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A Legacy of Research Excellence

Posted by Josey Houle, Dal Health Freelance Writer on November 7, 2022 in Teaching and Learning
Dal Health faculty recognized for exceptional research, education, and publication
Dal Health faculty recognized for exceptional research, education, and publication

The Faculty of Health offers our sincere congratulations to all President’s Research Excellence Award and Distinguished Research Professorship recipients! Three of 2022’s honoured recipients come from the Faculty of Health — we are thrilled to celebrate your contributions to your schools and respective fields of research.

Launched in 2018, the President’s Research Excellence Award acknowledges the exceptional accomplishments of researchers across Dalhousie University faculties. This award has the designation of Research Impact for those who have made outstanding contributions to their area of scholarship, while the Emerging Investigator designation recognizes significant achievement for researchers who are within the first seven years of their first academic appointment.

The Distinguished Research Professorship is awarded to select Dal researchers who are distinguished in their academic fields.

Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh
President’s Research Excellence Award — Research Impact

Jeanna Parsons Leigh, PhD is an assistant professor and sociologist in the School of Health Administration, with a cross-appointment in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Critical Care Medicine. In 2021, Dr. Parsons Leigh was named a Killam Memorial Chair and won the faculty’s Early Career Research Excellence Award.  

Dr. Parsons Leigh research covers enhanced health systems performance, social and structural determinants of health, health communication, health inequalities, and recovery from critical illness. She leads numerous project teams via organizations such as Sepsis Canada and the Canadian Immunization Research Network. Since joining the faculty in 2020, most of her work has focused on the societal impacts of COVID-19, with the intention of informing stronger health policy.

“Dr. Parsons Leigh is already a national research leader and is poised to make important and novel contributions to Canada’s preparedness for the next pandemic. I would rank Dr. Parsons Leigh amongst the top one percent of early career scientists I have worked with or observed over the past ten years,” said Dr. Henry T. Stelfox, professor at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Sara Kirk
Distinguished Research Professorship

Sara Kirk, PhD is a full professor in the School of Health and Human Performance, with a cross appointment in the Faculty of Medicine’s Community Health and Epidemiology department. She is an honorary senior scientist and board member at the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, and an adjunct professor in the Applied Human Nutrition department at Mount Saint Vincent University. Across her time at Dalhousie, she has been honoured with various awards from across the Faculty of Health, along with the Dalhousie University Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

Dr. Kirk is ecstatic to receive a Distinguished Research Professorship: “It means the world to me to have my research recognised in this way. Since joining Dal as a Canada Research Chair in 2007, I have built a program of research that seeks to create, and better understand the need for, supportive environments for chronic disease prevention.”

Dr. Kirk is scientific director of Dalhousie’s Healthy Populations Institute, developer of the Froogie app, co-leader of both the UpLift partnership and One Chance to Be a Child data profile, and a mentor to students and faculty alike.  

“Dr. Kirk’s strong and consistent leadership in graduate training, and in academia more broadly, is the epitome of a servant leader, building consensus and community, working to ensure that all perspectives are considered, and voices heard,” said Dr. Laurene Rehman, director and professor in the School of Health and Human Performance.

Dr. Olga Theou
President’s Research Excellence Award — Emerging Investigator

Olga Theou, PhD is an assistant professor in the School of Physiotherapy, with a cross-appointment in the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Department of Medicine. In 2019, she was appointed a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity, Mobility and Healthy Aging. Named by Expertscape as one of the top scholars writing about Geriatric Assessment, Dr. Theou’s research interests span across various epidemiological and clinical aspects of frailty and aging. She is a two-time recipient of the Faculty of Medicine’s Research Excellence Award: once in 2018, and again earlier this year.  

Dr. Theou explained how teamwork is integral to her success: “Everything I do is a result of group work, and this award also belongs to the amazing group of trainees and colleagues that I have been working over the years.”

Dr. Theou leads the Frailty and Ageing WAVE team and works as a researcher on the Geriatric Medicine Research team. She serves as a principal investigator, collaborator, and co-applicant on numerous grant projects, and research programs. Dr. Theou is first author on several peer reviewed papers and has supervised several graduate and post-graduate students.  

“There is no doubt that Dr. Theou is emerging as a preeminent researcher and scholar in frailty and healthy aging. She is consistently demonstrating leadership on initiatives that translate research findings into practice,” explained Dr. Lynn Shaw, past director of the Faculty of Health’s School of Occupational Therapy, and Dr. Shaun Boe, professor and associate dean (Research) Faculty of Health.