sherilee harper

EcoHealth Research with Indigenous Communities

Current Team Members

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Kate Bishop-Williams, PhD Candidate


Kaitlin Patterson, PhD Student

LJ Weber

Laura Jane Brubacher, PhD Student

Paola Alejandra Torres Slimming

Paola Torres Slimming, MD, PhD Candidate

Alexandra Sawatzky, PhD Student


Danielle Julien-Wright, DVM, PhD Candidate

Jen Jones for use 2015

Jen Jones, PhD Candidate

Jamie Snook, PhD Student

Sharon Edmunds-Potvin, PhD Student

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Stephanie Masina, MSc Candidate


Anna Manore, MSc Candidate


Manpreet Saini, MSc Candidate

Lindsay Day, MSc Candidate

Carlee Wright, MSc Candidate

Vivienne Steele, MSc Candidate

David Borish, MSc Candidate


Jacqueline Middleton, PhD Student

Nia King, Undergraduate Research Assistant and Thesis Student

Julia Bryson

Julia Bryson, Undergrad RA

Emily Nunez

Emily Nunez, Undergrad Thesis

Mackenzie Wilson, MPH Candidate

Isaac Bell, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jessica Purbrick, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Chloe Zivot, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Zainab Yeabu Kargbo, MD, MSc, Medical Research Associate

Kate Bishop-Williams

PhD Candidate, Epidemiology | 2014 – Current    

KBW headshotKate is a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph in the Department of Population Medicine (co-supervised by Drs. Harper and Sargeant). She completed an Honours Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Guelph in 2012 in Bio-Medical Science, and a Masters of Science in 2014 in Epidemiology. Kate’s undergraduate research focused primarily on gastrointestinal illnesses with a project on each of E. coli, Salmonella and the link between Johne’s disease in dairy cattle to Crohn’s disease in humans. Kate’s MSc introduced her to EcoHealth. Her thesis was titled: The Impact of Heat Waves in Rural Southern Ontario on Dairy Cow Mortality and Human Emergency Room Visits. Using statistical and epidemiological skills learned in her Masters, Kate is working on a project in Bwindi, Uganda, identifying seasonal and temporal patterns in acute respiratory infections and access to healthcare. Kate is particularly interested in the ability of clinical data to represent vulnerable populations.

Keywords:  Respiratory, Epidemiology, EcoHealth, Rural

Contact:    |     @kbishopwilliams 

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Kaitlin Patterson    

PhD Student, Epidemiology and International Development | 2015 – Current

Kate_website_picKate is a PhD student in the joint program in Population Medicine and International Development at the University of Guelph. Her Masters in Health Geography from McGill University (Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford) focused on food security among the Indigenous Batwa of Kanungu District, Uganda. The food insecurity reported by the Batwa is among the highest in the published literature. Kate values a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach and incorporates both quantitative and qualitative methods into her research. Kate is now shifting her focus to maternal and infant health among the Batwa, a key priority identified at the local and national levels in Uganda for her PhD. Additionally she is the database manager for the Arctic, Peru and Uganda for the Indigenous Health an Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) project.

Contact: @kateepi    |

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Alexandra Sawatzky    

PhD Student, Public Health | 2015 – Current

Alexandra is a PhD student in Public Health at the University of Guelph, where she graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree in 2015. Broadly, she works at the intersection of environmental and human wellbeing. More specifically, her work involves the use of participatory, community-based approaches to develop deeper understandings of how changes in the environment impact various dimensions of wellbeing from the perspectives of Inuit living in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Labrador.

Under the advisory and mentorship of profs. Sherilee Harper and Ashlee Cunsolo – and alongside Inuit community and government partners in Rigolet – Alexandra’s doctoral project involves the participatory development of a health- and environmental-monitoring and response program. Essentially, this program prioritizes the centrality of land-based relationships; indeed, for Inuit, well-being is ultimately rooted in deep, intrinsic, interconnected relationships with the land. It is therefore crucial to understand these land-based relationships in order to inform the creation of adaptive pathways for dealing with environmental change that enhance well-being in innovative, culturally-safe, and community-centered ways.

