to rethink the way we deliver all transport services in cities. Maintaining space for physical distancing on buses or subways could mean reducing passenger capacity by as much as 70%. At least in the short-term, ridership or fare-box recovery rates can no longer be the measure of success for this essential public service. The measure of public transport’s success is going to be its ability to ensure that essential workers can reach their jobs and that people without other options can still reach essential services. This is a new reality that policy makers need to understand. At the same time, we need to work on providing alternatives to reduce the pressure on the public transport system by creating safer and more enticing cycling and walking options than we currently have in our cities.

Ahmed El-Geneidy is a Full Professor at the School of Urban Planning. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM). His areas of expertise include transport planning and operations, transport economics, measurements of accessibility and intelligent transportation systems.

ahmed-elgeneidy [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Kevin Manaugh, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and School of Environment

“The spread and response to COVID-19 reveals disparities in the capacity of the built and social environment to allow for residents of various neighborhoods to shelter in place. The requirements to practice 'physical distancing' highlights limitations of the built form of our cities to allow people to walk and cycle safely. In the short and long term, this will hopefully lead to rethinking about the allocation of street space to allow for increased use of these active modes of transport.”

Kevin Manaugh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Geography and the School of Environment, as well as an Associate Member of the School of Urban Planning. He conducts research on how yrban regions are faced with a multitude of challenges, how decision-makers balance, prioritize and trade-off various—often-conflicting—environmental, economic, and social equity goals.

kevin.manaugh [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Grant McKenzie, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

There are significant differences in how the inhabitants of countries respond to COVID-19 related polices enacted by their national governments. Through comparing millions of human mobility patterns across 100+ countries, we have discovered that temporal lag in mobility response and variation of patterns within a nation negatively correlate with human development rank indices.”

Grant McKenzie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, where he leads the Platial Analysis Lab, an interdisciplinary research group that works at the intersection of information science and behavioral geography. Much of his work examines how human activity patterns vary within and between local regions and global communities.

grant.mckenzie [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Will Straw, James McGill Professor, Department of Art History and Communication Studies

This is a perfect time for cities to continue ‘rethinking’ their nightlife, which many of them have been doing over the last couple of years, including the current Montreal government. The questions of closing hours, noise toleration, gentrification, outdoor drinking, festival locations, and so on were already being debated before COVID-19. The crisis gives us a context to reimagine what the night of our cities might be.

Will Straw is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, where he focuses on urban media studies. His research explores the ways that the nighttime culture of cities is governed, promoted, and represented.

william.straw [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Crime and civil liberties

Alessandro Drago, PhD candidate, Department of Sociology

"There has been an increase in reported hate crimes targeting Asian Canadians across Canada due to fears surrounding COVID-19 ranging from vandalism, verbal abuse, and physical violence. Crimes have also targeted the Inuit population in Montreal in cases of mistaken identity. Asian Canadians have been unfairly and erroneously scapegoated for the spread of COVID-19. Far-right groups use uncertain times such as these to promote and propagate their hatred and bigotry, using Asian Canadians as stand-ins for their displeasure with Canada’s migratory policies and globalization more generally. Individuals should remain vigilante and report any hate crimes targeting Asian Canadians and other marginalized groups. Racist behaviour and rhetoric seen online or heard during interpersonal conversations should also be called out."

Alessandro Drago is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. His research interests include political sociology, race and ethnicity, right-wing and social movements.

alessandro.drago [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English)

Pearl Eliadis, Affiliate Member, Max Bell School of Public Policy and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have entered a new territory. There has not been an emergency on this scale since the Charter was entrenched in 1982. The courts will likely show considerable deference to the government to protect the public interest. But the emergency measures infringe several fundamental freedoms and legal rights, and also limit citizens’ ability to sue for Charter violations after the fact. There have been reports of overreach by police and lack of clarity on what the rules are. Civil liberties and states of emergency do not co-exist easily. Even during a pandemic, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is still in full force and effect, as is Quebec’s charter. It is vital that government emergency measures be necessary, proportionate and based on precaution and that citizens be vigilant in protecting their rights and freedoms.”

Pearl Eliadis is an Affiliate Member at the Max Bell School of Public Policy, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law. A senior lawyer in private practice and with more than two decades of public policy experience in federal and provincial governments, she has led successfully complex, global projects dealing with national institutions, evaluation, and human rights, with in-country missions to China, Ethiopia, Nepal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan and Timor Leste.

pearl.eliadis [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Marie Manikis, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Faculty of Law

“COVID-19 should be a relevant factor that is taken into consideration by decision-makers across the various stages of the criminal process, including decisions about policing, prosecutions, bail/remand, sentencing, and prison administration.”

Marie Manikis is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law and has been a William Dawson Scholar since 2019. Her scholarship is interdisciplinary, comparative and uses social science methodologies to advance the available knowledge in criminal law and criminal justice.

marie.manikis [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Data and privacy

Ignacio Cofone, Assistant Professor and Norton Rose Fulbright Faculty Scholar, Faculty of Law

"Contact tracing apps present important benefits for containing the pandemic's spread, but they also introduce surveillance risks that we must take into account – both at a policy level and at an individual level. The federal government's COVID-19 Alert app has robust security measures that make it superior to most other alternatives. Risks, however, inevitably remain. The desirable policy response is to identify and mitigate those risks."

Ignacio Cofone is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law, where he teaches artificial intelligence law, business associations and privacy law. His research explores how the law should adapt to technological and social change with a focus on privacy and algorithmic decision-making. In his latest projects, he proposes how to evaluate harm in privacy class actions and how to prevent algorithmic discrimination.

ignacio.cofone [at] mcgill.ca (English, Spanish)

Xiao Liu, Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Studies

With expansive digital technologies and vast amounts of data being enlisted for the surveillance and tracking of COVID-19, concerns deepen over personal data privacy and protection of civil liberties. It has become more than urgent to study data protection and technology governance policies worldwide, and to develop robust data governance frameworks in order to protect fundamental rights of human beings. It is our responsibility to shape our post-pandemic world now.”

Xiao Liu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies and currently a Fellow at the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information technologies and digital media, Chinese cinemas, science fiction and fantasy, and (post-) socialist culture and critique.

xiao.liu6 [at] mcgill.ca (English, Mandarin)

Allen Mendelsohn, Sessional Lecturer, Faculty of Law

COVID-19 has turned the Internet into the center of our universe, which presents unique challenges from a legal perspective. In the privacy sphere, contact tracing via mobile applications present serious issues as it relates to both federal and provincial privacy laws. However, the public health benefits may be sufficient to override the privacy protections built into both our public and private sector privacy laws.”

Allen Mendelsohn is a Sessional Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, where he teaches a course on Internet Law. He is a Montreal-based independent practitioner specializing in internet and technology law.

allen.mendelsohn [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Derek Ruths, Associate Professor, School of Computer Science

“Social and medical data is a critical ally in navigating, mitigating, and solving the COVID-19 crisis. Making data useful, however, is a challenge. Privacy (what data should be shared and who should access it), misinformation (how do we ensure people get access to reliable information), accuracy (when is statistical modeling or machine learning the right approach and how far can we trust these models), and many other factors will impact whether data helps or hinders the local and global response.”

Derek Ruths is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science, where he heads the Network Dynamics Laboratory. He is also the Director of the Centre for Social and Cultural Data Science. His research interests include the use of data to measure and predict human behaviour on a large scale.

derek.ruths [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Renee Sieber, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and School of Environment

No country has achieved the requisite threshold for the contact tracing apps to be fully effective. Location tracking (whether through Bluetooth, cellphone tower triangulation or GPS) is sufficiently flawed and could produce many false positives. The apps, especially for those who are concerned about their contribution to more government surveillance, cannot act as a substitute for building trust in government or for traditional contact tracing, to which the funding should be directed. The apps further support the ability of big tech companies to further monetize your movements in space and time and connect that to your health. In the end, these apps offer only a technocratic solution.”

Renee Sieber is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Geography and the School of Environment and an Affiliated Member of the School of Computer Science. Her research focuses on rewiring geographic information systems for social change, tools for urban and sustainable development and virtual activism.

renee.sieber [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Education

Mindy Carter, Associate Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a curious moment in which human beings have an opportunity to re-orient their relational co-existence with human and non-human life (i.e. water, trees, animals, technology). This time of social distancing and isolation can be a moment to think, feel, perceive and ultimately live in new, hopeful way(s) that consider collective ethical, social, political, economic and embodied limitations. Now is a time to dream about profound transformations of systems, in which critical creative becoming(s) are possible, so that a turn towards a new era can emerge."

