Meet our people

Our group

The Environmental Epidemiology Research Group is a rapidly growing entity with links to several units at McGill

Some of our focus areas include experimental medicine, pharmacology/toxicology, oncology, as well as agricultural and environmental sciences.  The core group is formed by five professors with vast and complementary expertise on environmental questions both at home and globally.

Faculty

Jill Baumgartner, PhD

 

Dr. Baumgartner is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and an Associate Member of the McGill School of Environment.  She investigates the impact of air pollution on chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease in North America and in the Tibetan Plateau, China.  She holds a joint PhD in Population Health Sciences and Environment & Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Population and International Health from Harvard University. Details of Dr. Baumgartner's work may be found here.

Jonathan Chevrier, PhD

 

Dr. Chevrier is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Health Sciences and Associate Member of the McGill School of Environment. He studies the impact of common environmental exposures such as pesticides, flame retardants (PBDEs), plastic components (bisphenol A), and industrial by-products (dioxins, metalworking fluids) on child health and development. His work takes place in North America and South Africa.  He holds a doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master's in Physiology-Endocrinology from Université Laval.  More information on Dr. Chevrier's research may be found here.

Mark Goldberg, PhD

 

Dr. Goldberg is full professor in the Department of Medicine. He is also a research scientist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and an Associate Member of the Department of Epidemiology and the McGill School of the Environment.  His research focuses on the health impact of exposure to air pollution and on the environmental and occupational causes of cancer, especially breast cancer.  More details on Dr. Golberg's research can be found here.

Alexandra Schmidt, PhD

 

Dr. Schmidt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. She is a Bayesian statistician doing research on spatial and spatiotemporal modeling of environmental, ecological and epidemiological problems. A key focus of her current research programme is to develop models for uni- and multivariate spatiotemporal processes that do not require transformation of the data, but rather can be applied to the data on their original scale. Find out more about her research here.

Scott Weichenthal, PhD

 

Dr. Weichenthal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. He is an environmental epidemiologist working primarily on the chronic health effects of air pollution, indoor air quality and traffic-related health impacts.   In particular, he has recently been conducting studies on the health impacts of ultrafine particles. A notable feature of his work is the potential for a direct/practical application of study results for knowledge transfer and the development of risk management recommendations, of importance for all Canadians.  Details on his research can be found here.

 

Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

Rita Biel, MSc

 

Rita is a PhD student in environmental epidemiology at McGill.  Prior to joining McGill, she worked as a surveillance epidemiologist on a provincial public health surveillance team in Calgary, Alberta.  Among other surveillance projects, Rita was involved in the provincial health impacts surveillance effort following the 2013 Southern Alberta floods and developed a real-time heat health surveillance dashboard in Alberta using syndromic surveillance. Rita was trained at the master’s level in epidemiology, doing cancer prevention research and work on nutritional risk factors in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary.  She also holds a B.Sc. in ecology from the University of Calgary.  For her doctoral work, Rita will focus on exposure assessment of air pollution and its health impacts.

Thomas DiLenardo, MSc

 

 

Basant Elsiwi, MEng

 

Basant is a PhD student in Epidemiology. She holds a MEng in Chemical Engineering from McGill University. Her previous work focused on developing an environmentally-friendly, sustainable polymer additive that could potentially replace the toxic phthalates, which are commonly-used plasticizers. Basant has built her interest in environmental health sciences during her master's training as she was very curious to learn more about all the various methods that are used to measure and assess the effect of various environmental exposures on human health. For her thesis, she is investigating the effect of pyrethroid insecticides exposure on the risk of allergic airway disease in VHEMBE children who live in malaria-endemic area. Basant likes to skate, travel and she enjoys exploring Montreal.

 

 

Fahmida Huq, BSc

 

Fahmida is a Master's student in Epidemiology. She obtained a BSc in Civil Engineering (major in Environmental Engineering) from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Fahmida grew up in Bangladesh, where people face numerous environmental health hazards on a daily basis.​ Human health and the environment have thus always been at the core of her interests. Her desire to understand the complex interface between the environment and health  have led her to join Dr. Chevrier's group. As part of her thesis, she studies the impact of exposure to pesticide on female reproductive health. In her personal life, Fahmida likes to travel, paint, read and gossip too!