The need for this program emerged from the many years this community has spent developing expertise in climate change research and strengthening relationships with members of the research team. Alexandra is honoured be a part of this team and have the opportunity to continue cultivating these relationships. Cultivating meaningful, lasting relationships necessarily involves stepping back, listening, and creating spaces that privilege Inuit voices and keep Inuit values at the heart of all conversations, decisions, and actions. In doing so, Alexandra hopes to engage in both research and community in ways that contribute to larger, ongoing processes of decolonization and reconciliation in Canada.

Keywords: Inuit well-being; environment; Nunatsiavut; community-based, participatory research; qualitative methods; decolonization

Contact Information:     |     @_asawatzky     |

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Laura Jane Brubacher

PhD Student, Epidemiology and International Development | 2015- Current

LJ WeberLaura Jane is currently pursuing a collaborative PhD in Population Medicine and International Development Studies at the University of Guelph. She graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science in 2015. During her undergraduate degree, she worked on a mixed methods project that analyzed health-seeking behaviour in response to acute gastrointestinal illness among the Indigenous Batwa peoples in Uganda, a population that was recently forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands. It was over the course of this project that she became interested in the importance of place to Indigenous peoples and its association with well-being. LJ’s doctoral research will involve learning about the centrality of place and connection to the land in Inuit conceptions of well-being, and how this may be associated with individuals’ experiences of healthcare provision.

Keywords:  place; healthcare experiences; health policy; participatory research; decolonizing methodologies


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Danielle Julien-Wright, DVM

PhD Candidate, Epidemiology | 2014 – Current

danielle_photo_bioDr. Danielle Julien-Wright was born in Grenada, West Indies and also lived in St. Kitts and Barbados before coming to Guelph to pursue a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) degree at the University of Guelph in 2000. In 2004, she started the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). During this time, Danielle had the unique opportunity to travel to and volunteer in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe as part of the Global Vets program, and facilitated by Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB/VSF). Resulting from these experiences, Danielle recognized the importance of sustainable community health and the utility of combining veterinary medicine with public health efforts in the control and prevention of zoonoses (diseases shared between humans and vertebrate animals). She completed her externship in the New Forest, Hampshire, UK and in 2008 graduated from the DVM program. After one year in companion animal practice, Danielle worked on a contract project with OMAFRA and the Poultry Industry Council (PIC). In 2011 she left industry to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) at the Ontario Veterinary College. In 2013 she started her PhD. with Drs. Jan Sargeant and Sherilee Harper in the Department of Population Medicine and Dr. Catherine Filejski at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).


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Jen Jones

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography

Jen makes her home in Yukon where she has worked and lived for over 20 years.  Her experience, both broad and diverse includes working with Yukon First Nation health and social departments and more recently evaluating health impacts in the context of resource development projects.  Currently, Jen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph and is co-advised by  Sherilee.  She is a 2015 Trudeau Scholar and recipient of a SSHRC Graduate Scholarship. Jen’s work seeks to understand and address the impacts of colonization on Indigenous health and well-being in the governance of the extractives sector.

Keywords: Indigenous health, Mining, Colonization, Health assessment, Northern Canada

Contact: or

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Paola Alejandra Torres Slimming, MD, DTM&H    

PhD Candidate, UPCH

Dr. Paola Torres Slimming is a PhD student in the Life Science program at UPCH in Lima, Peru. Her research interests focus on reducing health threats to vulnerable populations by trying to understand how diseases interact with social determinants of health, poverty, inequity. Paola is interested in finding novel ways of conducting effective studies that can bring primary health care level solutions by incorporating patient and community engagement through evidence based research.

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Jamie Snook   

PhD Student

guelph-jpgJamie Snook was born, raised, and still lives in Labrador. As the Executive Director for the Torngat Secretariat he is often immersed in inter-governmental and research discussions about Snow Crab, Greenland Halibut, Northern Shrimp, Seals, Polar Bears and Caribou to name some of the highlights. Jamie is a PhD student, studying Public Health through the Ontario Veterinary College’s Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph. Jamie is interested in Indigenous co-management, environmental stewardship, sustainable utilization, traditional knowledge, wildlife management, public policy analysis, communications, community wellness, community engagement, and leadership. Jamie is also the Mayor Happy Valley – Goose Bay, holds a Business degree, a professional designation from the Canadian Institute of Management, as well as a Masters in Ethno-Political Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University. Jamie is well travelled having visited all of Labrador, the Canadian provinces and territories, and many international locations such as Cuba, Mexico, Dominican Republic, United States, Thailand, Russia, Ireland, Spain, Iceland, Greenland, England, Switzerland, Holland, France, Morocco, and Germany.