Mindy Carter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her expertise pertains to the importance of holistic learning for elementary aged children and how the arts & creativity can help children socio-emotionally connect and share their feelings and foster resiliency.

mindy.carter [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Adam Dubé, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology

"Teachers and parents are turning to technology during the pandemic as a way to maintain their students’ and children’s education but there is more ambiguity than clarity on what types of educational technologies actually work and how to use them. Some educational technologies work, some cause us to worry unnecessarily, and some are just a waste of time. Research helps us determine which is which."

Adam Dubé is an Assistant Professor in the Learning Sciences Program of the Educational and Counselling Psychology Department, as well as the head of the Technology, Learning, & Cognition Lab and a joint Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and the Society of Research in Child Development in middle childhood education and development. He investigates how educational technology augments the learning process and teaches courses on the use of emerging educational technologies.

adam.dube [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Lisa Starr, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education and Director, Internships and Student Affairs, Faculty of Education

“Schools, students and society are experiencing history in the making. More than ever we need creative thinking, adaptability and empathy to navigate uncertain times. These are skills we expect of students but must model as teachers as well.”

Lisa Starr is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and the director of Internships and Student Affairs for the Faculty of Education. She sees her role as being to provide experiences that will not simply show students how to teach but to create a transformative environment so that our future teachers enter into schools and classrooms confident, prepared and ready to inspire.

lisa.starr2 [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Families and parenting

Nancy Heath, James McGill Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Associate Dean, Research and Innovation, Faculty of Education

"The COVID-19 pandemic has created a “new normal” of parenting while working from home. Yes, we are having moments of intense closeness with our children, but frequently we feel stressed, worried and frustrated. And there remains a tremendous social stigma against admitting that one is genuinely struggling as a parent — even in these ‘unprecedented times’. So, how can parents best maintain their own emotional well-being and that of their children? Self-care and self-compassion are central, as is acknowledging that we are doing the best we can. However, just as important is breaking the silence. Social media sharing of genuine parenting challenges in this very stressful time is particularly needed. Parents and children will do better in this crisis if parents are more honest with each other so we can truly support each other — even if it is done remotely!"

Nancy Heath is a James McGill Professor and the Interim Chair of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, as well as the Associate Dean of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Education. Her research program explores resilience and adaptive functioning in young people at-risk (children, adolescents, and young adults).

nancy.heath [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Lily Hechtman, Full Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry

Generally, the adaptation to the quarantine and stay-at-home orders is not uniform, but rather influenced by many factors such as financial (in)security, medical and emotional health of family members, and levels of social and emotional support available to the children and parents.”

Lily Hechtman is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and the Director of Research in the Division of Child Psychiatry. An internationally recognized researcher in ADHD, her research is focused on long-term prospective studies of children with ADHD followed into adolescence and adulthood.

lily.hechtman [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Tina Montreuil, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology

“In many cases, this period of pandemic has led to increased levels of stress and anxiety in children and teenagers, more importantly due to the social isolation and limited interactions that resulted from confinement. As children, parents and teachers prepare for an imminent return to school, it is more critical than ever to support the social emotional well-being of our young ones, but also of all adults who will play a significant role in ensuring a seamless post COVID-19 school reintegration. Coping skills that include emotion regulation, linking thoughts and feelings as well as acceptance and self-compassion will most likely become the decisive element in safeguarding and well-being. Fostering resilience and recovery, in some cases, can be achieved through preventive efforts. Healthy brains build healthy schools.”

Tina Montreuil is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and an Associate Member of the Department of Psychiatry. Her research focuses on investigating the role of emotion regulation, attitudes, and beliefs on the development and intergenerational transmission of psychopathology and how symptoms of mental health problems might interfere with self-regulated learning in a group context and ultimately, educational achievement.

tina.montreuil [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Indigenous peoples

Kent Saylor, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Director, Indigenous Health Professions Program

Many Indigenous school boards have made the decision to remain closed for the remainder of this academic school year. The reasons for these decisions are varied and depend on the individual nation and sometimes the individual community. Many Indigenous peoples, especially in the North, live in overcrowded living conditions and are therefore at higher risk for COVID-19 infection. There have also been delays in testing in many Indigenous communities so the reported low numbers of infection may be deceiving. The unique nature of each Indigenous community highlights the need for each nation to be able to make their own decisions regarding all aspects of their lives including the educational system.”

A member of the Mohawk Nation, Kent Saylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Director of the Indigenous Health Professions Program in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. For the past 20 years, he has worked as a consultant pediatrician with the Northern and Native Child Health Program of the Montreal Children’s Hospital where he has provided care for numerous Indigenous children throughout Quebec.

kent.saylor [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Media and misinformation

Aengus Bridgman, PhD candidate, Department of Political Science

"Data shows that exposure to social media, notably Twitter, is associated with misperceptions regarding basic facts about COVID-19, whereas exposure to news media will tend to reinforce the adoption of public health recommendations. These misperceptions are in turn associated with lower compliance with social distancing measures. There is therefore a clear link between misinformation circulating on social media and behaviours and attitudes that potentially magnify the scale and lethality of COVID-19."

Aengus Bridgman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, a fellow at the Centre for Democratic Citizenship and a research fellow with the Media Ecosystem Observatory. His research focuses on the participation and motivation of online political activists, the Canadian information ecosystem, and how social media is consequential for politics.

aengus.bridgman [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English)

Kimiz Dalkir, Associate Professor and Director, School of Information Studies

“Fake news needs to be tackled in a more comprehensive manner. This involves: improving peoples’ awareness of misinformation; national/provincial legislation and company policies that invoke real consequences for deliberately creating/sharing fake news; and the use of better tools, such as AI, which is able to detect with great speed the spread of fake news vs. real news. The single most effective defense we have is to carefully consider the source of all news.”

Kimiz Dalkir is an Associate Professor and the Director of the School of Information Studies. She is an internationally recognized expert in transfer and retention of critical knowledge and has worked in the field of knowledge transfer for the last two decades.

kimiz.dalkir [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Sandra Hyde, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

The new activism around COVID-19 can be quite puzzling when compared to previous pandemics, such as the HIV/AIDS crisis in China and the United States. We find strange bedfellows where public intellectuals like Giorgio Agamben, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Christine Northrup, and anti-vaxxers, converge with the ideals of the right-wing QAnon, Nazi Germany and the global anti-mask movement. What we are seeing is a conflation of new spiritual health movements and older right-wing conspiracy groups turning to what some refer to as the new conspirituality.

Sandra Hyde is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and is affiliated with the Departments of Social Studies of Medicine, Transcultural Psychiatry and East Asian Studies. Her research and writing bring anthropological methods to bear on critical public health and the cultural politics of epidemics, which are key areas with practical implications for understanding power, inequality, gender, ethnicity and sexuality.

sandra.hyde [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Taylor Owen, Associate Professor, Max Bell School of Public Policy and Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications

“Our social interactions, our digital economy, our employment, and our politics are moving online. And we are doing so via commercial platforms designed with a very particular set of incentives. These design decisions and incentives are going to have a profound effect on us all. If ever we were to think about and build public digital infrastructures, now would be the time.”

Taylor Owen is an Associate Professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy and holder of the Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications. His research focuses on exploring the ethics, civic impact, and governance of emerging technologies.

taylor.owen [at] mcgill.ca (English)  

Mehrgol Tiv, PhD Candidate, Department of Psychology

“The language that is being used to talk about the novel coronavirus evokes metaphors of war and disaster (e.g., “the invisible enemy”). This fear-inducing framing preoccupies the mind with self-preservationist thoughts and out-group competition, which in turn takes away from our ability to think about others’ thoughts and feelings. We might forget that we are all collectively experiencing the same thing and likely have more in common with each other now than ever before. Highlighting this shared identity could help us come together.”

Mehrgol Tiv is a PhD Candidate in experimental psychology in the Department of Psychology. Her interdisciplinary research merges social cognition, language, and intergroup psychology. She studies how bilingual experience affects social language processing and how we understand other peoples’ intentions, despite coming from different groups.

mehrgol.tiv [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)

Emmanuelle Vaast, Full Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

Social media enable people to share multimedia content in new ways. In these turbulent times, it fosters a greater sense of community, but also heightens polarization and divisions.”

Emmanuelle Vaast is a Full Professor of Information Systems in the Desautels Faculty of Management. Her research examines how social practices emerge and change with the implementation and use of new technologies and how these new practices are associated with organizational and change dynamics. Some of the themes she is especially interested in deal with the emergence of new organizational forms and with new dynamics associated with organizational and occupational identification, as well as the future of work.

emmanuelle.vaast [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Seniors 

Shari Brotman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

“The crisis unfolding in long-term care homes across Quebec has exposed an ugly truth: our care system relies too heavily on the unpaid and unrecognized work of family caregivers — many of whom are seniors themselves.”