 

Joanne Kim, MSc

 

Joanne is an Epidemiology PhD student. She holds a MPH in Occupational and Environmental Health from the University of Toronto. Joanne previously worked at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (Cancer Care Ontario) in Toronto, estimating the burden of cancer in Canada from exposure to workplace carcinogens. She is interested in occupational and environmental causes of disease, and in promoting disease prevention. For her thesis, she is investigating the impact of environmental contaminants on obesity, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Outside of research, Joanne enjoys cooking, exploring Montreal, and shopping at Costco.

Jill Korsiak, MSc

 

Jill is a PhD student examining the impact of air pollution from biomass burning on cardiovascular health in children.

 

Martha Lee, MSc

 

Martha is a PhD student in Epidemiology at McGill. Her research interests are in spatial variation in air pollution exposure and the health impacts of poor air quality. She completed a BA in Geography and MSc in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene at the University of British Columbia. Her MSc thesis work focused on air pollution modelling in Hong Kong. Her current doctoral work will focus on air pollution and its associated adverse health effects.

Robert MacTavish

 

Robert is a MSc student in Epidemiology, and is particularly interested inenvironmental determinants of health. Robert graduated from Queen's University with a BScH, specializing in Environmental Life Sciences, and completed his undergraduate epidemiological thesis on the association between lead mining and adult literacy in Myanmar. Last year, he completed a Masters in Environmental Science at the University of Guelph, and focused on Atmospheric Science research.

Susannah Ripley

 

Susannah is working on projects related to the development of new air pollution exposure surfaces for Montreal and Toronto.

Masoud Shorshani, PhD

 

Masoud is Post-Doctoral Researcher working to integrate our existing air pollution exposure surfaces with the Datamobile smartphone application (developed by Dr. Zachary Patterson, Concordia University). The goal of this project is to develop a new tool to estimate long-term air pollution exposures using mobility information collected using smart phones.

Tzu-Wei (Joy) Tseng

 

Joy is a MSc student in Environmental Epidemiology at McGill. She has worked with the Baumgartner Research Group on issues of energy and air pollution since 2016 when she conducted fieldwork during an energy intervention study in the Tibetan Plateau as a McGill Global Health Scholar, resulting in a recent publication (link). Prior to starting her MSc degree, she worked on issues of land tenure security, conservation and human wellbeing with the The Nature Conservancy. She earned a BSc Honours in Microbiology and Immunology, and a minor in Psychology in 2017 at McGill.

Kabisha Velauthapillai

 

Kabisha is intrigued by the environmental and social factors that influence human health. During her Master’s degree studies in Epidemiology, she will investigate the links between traffic-related air pollution and cardiovascular health in adults living in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Kabisha started working on this pilot project as an undergraduate research intern at McGill's Institute for Health and Social Policy. She assisted with data collection in Colombia and worked with the local field team to put the project in motion. Informing her curiosity is Kabisha’s B.Sc. Environment-Ecological determinants of Health degree and undergraduate thesis on Environment and environmental concerns within Montréal's Ilankai Tamil community: a project she will continue to draw from as she goes further in research.

Luyao Zhang

 

Luyaho is and MScPH student working on a project to evaluate air pollution from commercial biomass burning in Montreal. 

 

Program Graduates

Information about some of our graduates.

Emmanuelle Batisse, MSc

 

Emmanuelle is a Master’s student in epidemiology at University of Montreal who is jointly advised by Audrey Smargiassi. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and her main interests are the impacts of air pollution on public health. For her Master’s research project, Emmanuelle investigated the links between industrial emissions of PM2.5 and acute cardiovascular complications in Quebec. She now works as a Research Assistant on a project evaluating the impact of public health interventions.

Stéphane Buteau, PhD

 

Stéphane obtained his PhD from Department of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine) and the McGill School of Environment. He also olds a Master’s degree in Environmental and Occupational Health from the University of Montreal. Before starting his doctorate, Stéphane held an environmental health scientist position at the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ). His main research interests are in environmental epidemiology and toxicology, focusing on the impact of air pollution on human health. Stéphane investigated the acute health effects of ambient air pollution among susceptible individuals. He now works for the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec. Outside of his research, his interests include playing ice hockey, touchfootball and doing outdoor sports.

Ellison Carter, PhD

 

Ellison was a post-doctoral fellow in Energy, Air Pollution, and Health at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and is now Assistant Professor at the Colorado State University. Ellison earned her Ph.D. and M.S.E. degrees in Civil Engineering through the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering program as an NSF Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Trainee (IGERT) and EPA STAR fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.  Dr. Carter is interested in developing and investigating tools to measure, characterize, and mitigate the impacts of environmental pollution on human health and the environment. Her current research efforts focus on pollution control strategies that reduce human exposure to air pollutants in indoor environments.