Contact: or @jamiesno

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Carlee Wright     

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology | 2014-current


Carlee completed her baccalaureate degree at the University of Guelph in 2014, majoring in biological science. She is currently a thesis-based MSc student in epidemiology at the Ontario Veterinary College, working with Dr. Sherilee Harper. Her research focuses on drinking water and acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in northern Canada, in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut. Her project makes use of an EcoHealth research framework to assess the contamination of stored drinking water and its possible associations with self-reported AGI. Her project also aims to understand drinking water consumption patterns in Rigolet and how they have changed over time with new drinking water infrastructure in the community. The ultimate goal of this work is to use the generated knowledge to help inform sustainable drinking water interventions to reduce risk of waterborne infections, and inform risk assessments and public health messaging in Nunatsiavut and other northern Indigenous communities.

Keywords: Inuit; drinking water; coliform; waterborne illness; acute gastrointestinal illness


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Lindsay Day    

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology | 2014-current

Lindsay Day is an MSc student in the Department of Population Medicine, working with Dr.’s Sherilee Harper (University of Guelph) and Ashlee Cunsolo (Cape Breton University). Her research explores integrative approaches that bring together Indigenous and Western knowledge in addressing issues at the intersection of ecosystem and human health, with a focus on water-related issues in northern Inuit regions of Canada. Lindsay’s interests also include methods and strategies for effective knowledge mobilization for community and ecosystem health, research and policy. She is excited to be creating a podcast, as part of her thesis research, that aims to bring together a multiplicity of Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives around the common theme of how we live with, relate to, and manage water. Lindsay completed a joint honours BA in Sociology and Anthropology at McGill University in 2001. She has also worked in the horse industry for many years as an equine massage therapist and health and science writer.

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Manpreet Saini     

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology | 2014-current

Manpreet completed her Bachelor of Science from McMaster University in 2013. Her undergraduate studies focused on cellular and plant biology. For her MSc, she is under the advisory of Drs Sherilee Harper, Steven Roche, and Andrew Papadopoulos. Her masters project stems from her interest in the environment, health and community outreach. Manpreet is working to understand important knowledge transfer and exchange strategies for research done with Inuit communities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador. Additionally, she is working on co-developing a whiteboard video to share health information with community members from Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and evaluating the collaborative process and tool. For more information about the video you can visit:

Keywords: participatory research, Inuit health, knowledge transfer and exchange, health communication, health promotion


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Anna Manore     

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology | 2015-current

Anna graduated from BSc program in Microbiology at the University of Guelph in 2015. During during her undergraduate degree, a co-op work term at the Public Health Agency of Canada sparked her interest in the effects of climate change on health, specifically in Indigenous populations. In September 2015, Anna began her MSc with the Harper Lab, working to understand the prevalence and sources of foodborne pathogens on retail and country foods in Iqaluit, and how these pathogens affect the burden of acute gastrointestinal illness in Inuit populations.


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 Stephanie Masina  

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology | 2015-current   

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Stephanie is a first-year MSc student in Epidemiology at the University of Guelph. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph where she started a research project with Dr. Sherilee Harper and Kate Bishop-Williams exploring the burden of chronic gastrointestinal illness in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut. Stephanie developed an interest in how climate change affects water resources during her undergraduate co-op positions. In these roles, she monitored water quality and was introduced to waterborne disease mitigation and public health. Her thesis project aims to determine the prevalence and sources of waterborne pathogens in Iqaluit, Nunavut to explore why the rates of acute gastrointestinal illness appear to be high in this community. This is part of a broader, collaborative project (the PAWS project) aiming to develop a participatory, community-based environmental surveillance system to better understand and monitor pathogens in Iqaluit.