Shari Brotman is Associate Professor at the School of Social Work. She has worked extensively, as an educator, researcher and practitioner in the fields of gerontology and anti-oppression social work practice. Her scholarly activities center on questions of access and equity in the design and delivery of health and social care services to older adults from marginalized communities (minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse) and their caregivers.

shari.brotman [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Susan Mintzberg, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work

“The devastation we are now witnessing in long term care homes has shaken our collective conscience. At the moment, it is a crisis that requires immediate solutions, but this is an issue than runs much deeper and has been building for decades. What we are now forced to face is a larger systemic issue that impacts stigmatized populations, such as seniors and those living with mental illness. As a society we have continuously turned a blind eye to these populations and, as a result, medical specialties such as geriatrics and psychiatry have been grossly underfunded and lack the support needed to properly care for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Susan Mintzberg is a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Work. Her research explores the role of families in the mental healthcare system.

susan.mintzberg [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)

José Morais, Full Professor and Director, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine

“It is well known that the elderly is at a higher risks to suffer from the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. This risk is due to aging effects on the immune system, but also chronic diseases, poor level of physical function, malnutrition and medications. Those who have mobility and cognitive issues do worse because of difficulty coping with hygiene and distancing measures. The physical distancing will have more detrimental effects of older adults with dementia as they don’t understand what is going on and suffer from lack of social contact At this stage of the pandemic, it is time to look at the collateral effects of lack of services and socialization to those who are home bound (a much greater number of elderly than those in CHSLDs).”

José Morais is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine. He is also an Associate Member of the School of Human Nutrition. His research interest relates to the assessment of protein metabolism and cellular regulation at whole-body and muscle levels and of protein requirements with age, frailty and diabetes using stable isotopes methodology.

jose.morais [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Portuguese, Spanish)

Tamara Sussman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

“CHSLDs have been under resourced for a long time and it is regrettable that it took this kind of outbreak to raise public awareness regarding this issue. Family members play a key role in supporting care in CHSLDs, so the fact they have been deemed as 'non-essential' is problematic. Additionally, more and more people are dealing with the death of loved ones and may not have adequate advance care planning measures in place to handle such situations. In the context of COVID-19, conversations about death are even more pressing. Not only should we be fighting to reduce mortality we should be advocating for people to have important conversations with their loved ones about their fears, preferences and the realities of end-of-life care in the current situation."

Tamara Sussman is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. Drawing on over ten years of experience working with adults and families managing health related issues in both hospital and community settings, her research focuses on how health services and systems impact older adults and their family members.

tamara.sussman [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Mark Yaffe, Full Professor, Department of Family Medicine

“Elder abuse, characterized as an act (or acts) of omission or commission that can lead to an array of negative consequences (physical, psychological, financial, etc.) for an older adult, commonly occurs within a relationship or during an encounter where there is an expectation of trust. The COVID-19 pandemic may accentuate conditions that might put seniors at risk for abuse and this merits attention. Some published literature on elder mistreatment makes a distinction between bad outcomes with a specific caregiver and those that appear associated with systems' or institutional limitations.”

Mark Yaffe is a Full Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a member of the Department of Family Medicine at the St. Mary’s Hospital Center. His work on elder abuse is acknowledged internationally, as he has led an interdisciplinary team that developed and validated WHO-recognized Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI), a simple tool to assist family physicians in detecting elder abuse.

mark.yaffe [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Sustainability and climate change 

Elena Bennett, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resource Sciences and School of Environment

“I am heartened by the speed with which humans have responded to the COVID-19 crisis. I think the tools people have developed to deal with the pandemic may be helpful in confronting climate change and other important environmental issues. The mutual aid efforts that have sprung up to get groceries or make masks for vulnerable people show the potential for community action. The call for people to stay home — and the measurable impact of social distancing efforts when people comply — reveals the importance of official actions and the need for every person to participate. In the months and years to come, when a vaccine is developed and the pandemic is contained, I hope people won’t forget these bright spots - that we will take these good things and hold onto them and figure out how to steer them toward the larger climate conversation. I also know that, while individuals and community groups can make progress, we also clearly need strong and supportive interventions from civil society and government to help push in the right direction. One group alone can’t make this happen.”

Elena Bennett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the School of Environment. She is an ecosystem ecologist and the co-founder of the group Seeds of Good Anthropocenes, which collects and studies the ways that people address environmental problems.

elena.bennett [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Dror Etzion, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

COVID-19 is an opportunity to reset the Canadian economy, to make it more socially just and environmentally sustainable. A huge, often overlooked, constituency is small and medium enterprises (SMEs). They are well-positioned to offer Canadians the products and services they need in a way that supports society and restores planetary health.”

Dror Etzion is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Organizations at the Desautels Faculty of Management and an Associate Member of the School of the Environment. His work suggests that managing for sustainability through local, open, emergent initiatives increases the recruitment of diverse stakeholders, fosters creativity, and yields impactful outcomes.

dror.etzion [at] mcgill.ca (English, Hebrew)

Women and gender

Claudia Mitchell, James McGill Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

It is rather concerning to see how physical isolation is impacting girls and women, especially in situations of domestic tensions and financial worries. During this time, it is even harder for girls and women to speak out against these issues. While we are trying to ‘flatten the curve’ with lockdown measures, we are dealing with a less noticed ‘shadow pandemic’ characterized as the harm inflicted on girls and women, as noted by colleagues working on gender-based violence all over the world.”

Claudia Mitchell is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and the Director of the Institute of Human Development and Well-being. Her research in relation to youth, gender and sexuality, girls’ education, teacher identity, and critical areas of international development linked to gender and HIV and AIDS uses visual and other participatory methodologies.

claudia.mitchell [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Shaheen Shariff, James McGill Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for women with young children has been bitter sweet. The last six months provided wonderful, unprecedented opportunities to bond with children daily, due to work from home restrictions and closed schools. Nonetheless, the challenges of fulfilling employment and career commitments while raising children in the current economic climate have restricted many women’s freedom to thrive and reach their career potentials. Although research will need to confirm this, preliminary media reports indicate that in addition to working from home, women continue to carry the larger share of housekeeping and childcare responsibilities. Thus, it is incumbent on government, institutions and corporations to ensure working women (especially those from marginalized and racialized groups) are not prevented from reaching and breaking glass ceilings that were well within reach just last year. It is essential that affordable child care, financial, educational and flexible career supports are expanded and sustained to ensure that women’s equality in the workplace never slides backwards again.”

Shaheen Shariff is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and an Associate Member of the Faculty of Law. Her work is centred on the intersection of education, law and policy, with a focus on constitutional, human rights and civil law as it impacts educational institutions. She is best known for her work on cyberbullying, and sexual violence as symptoms of deeply ingrained systemic discrimination and societal power imbalances (intersecting forms of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and xenophobia).

shaheen.shariff [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Policy

Canada | China | Health policy | International relations | United States 

Canada

Daniel Béland, James McGill Professor, Department of Political Science and Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

“Beyond public health issues per se, the COVID-19 crisis is creating major socio-economic challenges which different countries and levels of government must address very swiftly. Assessing the economic and social policies governments put forward to reduce the negative socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on businesses, individuals, and families is crucial in order to see whether these new policies will make a positive difference in our lives.”

Daniel Béland is the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and James McGill Professor of Political Science. Since 2012, he has held the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy (Tier 1) at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. He specializes in the fields of Canadian and comparative politics, as well as the study of public policy, including social policy.

daniel.beland [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Frédéric Mégret, Full Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Faculty of Law

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a new light on the mobility of Canadians both back to Canada and abroad. This leads to fundamental questions, such as under what conditions may Canadians return or be repatriated and how does the pandemic impact various communities in Canada and their ability to cross borders.

Frédéric Mégret is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Law and a William Dawson Scholar. He held the Canada Research Chair on the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism from 2006 to 2015. He has a long-term interest in developing theories about the nature and history of international criminal justice.

frederic.megret [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Johanne Poirier, Full Professor, Faculty of Law

Federalism yields both advantages and disadvantages in handling complex challenges such as a pandemic. We see different federal systems reacting in different ways. In Canada, in the short term, there has been what we could call ‘federal civility’. Tensions that existed before will not disappear and the opacity of all intergovernmental relations in this context should be of concern.”