Sierra Clarck, MSc

 

As an MSc student in Epidemiology, Sierra evaluated the health and environmental benefits of clean cooking stoves and fuels in the Sichuan, China, as well as their uptake and sustained use. Sierra recently graduated from McGill with First Class Honours and Deans Honour List in the Bachelor of Arts program. Her academic background is in geography and geographic information systems, with interest in the environmental and social factors that impact disease risk in vulnerable populations. She previously worked with the Geographic Environmental Epidemiology Lab and the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change research group. She loves conducting fieldwork and using mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) study designs when approaching environment and health research questions.

Jonathan Huang, PhD

 

Jonathan was a postdoctoral fellow in Epidemiology. He holds a BS in Biochemistry (University of Virginia), an MPH in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice and a PhD in Epidemiology (University of Washington). His interests are in the application of causal inference methods to mechanistic investigations in perinatal and life-course epidemiology as well as in the application of those methods to policy-making. He worked with Dr. Chevrier to investigate the impact of prenatal exposure to insecticides on child growth and infections in the VHEMBE birth cohort. He is now a Research Fellow in Singapore.

Thirumagal Kanagasabai, PhD

 

Thirumagal is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Epidemiology at McGill. She completed her PhD in Health Science at York University in Toronto. The overarching framework of her doctoral research is sleep and cardiometabolic health epidemiology of adults. Within this context, she quantified the mediating effect of dietary and physical activity factors to the relationship between sleep and cardiometabolic risk factors, estimated the associations between objective vs. subject sleep measures as they relate to cardiometabolic health, and quantified the risk of developing cardiometabolic conditions due to changes in sleep habits . She holds a HBSc and MSc in toxicology from the University of Toronto. Thiru’s Postdoctoral Fellowship focuses on environmental risk factors and their associated cardiovascular disease risks. Her research interests include sleep patterns and circadian rhythms, light and environmental exposures, biomarkers of disease and health, human activity patterns and behaviours, and cardiometabolic health outcomes.

Rachel Kohut, MPH

 

Rachel is investigating housing policies in northern Quebec. A third year law at McGill, Rachel previously completed a Masters in Public Health at Memorial University, where she honed her interests in remote and rural health, particularly in northern and Arctic communities. She has previously worked with the HIV, Health and Development Team at the Istanbul Regional Hub of the United Nations Development Program, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the International Development Research Centre, and the Assembly of First Nations and the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation. She is a member of HuSArctic: Human Security as a promotional tool for societal security in the Arctic, the Global Health Working Group of Memorial University, and TUAQ: Tromsø-Umea- Arkhangelsk-Queen’s (TUAQ) Network on Gender and Law in the Arctic Region.

Jennifer Murray, MScPH

 

Jennifer was a Master’s of Public Health (MScPH) student at McGill who now works for the First Nations Health Authority. Following her graduation from Dartmouth College, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, Jen worked as a Presidential Fellow in the Office of the President at Dartmouth. She then worked at The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science on global health programs, including work in Peru, South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Honduras, and with the Indian Health Service (US). She is interested in studying the effect of environmental exposures on human health, and how a better understanding of these exposures can improve health equity in Canada and around the world. At McGill, Jen investigated the association between exposure to the insecticide DDT and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy among a birth cohort of mother-infant pairs in South Africa. Jen also likes to play tennis, run, ski, bike, travel, and enjoy Montreal.

 

Christina Norria, MSc

 

Christina Norris was a Master's student in Epidemiology at McGill. Along with an undergraduate degree in biology from McGill University, she has worked on conservation projects across Canada and the U.S. that involved field data collection and monitoring of species-at-risk. She is interested in the the ways in which the environment can affect human health, and the intersection of human, wildlife, and environmental health.  For her thesis, she investigated the acute cardiovascular impacts of black carbon exposure during cooking  in Karnataka, India. Christina spends as much time as possible outside, hiking, biking, running, and doing field work.

Graydon Snyder, PhD

Picture coming soon.

 

 

Coming soon!

 

Matthew Secrest, MSc

 

Matthew Secrest was a Master's student in Epidemiology at McGill. He holds a BS in chemistry and has several years’ experience with chemical research.  His research interests include the environmental determinants of human health in general and the effect of air pollution on health more specifically. His thesis focused on quantifying the benefits of energy interventions on air quality and human health in rural China.