Keywords: parasites, water quality, waterborne disease, Inuit health, Iqaluit, Nunavut

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Jacqueline Middleton

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology | 2015-current

Jacqueline is an incoming MSc student in Epidemiology at the University of Guelph working with Dr. Harper and Dr. Cunsolo-Willox. She graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Life Sciences from the University of Toronto in 2014, where she completed a major in Human Biology and Psychology, and minored in Environmental Biology. This diverse academic background developed her curiosity in interactions between the physical environment and human health and has drawn her to the field of EcoHealth. Jacqueline’s time spent as a research assistant in Psychiatry has led to her interest in mental health and well-being in the context of climate change. Jacqueline hopes to further investigate this topic with her thesis while engaging community members through the use of participatory research methods.

Keywords:  Inuit; Nunatsiavut; Mental Health; Seasonality

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Vivienne Steele  

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology | 2015-current 


Vivienne is completing a MSc in Epidemiology at the University of Guelph. After graduating from McGill University with a BSc in Environmental Sciences, Vivienne was a research assistant for the IHACC Ugandan team. Inspired by an environmental health-focused exchange in a rural community in West Africa during her undergraduate studies, and her work experience in environmental consulting, Vivienne will continue to expand her understanding of environmental health research. Vivienne’s thesis will focus on access to maternal health care services in rural Uganda using data she collected in visits to Bwindi Community Hospital in 2015.

Keywords: Maternal health, Uganda, Indigenous, rural, antenatal, community-based

Email:     |     @SteeleVivienne

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David Borish

MSc Candidate, Epidemiology     |     2016-current


David is currently pursuing his Master’s as an MSc student in the Department of Population Medicine, co-supervised by Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo. He graduated with an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in 2016 from the International Development program at the University of Guelph, winning the Excellence in International Development Studies Prize. On the side of his studies, he worked as a multimedia artist, producing video and photographic content that examined socio-economic and environmental issues. In 2016, he worked with WWF-Malaysia and other conservation groups to published a documentary film about tiger conservation relating to sustainable development in Malaysia. David is interested in continuing to produce research-based multimedia projects that address global health, socio-economic, and environmental issues.

As part of his graduate thesis, David will be producing a research-based documentary film regarding the decline in the George-River Caribou Herd and the resulting effects on Indigenous health in Labrador. Under the supervision of Dr. Sherilee Harper and Ashlee Cunsolo, he will be working in collaboration with Inuit and Innu from Nunatsiavut, NunatuKavut, and the Innu Nation to tell the story of caribou from the voices, perspectives, wisdom, and experiences of people throughout Labrador. The film will aim to stand as a testament of traditional knowledge and Indigenous science related to caribou in Labrador, and educate both research and policy regarding caribou conservation into the future.

Keywords: Caribou; Indigenous Knowledge; Inuit, First Nations; Wildlife Conservation; Indigenous Health; Traditional Knowledge; Participatory Research


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Nia King

Undergraduate Honours Student, Bio-Medical Science | 2015-Current

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Nia is entering the fourth year of her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph. Stemming from a love for global health, in 2014, Nia had the opportunity to conduct research in a small rural Kenyan village investigating community nutrition and the determinants of primary school absenteeism and dropout. For her 2015/2016 undergraduate research thesis, Nia worked with Rachael Vriezen and Dr. Sherilee Harper. She travelled to Rigolet and where she investigated the indirect economic costs of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in order to inform a comprehensive cost-of-illness model. For summer 2016, Nia worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Harper and focused primarily on Knowledge, Translation, and Exchange strategies, as well as researching the Climate Change Adaptation Landscape in Nunatsiavut, Labrador. Nia will be continuing her work as a Research Assistant this fall, and will also be completing an independent study course.

Keywords: Canada; Indigenous health; Inuit; Acute gastrointestinal illness; Cost of illness; Indirect costs; Health economics; Community-based research


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Julia Bryson

Undergraduate Honours Student, Bio-Medical Science   |     2016-Current

Julia 1.4Julia is an undergraduate student majoring in Bio-Medical Sciences at the University of Guelph. She is passionate about global health, science, and social justice, which draws her to the interdisciplinary nature of epidemiology and the Harper Lab. Julia recently completed a systematic scoping review which investigates the associations between climate and the Neglected Tropical Diseases in East Africa with Dr. Sherilee Harper and Kate Bishop-Williams. She has also worked in Southwestern Uganda as a Research Assistant for Kaitlin Patterson’s study of maternal and infant health among the Batwa. Part of her time in Uganda was spent in local communities learning from women about their experiences with food during pregnancy. These discussions will inform her undergraduate thesis project investigating associations between climate and Indigenous maternal nutrition and food security in Kanungu District, Uganda.