Johanne Poirier is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Law and holds the inaugural Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism. Her research explores various aspects of federalism, such as the protection of minorities (notably linguistic ones), intergovernmental relations and cooperative federalism.

johanne.poirier3 [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

China

Juan Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

“The global pandemic and varying responses from governments have provided the Chinese government a rare opportunity to showcase its capability for effective governance, to contrast with the United States and question the utility of "democracy," and to capitalize on racial discrimination against Chinese overseas and alienate the West from its citizens.”

Juan Wang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. Her areas of interest include contentious politics, authoritarian politics, and law and politics with a country focus of China.

juan.wang2 [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Health policy 

Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Associate Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and School of Environment

The ‘science of happiness’ provides a new and extraordinarily relevant tool for making policy decisions (cost-benefit) about COVID-19 and COVID-19-policy impacts. Moreover, the home confinement has likely impressed on or reminded people of what matters most in life, making this an opportune time for the trend amongst governments to align increasingly their policy processes towards an accountability to human outcomes.”

Chris Barrington-Leigh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the School of Environment and an Associate Member in the Department of Economics. His research makes use of subjective well-being reports to address the relative importance of social and community-oriented aspects of life as compared with material consumption.

chris.barrington-leigh [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Eugene Bereza, Senior Ethics Consultant, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)

“In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has acted as an ethics magnifying lens – it has focused our attention and compelled us to consider difficult issues that are normally distilled through the luxury of a much more protracted timeline. It has compelled us to appreciate the essence of our fundamental values as a society, at the same time as it has required us to confront challenges head on and make difficult decisions we have been avoiding.”

Eugene Bereza is family physician with a background in literature, music therapy, palliative care and bioethics. He is the former director of the MUHC Centre for Applied Ethics. He remains actively engaged in academic medical ethics, clinical ethics, research ethics and health policy development across the spectrum of care in Quebec through his work at the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, the MUHC, the Montreal Neurological Institute, as well as many provincial and national, professional organizations.

eugene.bereza [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work

This pandemic does not affect us all equally. We know that COVID-19 has exacerbated the conditions of certain communities who already experience systemic inequality, poverty and discrimination. Our failure to collect disaggregated data on race and income is unethical and prevents us from providing a racially equitable response to the immediate needs of these communities while simultaneously ensuring their medium and long-term survival post-crisis and beyond.”

Alicia Boatswain-Kyte is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. With over ten years of clinical experience working with marginalized individuals, families and groups, her research interests center around the systemic oppression of racialized individuals and how this contributes to their unequal representation within systems of social control.

alicia.kyte [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Jay S. Kaufman, Full Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

It is difficult to make rational social and health policies to confront the current pandemic without good surveillance of the population, an understanding of the patterns of transmission, and the risk factors for infection and severe disease. Valid and representative data are the foundation on which sensible policies can be constructed.”

Jay S. Kaufman is a Full Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, a full member of the Centre on Population Dynamics and an Associate Member of the Institute for Health and Social Policy. His work focuses on social epidemiology, analytic methodology, causal inference and on a variety of health outcomes including perinatal outcomes and infectious diseases.

jay.kaufman [at] mcgill.ca (English, Spanish)

Nicholas King, Associate Professor, Department of Social Studies of Medicine

"The COVID-19 pandemic has been shaped not only by the decisions of individual leaders, but also by the larger institutional arrangements and cultures around evidence and expertise. Effectively responding to COVID-19 requires a commitment to producing, understanding, and acting on the best available evidence, fully recognizing its attendant uncertainties and accepting accountability for decisions. We must look to designing democratic institutions that cherish and maintain these values."

Nicholas King is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and an Associate Member in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Institute of Health of Social Policy and the Max Bell School of Public Policy. He conducts research on public health, ethics, policy, health information, inequalities, and measurement.

nicholas.king [at] mcgill.ca (English) 

Arijit Nandi, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Interim Director, Institute of Health and Social Policy

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected socially disadvantaged populations and highlighted serious gaps in our social safety nets. Social policies, including income support and paid sick leave policies, are among the key instruments that we have to mitigate the adverse social, economic, and population health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Arijit Nandi is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and the Institute of Health and Social Policy, where he serves as the Interim Director. He holds the Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Health and his scholarly work focuses on the understanding the effects of programs and policies on health and health inequalities in a global context using experimental and quasi-experimental approaches.

arijit.nandi [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Robert Platt, Full Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Pediatrics

“We are overwhelmed with data regarding COVID-19. Every day brings new studies of potential treatments, and of the risks and benefits of medications that many of us are taking. It is critical to distill the information coming from this research, and sort the signal from the noise.”

Robert Platt is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Pediatrics. He holds the first Albert Boehringer Chair in Pharmacoepidemiology . His research focuses on improving methods for the study of medications using administrative data, with an emphasis on methods for causal inference and a substantive focus on medications in pregnancy.

robert.platt [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, Full Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Sociology

“Physical distancing is a privilege not available to all, especially in urban settings. This, along with the shocks to the economy (job loss) mean the epidemic will likely exacerbate social inequalities.”

Amélie Quesnel-Vallée is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Sociology and the Director of the McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms. She also holds the Canada Research Chair on Policies and Health Inequalities. Her research examines the contribution of social policies to the development of social inequalities in health over the life course.

amelie.quesnelvallee [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Vanessa Rampton, Branco Weiss Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Philosophy and Institute for Health and Social Policy

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has exposed social problems that, by their very nature, go beyond science: deep-rooted health and social inequalities, our difficulties coping with uncertainty, and our entanglement with nature. Science still has a role to play in addressing these systemic issues, but it is a supporting one to the humanities and social sciences.”

Vanessa Rampton is a Branco Weiss Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for Health and Social Policy. Her scholarly works covers how philosophical ideas are adapted and reappropriated in concrete (historical, institutional) situations, and what these transformations can tell us about the ideas themselves. Her current project examines ideas of progress in contemporary medicine.

vanessa.rampton [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Daniel Weinstock, James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law

We need to cultivate our 'moral capital' by making sure that we are always taking into account the vulnerable among us when we make policy. Older people seem to be the most vulnerable sub-group, but in other sets of circumstances that might not be the case. Vulnerability, and not any fixed criterion like age, should always be something that we keep an eye on in making ethical policy.”

Daniel Weinstock is a James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Law. He has been an active participant in public policy in Quebec, having been a member from 1997 to 1999 of the Ministry of Education working group on religion in public schools, and from 2003 to 2008, the founding director of Quebec’s Public Health Ethics Committee. His research explores the governance of certain types of liberal democracies, and the effects of religious and cultural diversity from an ethical perspective on the political and ethical philosophy of public policy.

daniel.weinstock2 [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Ma'n H. Zawati, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics and Executive Director, Centre of Genomics and Policy

The creation of new COVID-19 projects that necessitates recruiting patients or participants requires a solid, anticipatory governance. Mobile health technology has been used internationally to prevent further spread, monitor cases, provide general information and as a notification tool. These initiatives are to be lauded, but important consent, privacy and access safeguards need to be put in place so that these applications are used safely and responsibly. Ensuring that the proper policy pillars are in place is therefore crucial.

Ma’n H. Zawati is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Executive Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy. His research concentrates on the legal, ethical and policy dimensions of health research and clinical care, with a special focus on biobanking, data sharing, professional liability, and the use of novel technologies (e.g. mobile health apps, WGS, WES) in both the clinical and research settings. In recent times, he has undertaken COVID-19 research in the legal and policy issues surrounding the use of mobile health technology apps for symptom checking and in research participant recruitment.

man.zawati [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

International relations

Leonardo Baccini, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

There is a great deal of variation in how governments are responding to the pandemic. This variation can be explained by the various incentives being set in place by politicians seeking reelection. This is because COVID-19 and related policies will be the most salient topics in future elections. In short, we see politics as usual in these unusual times.”

Leonardo Baccini is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. His research focuses on international political economy and comparative political economy.

leonardo.baccini [at] mcgill.ca (English, Italian)

Rex Brynen, Full Professor, Department of Political Science

When the pandemic is over, the response of the WHO—like that of various governments—needs to be reviewed. Undoubtedly this will identify mistakes and room for improvement. However, the WHO has been an essential part of international efforts against COVID-19, and its broader work on international public health since 1948 has saved tens of millions of lives. It deserves support.”

Rex Brynen is a Full Professor in the Department of Political Science. He has served as a member of the Policy Staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs, as an intelligence analyst for the Privy Council Office, and as a consultant to various governments, UN agencies, and the World Bank. He specializes in politics, security, and development in the Middle East.

rex.brynen [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Raphael Lencucha, Associate Professor, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy

"The WHO is always in a precarious position when it needs to coordinate efforts among their member states, particularly during an emergency. However, the WHO plays a crucial role in coordinating a timely and evidence-informed response to COVID-19, and other transnational threats to human health.”