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Emily Nunez

Undergraduate Honours Student, Bio-Medical Science   |     2016-Current

Emily NunezEmily is in her fourth year of an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph. She is also minoring in Neuroscience and completing certificates in Aboriginal Affairs and in Civic Engagement and Global Citizenship. For the summer of 2016, Emily is working as a Research Assistant in the Harper Lab with a focus on plain language research dissemination and writing a scoping literature review on diarrheal disease in Peru. This review will inform Emily’s upcoming project on acute gastrointestinal illness in an Indigenous Shawi community in the Peruvian Amazon.

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Isaac Bell

Undergraduate Honours Student, Bio-Medical Science   |     2017-Current

Isaac is entering his third year of a Bio-Medical Science major at the University of Guelph. He has a wide range of academic interests, spanning human health, environmental issues, anthropology, and the philosophy of science. For the summer of 2017, Isaac will serve as an undergraduate research assistant in the Harper Lab, contributing specifically to the IHACC project. In following an ecohealth research approach, Isaac is committed to maintaining respectful, community-based practices when studying Indigenous health adaptations to climate change.


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Mackenzie Wilson

Masters of Public Health & International Development Studies Candidate   |     2017-Current

Mackenzie is a first year student in the Master of Public Health and International Development Studies program at the University of Guelph, where she completed an Honours Bachelor of Biomedical Science with a minor in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Science in 2016. As part of her undergraduate research, Mackenzie worked in Cambodia studying the sodium intake of rural Cambodians. This has shaped her interest in Global Health and Nutrition.

As part of her Masters, Mackenzie is traveling to Southwestern Uganda to examine how national recommendations for antenatal care are being implemented at the community level by health care facilities to elicit understanding and compliance in women receiving care. The project aims to understand national, community and individual levels of maternal nutritional care. Using qualitative data obtained through focus group discussions and key informant interviews, the objectives of the project are to improve efficiency and delivery of antenatal care, as well as improving other areas of maternal nutrition services in the region.


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Chloe Zivot

Undergraduate Honours Student, International Development Studies   |     2017-Current

Chloe is entering the final year of her undergraduate degree, majoring in International Development Studies, with an emphasis in Business and Economic Development. Over the course of her degree Chloe has developed a deep interest in food security, systems, and safety. After graduation she plans to pursue further studies surrounding global policy as related to food systems, climate change, and maternal and children’s health in the context of rural and indigenous populations both in Canada and abroad. Chloe really looks forward to working alongside the inspiring team in the Harper Lab this summer, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the IHACC project.



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Jessica Purbrick

Undergraduate Honours Student, Arts & Science   |     2017-Current

Jessica is entering her fourth year of an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph. Her academic interests span many areas including human health and physiology, population medicine and environmental science. After graduation Jessica hopes to pursue further studies in healthcare focusing on rural and indigenous communities. For the summer of 2017, Jessica will be contributing to the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) project, acting as an undergraduate research assistant in the Harper Lab.




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Zainab Yeabu Kargbo

Medical Research Associate   

My name is Zainab Yeabu Kargbo, and I mostly go by Yeabu. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2001 following two successive civil wars that ravaged through my birth country of Sierra Leone between 1997 and 1999. On September 1st, 2017, I obtained my M.D degree at Medical University of the Americas, MUA. During the course of my MD program, I completed my basic Science medical curriculum in Saint Keiths and Nevis, and my clinical sciences at various hospitals in the USA and Canada, including Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center, USA, Health Sciences North, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and Northeastern Ontario Medical Offices.

Prior to entering medical school, I first received a MSc in Population medicine (Epidemiology) at the University of Guelph, where I was a Research Assistant in the department of Population Medicine, from 2006 to 2008. Between 2001 and 2006, I completed a BSc. (Hons.) in Biochemistry, with a focus on Nutrition, at the Memorial University of Newfoundland where I was a research Assistant from 2005 to 2006.

I am currently working in Environmental Health Epidemiology with Dr. Sherilee Harper and her team in the Department of Population Medicine University of Guelph. I serve as a “Level 1 and Level 2” reviewer in systematic literature reviews.  I am very passionate about working with vulnerable and underserved populations, including the elderly.




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