Raphael Lencucha is an Associate Professor in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. He is interested in the social, political and economic context of public policy making and implementation and is currently conducting research examining the development and implementation of Canada’s first federal recovery-oriented mental health strategy. He is also engaged in research that examines the intersection of public health policymaking (tobacco control) and economic policy in Brazil, Kenya, Malawi, the Philippines and Zambia.

raphael.lencucha [at] mcgill.ca (English)

United States 

Jason Opal, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History and Classical Studies

“The federal structure of North American polities (especially the United States and Canada, but also Mexico) has shaped the response, in that provinces and states have largely decided what to do by themselves. This is not good from an epidemiological point of view – the situation is doubly bad in the U.S. due to the uncoordinated nature of the health care industry and the fact that most people have access to care via their employers, rather than via the state. In other words, losing one's job also means losing one's health insurance. Moreover, President Trump has made his cavalier attitude to the virus a kind of cultural litmus test, another affront in America's profound moral and political divide."

Jason Opal is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Classical Studies, where he teaches and writes about the US Constitution in different periods of American history. His work tries to integrate social, cultural, and intellectual history and to shed light on such broad topics as nationalism, capitalism, democracy and U.S.-Canada foreign relations.

jason.opal [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Economy

Economic impacts | Health care services and spending

Economic impacts 

Rui Castro, Full Professor, Department of Economics

“The public policy response to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic needs to emphasize three priority areas. First and foremost, massive spending in public health, to address the root of the problem. Second, expansion of social insurance policies, to alleviate the economic burden of the hardest-hit individuals. Third, liquidity provision to individuals and firms, to help them overcome this temporary shock and prevent the destruction of viable businesses.”

Rui Castro is a Full Professor in the Department of Economics. His research is on macroeconomics with connections to other areas such as economic development, labor economics, international economics, political economy, and finance.

rui.castro [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Nicolas Gendron-Carrier, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Small businesses tend to have less than 2-months of cash on hand and are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks of this magnitude. Given how long the crisis is expected to last, small business owners have had to make difficult decisions, including laying off staff and shutting down operations. The pandemic has already caused massive dislocation among small businesses and the damage to the economy is likely to outlast stay-at-home orders."

Nicolas Gendron-Carrier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics. His scholarly work pertains to cities and local labour markets.

nicolas.gendron-carrier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Elena Obukhova, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

Entrepreneurial start-ups are an important engine for Montreal’s economy. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have devastating effects on many of these ventures. Yet, some start-ups will survive and even thrive by pivoting to new business models.”

Elena Obukhova is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management. As an economic sociologist whose research focuses on how relationships, gender, politics and other social processes shape market outcomes, she examines the value of social connections in job search and what enables individuals and organizations to act in non-conformist fashion.

elena.obukhova [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Christopher Ragan, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Director, Max Bell School of Public Policy

“The typical government response to recession is to stimulate the economy and get people back to work. But this is completely different. Getting people back to work is not the solution here. We need people to stay at home, but we also need to provide income relief.”

Christopher Ragan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the Director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy. He is the Chair of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, a group of Canadian economists seeking to broaden the discussion of environmental pricing reform beyond the academic sphere and into the realm of practical policy application. His research and academic writing is largely focused on Canadian public policy challenges, and since 2007, the policy responses to the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

christopher.ragan [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Thomas Joseph Rivera, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

"In order to mitigate the economic effects of the current pandemic, governments around the world have convinced markets that they are willing and able to provide copious amounts of support for businesses and households. Yet, the optimism we see now seems largely founded on beliefs of a swift economic recovery which governments cannot entirely guarantee. If we enter a period of prolonged economic recovery – say due to a large second wave of infections – then this will test the credibility of government intervention to prop up markets, creating a new era for post 2007-2009 crisis management."

Thomas Joseph Rivera is an Assistant Professor of Finance in the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research focusses on banking, financial stability, incomplete information and regulation of financial institutions.

thomas.rivera [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Health care services and spending  

Leslie Breitner, Senior Faculty Lecturer, Desautels Faculty of Management and Academic Director, International Masters for Health Leadership

The COVID-19 crisis has given rise to the exploration of ‘blind spots’ in the local and national health care systems. Rather than being reactive, we must think ahead and be in an anticipatory mode. This includes thinking about what happens to rural areas with regard to health care delivery, what to do when structured organizations simply cannot respond rapidly, and the collateral damage of non-COVID-19 patients and victims.”

Leslie Breitner is a Senior Faculty Lecturer at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Director of the International Master’s Program for Health Leadership. She is an experienced teacher in distance learning courses and has also taught and acted as a consultant to medical schools, teaching hospitals, foundations, and nonprofit organizations on issues related to financial management, integrated health delivery, and strategic planning.

leslie.breitner [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Yichuan (Daniel) Ding, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely change the healthcare delivery process in the next 3 to 5 years. A rise in interest in the management of hospitals or other public sectors can already be observed and will continue into the post-COVID-19 world.”

Yichuan (Daniel) Ding is an Assistant Professor of Health Analytics and Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research interests include optimization, queueing, and statistics, as well as their applications in public sectors, including cadaver kidney exchange and allocation policies, affordable housing management, emergency department operations, outpatient and surgical scheduling.

daniel.ding [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Erin Strumpf, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

“The sweet spot is taking action to limit the spread of the disease and impact on healthcare systems and on population health, while simultaneously minimizing the costs of restricting economic activity.”

Erin Strumpf is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. Her research in health economics focuses on measuring the impacts of policies designed to improve the delivery of health care services and improve health outcomes. She examines the effects on health care spending and health outcomes overall, and on inequalities across groups.

erin.strumpf [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)

Business

Airline industry | Buying localSupply chainTelework and remote work

Airline industry

John Gradek, Faculty Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies

Over the last several weeks, Canadian airlines have announced a resumption of both domestic and international services which reflect their belief of pent-up demand for air travel and the willingness of the Canadian travelling public to resume travel by air. International travel restrictions remain in force as countries continue to scan the effectiveness of pandemic control practices and loosen quarantine and entry conditions for those countries demonstrating progress in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Canadian travelers looking to embark on air travel should be wary of purchasing non-domestic travel in the next 30-60 days, particularly when purchasing non-refundable tickets, as such operations might be subject to change on short notice due to continuing or potentially new restrictions.”

John Gradek is lecturing in the Diploma program in Integrated Aviation Management as well as in both the certificate and diploma programs of Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Operations Management. He has held senior roles at Air Canada in operations, marketing and planning and has worked in the development and the delivery of commercial airline management programs for the International Aviation Management Training Institute.

john.gradek [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Karl Moore, Associate Professor, Desautels School of Management

"This is the greatest crisis that the airline and aerospace industry has ever faced. It will result in dramatic changes for the industry worldwide."

Karl Moore is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management. He is an international expert in the airline and aerospace industry and has taught, consulted and advised the Canadian Government, IATA, ICAO, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air Canada, CAE and Bombardier, among others.

karl.moore [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Buying local

Charles de Brabant, Executive Director, Bensadoun School of Retail Management, Desautels Faculty of Management

“Le Panier Bleu, a new local business registry launched by the Quebec government, generated immediate interest with almost 3 million queries in less than 24 hours, with 1170 companies already listed. These figures seem to demonstrate a community craze among Quebecers to buy locally. This movement in retail and in our daily lives had already begun prior to current events – it has increased in Quebec since the beginning of the crisis, as it has in the rest of the world. As human beings, we have a real need to belong to a community, especially during crises.”

Charles de Brabant joined McGill University in 2017 to co-lead the creation and the development of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management whose ambition is to be the leading academic institution in the world dedicated to the future of retail. With over 25 years of experience mostly working in Europe and most recently in China and South East Asia, his passions and expertise sit at the crossroads of people, development, executive education and consulting in strongly branded and fast-growing retail environments.

charles.debrabant [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Pascal Thériault, Faculty Lecturer, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

In these times of uncertainty on our food supply, the notion of self sufficiency is more present than ever. Canada is one of the largest exporters of agricultural products, yet we have a portion of our population unable to have adequate access to food. As a society we must question our current model which relies on just in time delivery and the lowest cost of inputs. We must also adequately value the cost of food and agri-food sector jobs.”

Pascal Thériault is a Faculty Lecturer in the Farm Management and Technology Program and the Director of Community Relations at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. A trained agricultural economist, his expertise includes agri-food marketing, entrepreneurship, farm business management, food waste, international trade and value chain management.

pascal.theriault [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Supply chain 

Maxime Cohen, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management and Co-Director, McGill Retail Innovation Lab

As the world rallies to contain the spread of COVID-19 among populations, consumers continue to adapt to the new normal, characterized by stringent physical distancing and self-quarantining measures. Few aspects of consumer behaviour will be left unchanged over the long term. Understanding and preparing for these changes will be critical for a retail industry that was already well attuned to rapid and evolving transformation.”

Maxime Cohen is an Associate Professor of Retail Management and Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Co-Director of the McGill Retail Innovation Lab. His core expertise lies at the intersection of data science and operations management.

maxime.cohen [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Yu Ma, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“The retail industry has to be prepared for the multifaceted and profound impact of the outbreak. Consumers are stocking up essentials but cutting spending on other goods and personal service. Global supply chains are disrupted. More people and organizations are moving towards online or remote shopping, working, education and entertainment.”

Yu Ma is an Associate Professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management and a Bensadoun Faculty Scholar. His research interest includes food marketing, retailing and big data analytics. Using consumer purchase data and advanced econometric and statistical models, he studies how consumers react to various marketing incentives.

yu.ma [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Ashesh Mukherjee, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

The Internet has made other people’s panic buying much more visible. Online news from around the world highlights shortages of products; the moment we access such content in our Facebook feed, we are automatically shown similar stories in future news feeds. This creates an illusion that everyone is hoarding, which prompts us to do the same. Hoarding is a self-fulfilling prophecy: people who hear about possible shortages buy more, which causes merchandise to disappear from shelves and makes the shortage seem real.”

Ashesh Mukherjee is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Desautels Faculty of Management, where he teaches consumer behavior and marketing management. His research focuses on marketing communications, word-of-mouth, online behaviour and pro-social behaviour, including the use of scarcity in advertising, the impact of product advisors on consumer decision-making and behavior in peer-to-peer markets such as Airbnb and Uber.

ashesh.mukherjee [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Javad Nasiry, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“The sudden spike in demand, whether for medical supplies or consumer goods, has caught supply chain managers by surprise. Supply chains are resilient enough to weather the short-term consequences and catch up with demand. However, labour markets that are affected by sickness, strikes, and layoffs can jeopardize the short-term and, more critically, the long-term response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Javad Nasiry is an Associate Professor of Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His main research interests are in behavioral operations, supply chain management, retail operations, operations-marketing interface, and empirical operations-finance interface. His work in behavioral operations elaborates on whether and how psychological phenomena such as reference effects may affect aggregate variables (e.g., market demand) and their implications on firms' operational policies especially in pricing, inventory, and assortment.

javad.nasiry [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Telework and remote work  

Marie-Lyne Grenier, Faculty Lecturer, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy

“Globally, many workers and students are adapting to the shift to working and learning from home. This shift comes with particular risks to one’s physical and mental health. Ensuring an ergonomic working or learning space can decrease the risk for physical and mental health difficulties. Resources to help guide workers and students are abundant online. However, sifting through these resources to determine evidence-based ‘best practices’ is much more challenging and yet vital to preventing further risks to workers’ physical and mental health. Tips for how to set-up an ergonomic space that is based on sound evidence should be prioritized for at-home workers and learners to decrease health risks during this period of social distancing.”

Marie-Lyne Grenier is an Occupational Therapist and Faculty Lecturer at the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy. She is also an ergonomic specialist and a consultant.

marie-lyne.grenier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Jean-Nicolas Reyt, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

Business leaders are increasingly considering remote work as a long-term alternative, so as to reduce their real estate footprint. Managers who have no experience with remote workers face important challenges, such as monitoring performance, maintaining employee motivation, and onboarding new team members. Organizations need to redefine what "management" means in a world where employees work remotely.

Jean-Nicolas Reyt is an Assistant Professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research focuses on the relationship between employees' mental representations of their work and important work outcomes including creativity, exploratory learning, and interpersonal influence. He also studies mobile technology-facilitated work and other organizational factors that influence mental representations.

jean-nicholas.reyt [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Labour

Inequality and job loss | Labour marketMigrant workers | Nonstandard work 

Inequality and job loss

Lisa Cohen, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“Job loss is only one of the many effects of COVID-19 on work and workers. These effects cascade beyond accelerating the ongoing work-from-home movement. Some of these changes could persist well beyond the pandemic itself.”

Lisa Cohen is an Associate Professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management. Prior to joining Desautels, she was a faculty member at the London Business School, the Yale School of Management and the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Irvine, where she taught in the areas of strategic human resources, organizational behavior and communications.

lisa.cohen2 [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Barry Eidlin, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

“The COVID-19 crisis is exposing and exacerbating previously existing social problems. In a context of wage stagnation, rising household debt and growing inequality, few people have the means to absorb the shock of suddenly losing their livelihoods. At the same time, groups of workers deemed 'unskilled' just a few weeks ago are now considered 'essential' to basic social functioning. They are being put in harm’s way every day so that the rest of us can remain fed, clothed, and sheltered as we isolate. In the near future, those without work need immediate relief without restrictions, while those still working need proper protection and pay commensurate with their essential work. In the longer term, the crisis shows that governments can think much more broadly about providing for people’s basic needs. We can use this as an opportunity to fix the inequities that exacerbated the crisis for so many.”

Barry Eidlin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. As a comparative historical sociologist, his research explores the changing relationship between social mobilization, political processes, and ideology in advanced capitalist democracies.

barry.eidlin [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

John-Paul Ferguson, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“The restrictions on economic activity that we have to observe to fight this virus will land disproportionately on those people more marginally employed. The way we try to remedy that — specifically the forms economic stimulus can take — will have to look different than what was employed, for example, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis in the United States. In the end, subsidies to employers are likely to leave contract workers out in the cold.”

John-Paul Ferguson is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour in the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research focuses on careers, labor markets, and employment segregation. In addition to his academic work, he has prior experience with the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, and the U.S. Department of State.

john-paul.ferguson [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Labour market

Francesco Amodio, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Institute for the Study of International Development

“When it comes to labor market relief measures, we are seeing governments around the world adopting one or a combination of the following two approaches. In the first one, the government lets firms lay off workers, then pays out employment insurance or benefits or other cash transfers. The second approach is to have the government subsidizing wages in order to avoid layoffs. As for Canada, the new Emergency Response Benefit (ERB) is in line with the first approach. The 75% wage subsidy for small and medium businesses belongs to the second approach. There are pros and cons to each of these measures.”

Francesco Amodio is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics and the Institute for the Study of International Development. His research focuses on labour economics, development economics, and political economy. He studies market imperfections and their impact on the productivity and efficiency of organizations.

francesco.amodio [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Fabian Lange, Full Professor, Department of Economics

"Nobody knows how large the risks from reopening the economy are. A strategy of supervised randomization promises to control the risk of opening sectors while at the same time to economize on scarce testing capacities."

Fabian Lange is a Full Professor in the Department of Economics and holds the Canada Research Chair in Labour and Personnel Economics. He is also a Research Associate in the NBER’s Labour Studies Program, and co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Economics. He studies how changing mobility in the labor force interacts with the business cycle and the process by which individuals get shut out of the labor market.

fabian.lange [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Migrant workers

Jill Hanley, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

“It is a critical question of both human rights and public health that migrant workers in Canada get access to all the same services and supports as other workers at this time. They need free access to healthcare, regardless of their status, and they need access to the income security measures that will allow them to self-isolate if necessary or to make ends meet if they lose their jobs in the economic downturn. These measures are important for the workers themselves, for their families who rely on their income, and for public health in general.”

Jill Hanley is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work and the Scientific Director of the Sherpa Research Institute on Migration, Health and Social Services. Her work focuses on closing the gaps between policies and practice concerning the social rights of migrant populations.

jill.hanley [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)

Nonstandard work

Matthew Corritore, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

"We still have so much to learn about gig work: what kinds of workers do it? To what extent are workers replacing other types of employment with gig work? Is gig work changing the jobs and tasks that workers are willing to perform? The emergence of COVID-19 raises even more questions, because demand is likely to increase for some types of gig work, such as food delivery, but decrease for other types like ride sharing and housecleaning. The health and safety of these gig workers is a concern, especially since they lack access to the many benefits and protections afforded to regular employees."

Matthew Corritore is an Assistant Professor of Strategy & Organization in the Desautels Faculty of Management. He investigates questions related to corporate culture and nonstandard work, including computational techniques that leverage the power of big data and natural language processing (i.e. text analysis) to measure complex social phenomena.

matthew.corritore [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Chantal Westgate, Senior Faculty Lecturer, Desautels Faculty of Management

“For many people the gig economy is just an opportunity to make extra money. But according to studies, the gig economy is the primary source of income for one third of its workers. There are impacts, both mental and physical, resulting from being involved in the gig economy that range from underemployment , to a lack of control over one’s hours, to stress from working more than one job, and reduced well-being due to the uncertainties of working in this sector.”

Chantal Westgate teaches a variety of organizational behavior courses at the undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and executive training levels. She has provided custom business and executive training programs for McGill's International Executive Institute, Ubisoft, Air Canada, CN, Cirque Du Soleil, and more. She’s also been a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide.

chantal.westgate [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Research

Artificial intelligence | Crowdsourcing and open science  | Health statistics and dataImmune responseTesting | Treatments and drugs

Artificial intelligence 

Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine

“Artificial intelligence and technologies could provide us substantial assistance in prevention, early detection, and management of COVID-19. This is the time we need to be more innovative than we have ever been, and make the best use of AI and the available technology to improve the situation and add value. In my team, we are working with international collaborators to use the power of AI and technology for prevention and management of COVID-19.”

Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and an affiliated scientist at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital. With an interdisciplinary background, she is interested in the development, evaluation, and implementation of clinical decision support tools and patient decision aids, as well as integrating human-centered AI tools in primary health care. Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi was awarded a grant by the Brocher Foundation of Switzerland for the “AI-COVID19” project, a collaboration between clinicians, researchers and the World Health Organization to better inform the next phase of COVID-19.

samira.rahimi [at] mcgill.ca (English, Farsi, French, Turkish)

Crowdsourcing and open science

Guillaume Bourque, Full Professor, Department of Human Genetics and Director of Bioinformatics, McGill Genome Centre

“There are so many great scientific activities and initiatives that have been launched in the context of COVID-19 that at times it is hard to find what you’re looking for. With the portal created by myself and Tara Moriarty (University of Toronto), we are using crowdsourcing to aggregate initiatives and help scientists and clinicians find volunteers, reagents and other relevant information.”

Guillaume Bourque is a Full Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Director of Bioinformatics at the McGill Genome Centre. He is a project lead, in collaboration with Tara Moriarty from the University of Toronto, of the national COVID-19 Resources Canada portal, a central hub designed to help those involved in COVID-19 R&D in Canada to locate expertise and equipment in a timely manner.

guillaume.bourque [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Maziar Divangahi, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

It appears that SARS-CoV-2 will be with us for the long run, and translating discoveries in the laboratory to effective treatments and vaccines in the clinics is our only exit strategy from this pandemic. As the only hierarchy in science are results that stand the test of time and those that don’t, cross-fertilization of ideas between epidemiologists, immunologists, virologists, geneticists and many other research disciplines is critical in order to develop a roadmap to that exit.

Maziar Divangahi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Associate Director of the Program for Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). He is an internationally recognized pulmonary immunologist and the overarching focus of his research program is to investigate the regulatory mechanisms involved in innate and adaptive immunity against two major pulmonary pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, influenza virus (H1N1), and to understand the critical differences between protective and deleterious immune responses.

maziar.divangahi [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Richard Gold, James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law

The COVID-19 pandemic brings out the best and worst in humanity. As we develop new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the best of us share knowledge, tools, materials and drugs, greatly accelerating the process so that we all can return to a more regular life. Others, see a mirage: the opportunity to advance national interests over those of others. This is a mirage because, in a pandemic, we all fall and rise together. The opportunists take different forms: governments that seek to hoard a vaccine for its nationals, ignoring others; those who extort great sums in return for access to a drug or vaccine, usually developed at the public’s expense; those who make discoveries and do not share them broadly and quickly; and those who steal knowledge from others. The way to thwart the opportunists is simple: we need to share all knowledge and materials rapidly and agree not to obtain patent rights so that everyone, everywhere has access.”

Richard Gold is a James McGill Professor and is the founding Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy. He teaches in the area of intellectual property, international intellectual property, comparative intellectual property, innovation policy and intellectual property management. More recently, he became involved in the Viral Interruption Medicines Initiative (VIMI), a Canadian non-profit striving to retool the drug discovery and development process to rapidly develop new antiviral medicines for the future.

richard.gold2 [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Jason Karamchandani, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology

We will need more information to make evidence-based decisions. A significant portion of this information will come in the form of proper laboratory testing, both for the diagnosis of infection, and to determine evidence of immunity and other associate parameters, such as the duration of immunity.”

Jason Karamchandani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and a neuropathologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. His research employs bio-informatic data to identify and to characterize biomarkers relevant to classification and prognosis of brain tumors and neuromuscular disorders.

jason.karamchandani [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Chen Liang, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

"COVID-19 cases continue to surge worldwide. Only through concerted and aggressive efforts from the government, healthcare professionals, academia, industry, and public communities, can we halt this pandemic through accessible diagnosis, timely prevention, and effective treatment.

Cheng Liang is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital. He is well recognized for his earlier work on HIV-1 genomic RNA packaging and particle assembly.

chen.liang [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Selena Sagan, Associate Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology

“The research community has been extremely forthcoming with their data, journals are fast-tracking COVID-19 studies for publication, many researchers are teaming up to tackle the virus or support those who are participating in COVID-19 research, and the sheer pace at which the knowledge and data is being shared on a worldwide scale is really astonishing.”

Selena Sagan is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology. She holds the Canada Research Chair in RNA Biology and Viral Infections and her laboratory studies positive-strand RNA viruses of the Flaviviridae family (including Hepatitis C virus, Dengue virus and Zika virus) as well as negative-strand RNA viruses (including Respiratory Syncytial Virus). The main focus of her research program is RNA-RNA and protein-RNA interactions at the host-virus interface.

selena.sagan [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Health statistics and data

André Bilodeau, Adjunct Professor, Department of Family Medicine

Public health measures can be difficult to understand due to the range of actions involved. The process of knowledge building takes a lot of time, from rough data, theorization, experimentation, confrontation of contradictory data and finally through consensus to create a solid core of knowledge scientists can then relay to the population – which explains the ‘work in progress’ nature of the general understanding of public health measures.”

André Bilodeau is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the Course Director of Interprofessional Education (as part of the Physicianship Component) at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Campus Outaouais. Before joining McGill, he served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Montfort Hospital and also acted as a consultant on interprofessional collaboration for the National Cancer Control Committee of the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services. From 2008 to 2018, he was also responsible for the francophone section of the Professionalism and Ethics curriculum at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa.

andre.bilodeau [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

“Information about the epidemic is the cornerstone on which to build responses to the outbreak. Mathematical models can help understand epidemiological data, predict demand on health systems, and how best to mitigate the public health threat posed by COVID-19. More than ever, their results should be carefully appraised and interpreted in light of their inherent limitations.”

Mathieu Maheu-Giroux is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and an Associate Member of the Centre on Population Dynamics. His recent work has focused on impact evaluations of public health interventions, measurements and disease burden assessments, and behavioural interventions to control infectious diseases.

mathieu.maheu-giroux [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)

Immune response 

Jörg Fritz, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

“The current COVID-19 pandemic underlines the importance of understanding the functioning of our bodies’ immune system. Critics of vaccines can now see how lethal a world without a vaccine can be. It also highlights the fact that in a globalized society the development and distribution of vaccines for all infectious diseases is an essential cornerstone of a stable society.”

Jörg Fritz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and a primary member of the McGill University Research Centre on Complex Traits. He is currently working with international collaborators to better understand the immune response to COVID-19, defining how antiviral immunity functions at a molecular level, in order to develop tests to determine who is immune and inform vaccine development.

jorg.fritz [at] mcgill.ca (English, German)

Irah King, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

“The symptoms associated with COVID-19 range from mild cough to acute respiratory failure, but we still don’t know what factors determine disease severity. However, we do know that the vast microbial community living within the intestine, referred to as the microbiome, has a strong influence on our health. One of the most important functions of the microbiome is to regulate how the immune system responds to viruses, even those that infect our respiratory system. Because the composition of our gut microbiome can be changed by lifestyle choices such as diet, sleep patterns and drugs, it should not only be considered in how patients respond to current treatments for COVID-19, but should also be thought of as a target for interventions that limit disease severity.”

Irah King is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Canada Research Chair in Barrier Immunity. His current research builds on existing evidence that the gut microbiome affects our immune response to respiratory infection, that evidence of the disease shows up in fecal swabs and stool samples, and that COVID-19 patients with gastrointestinal symptoms often experience worse outcomes.

irah.king [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Caroline Wagner, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering

The future timing and burden of COVID-19 cases depends on many aspects, including factors that affect transmission rates (i.e. non-pharmaceutical interventions such as mask wearing, contact rates between individuals, and possibly climate and seasonality) as well as the dynamics of adaptive immunity against SARS-CoV-2. Currently we do not have a good picture of what adaptive immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or a potential vaccine looks like, in terms of the ability to get re-infected and retransmit the infection, but understanding this will be critical. In all cases, our models predict that even an only partially protective vaccine could substantially reduce future caseloads if widely deployed.”

Caroline Wagner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering. Her research interests include biomaterial design and characterization for disease applications, population-level and within-host models of infectious disease dynamics, as well as topics in health policy. Her most recent postdoctoral work at Princeton University combined topics from immunology, epidemiology, climate science, mathematical modeling, behavioural economics, and public health.

caroline.wagner [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Testing

Dominic Frigon, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering

Wastewater-based detection of the COVID-19 virus will allow us to monitor in real-time approximately 80% of the Quebec and Canadian populations at a fraction of the cost of doing the current targeted number individual tests. The monitoring would include asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic as well as symptomatic cases, which would allow a faster response of public health authorities. The technique could also allow us to have an unbiased sampling of the proportion of viral lineages circulating in the population, not only the ones associated from cases with the most severe symptoms.”

Dominic Frigon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, where he specializes in environmental engineering. His research aims at constructing mathematical models describing the dynamics and activity of microbial populations present in wastewater resource recovery systems. He is currently involved in the Canadian Coalition on Wastewater-Related COVID-19 Research and is leading a group of principal investigators from Quebec and members of the Quebec Water Management Research Centre, who is proposing a large project on wastewater-based epidemiology for COVID-19 and preparedness for following pandemics.

dominic.frigon [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

David Juncker, Full Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering

COVID-19 rapid tests could help contain the pandemic at a time when it is spreading out of control and our current testing regime is overwhelmed. Rapid testing is not as sensitive to diagnose infected persons, but is more accurate when it comes to identify contagious persons; contagious is of course the relevant public health factor when considering spreading. We need a concerted effort led by the government – a Marshall plan for rapid testing if you will – to help us get there as soon as possible.”

David Juncker is a Full Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and a Principal Investigator at the McGill Genome Centre. His research explores various facets of miniaturization and integration in biology and medicine, which includes the conception, engineering and utilization of novel micro and nanotechnologies for manipulating, stimulating and studying oligonucleotides, proteins, cells, and tissues.

david.juncker [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Michael Libman, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Screening is essential when trying to control an outbreak, and advances are being made almost weekly in terms of technology and cost, as well as capacity. However, the human resources needed to deal with the screening information are massive, especially once the sheer number of cases has been allowed to accelerate as we have seen recently.”

Michael Libman is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Director of the J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases at the McGill University Health Centre. His research is on tropical and travel related illness, with a particular focus on the epidemiology of imported infections. With the support of the McGill-led GeoSentinel network, which monitors travel-related illnesses in thousands of travelers, Michael Libman and his team will screen returning travelers and track the spread of COVID-19 in the many countries around the world that lack the medical infrastructure to diagnose coronavirus infections.

michael.libman [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Sara Mahshid, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering

“There is an urgent need for rapid and accurate diagnostic tools that provide information about the stage of the disease to individuals affected by COVID-19 at the point of need. The long waiting time of the current diagnostic approaches based on nasopharyngeal swab leaves affected individuals at high risk of respiratory infection and accelerates the spread of the disease.”

Sarah Mahshid is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and an Associate Member of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has developed a prototype that can potentially simplify testing of SARS-Cov2 RNA via a colorimetric approach, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture tests, and providing faster results for diagnostics of COVID-19.

sara.mahshid [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Mark Trifiro, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

"Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is typically used nowadays for diagnosing infections including viruses such as COVID-19. The updated PCR methodology introduces nanoparticle into the PCR reaction and a laser is employed to activate thermocycling a requirement for PCR. Not only does this new technique increases PCR efficiency allowing results in minutes rather than hours, it also allows the design of a battery operated compact portable PCR machine that can be used as a point of care device when the patient is first seen by a health professional for near instant diagnosis."

Mark Trifiro is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital. In collaboration with Andrew Kirk and Miltiadis Paliouras from the Faculty of Engineering, he has developed a revolutionary methodology to construct a portable diagnostic device. The testing platform would give results in minutes and would help enormously in infection control management of the COVID-19 outbreak and future pathogenic viral epidemics.

mark.trifiro [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Treatments and drugs

Jean Bourbeau, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Divisions of Experimental Medicine and Respiratory Medicine

The fight against COVID-19 must be waged on many fronts. Using immunomodulatory drugs to attenuate the COVID-19-associated cytokine storm may turn out to be an important advance in COVID-19 therapeutics.”

Jean Bourbeau is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine, as well as an Associate Member of the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and a respirologist at the Montreal Chest Institute. He is currently involved in a randomized clinical trial of a new therapy to prevent complications of COVID-19. In general, his research focuses on the impact of respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

jean.bourbeau [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Nicole Ezer, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

We know the COVID-19 virus starts by multiplying in the nose and progresses downwards to the lower parts of the airways and lungs. We hope that targeting the site of viral replication with inhaled and nasal ciclesonide will reduce early viral replication and decrease severity of COVID-19 illness.”

Nicole Ezer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, an Associate Member of the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and junior scientist in the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. She is the Principal Investigator of CONTAIN, a clinical trial of ciclesonide (a nasal inhaler used for asthma and nasal rhinitis) to possibly prevent mild cases of COVID-19 from worsening.

nicole.ezer [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Jonathan Kimmelman, James McGill Professor, Department of Social Studies of Medicine and Director, Biomedical Ethics Unit

Whether for COVID-19 or other diseases, vaccines and treatment development is slow and failure prone. Any treatments or vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 should be rigorously evaluated in clinical trials before deployment.”

Jonathan Kimmelman is a James McGill Professor in the Biomedical Ethics Unit and Department of Social Studies of Medicine. His research centers on the ethical, social, and policy challenges in testing novel medical technologies in human beings ("translational clinical research"). Current projects are investigating risk, prediction, validity and knowledge value across the trajectory of drug development.

jonathan.kimmelman [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Nicolas Moitessier, Full Professor, Department of Chemistry

“Developing a treatment will take time. Existing drugs will hopefully pass clinical trials and be made available at least as a temporary solution to the crisis. With second waves being observed in some countries, and potentially billions of cases and the possibility of being infected more than once, it is imperative for the drug to be affordable and accessible. The pool of existing and affordable drugs is rather small, and we need to consider the possibility that none of them will be effective. Several Canadian research groups are working on developing new treatments as an alternative. Considering this state of emergency, researchers and health professionals are racing as never before, and the challenge is to provide results as soon as possible while not cutting corners.”

Nicolas Moitessier is a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry. His current research interests integrate computational chemistry and organic/medicinal chemistry, spanning from software development to synthetic methodology development. He is currently investigating the use of a combination of computer calculations and laboratory testing to rapidly identify and validate molecules that block an enzyme that is essential to the COVID-19 virus.

nicolas.moitessier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Abhinav Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Divisions of Cardiology and Experimental Medicine

“There is controversy with regards to commonly prescribed cardiovascular drugs and their role in among patients with a COVID-19 infection. There are several on-going studies that will provide more data on the risk or benefit of these cardiovascular drugs in patients with COVID-19 infection, but there is much to be learned.”

Abhinav Sharma is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed to the Divisions of Cardiology and Experimental Medicine. His current research is trying to determine if a class of commonly-prescribed drugs used for patients with cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure contributes to outcomes among individuals with a COVID-19 infection, which would provide important guidance for managing heart disease and high blood pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

abhinav.sharma [at] mcgill.ca (English)

John White, Full Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology

There is good evidence from laboratory research that vitamin D can have direct antiviral activity, notably against respiratory viruses. Clinical evidence links vitamin D deficiency to severity of disease in COVID-19 patients and there is some that vitamin D supplementation can improve disease outcome.”

John White is a Full Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology. As a molecular biologist geneticist who has made numerous broad-ranging contributions to the fields of gene regulation, his works on the molecular mechanisms of vitamin D has opened up the field of the study of vitamin D as an inducer of antimicrobial inmate immunity in humans.

john.white [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Contact Information

Contact: 
Frederique Mazerolle
Organization: 
McGill University
Email: 
frederique.mazerolle [at] mcgill.ca
Office Phone: 
514-398-6693
Mobile Phone: 
514-617-8615
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