Although not fully representative of the diversity of our students and their topic areas, meet below some of our current students, and see some examples of what former students went on to do after graduation.

Arthur Sweetman with students

Current Students

Students who study under CHEPA members are working on broad areas of activity covered by the educational programs and expertise areas of CHEPA faculty (e.g. determinants of health and health inequalities; equity in health systems; health care financing and funding; organization of delivery of care; health human resources and health professions; health technology assessment; knowledge transfer and exchange; public patient and community engagement, and values and ethics in health policy.)

While not representative of the diversity of our students, below are a few examples of people currently enrolled in PhD and Masters programs under the supervision of CHEPA members.

CHEPA seminar
Alice Cavanagh

Name: Alice Cavanagh

Academic Background: MA in Gender Studies and Feminist Research from McMaster University.

Research Program: MD/PhD (Combined program)

Supervisor: Meredith Vanstone

Research Description: 'Teaching Trauma: Supporting Canadian Trainee Physicians in Responding to Survivors of Sexual Violence’. Alice's doctoral work explores how conceptions of ‘trauma and violence-informed care’ in the context of sexual violence are produced in the policies, training materials, and hidden curricula of medical education.

photo of Alex Cernat

Name: Alexandra Cernat

Academic Background: MSc in Health Services Research with a specialization in Health Technology Assessment from the University of Toronto

Research Program: Health Policy PhD

Supervisor: Meredith Vanstone

Research Description: Stakeholder Perspectives on the Implementation of Pharmacogenomic Testing in Primary Care. Alex’s doctoral work examines the views of patients, clinicians, and policy makers on the use of, access to, and funding for genetic testing for drug-response related variants in primary care.


photo of Pushpita Samina

Name: Pushpita Samina

Academic Background: MBBS, Master of Population Sciences (University of Dhaka), Master of International Health Policy and Management (Brandeis University)

Research Program: PhD ( Health Policy)

Supervisor: Emmanuel Guindon

Research Description: Worked on COVID-19 prevalence survey in Bangladesh, Tuberculosis diagnosis algorithm, quality of care, barriers in using long term family planning commodities, and costing studies. Her thesis topic will include social investment and health technology assessment in the field of tuberculosis.



After graduation, our students pursue a wide variety of employment and academic opportunities. Former students hold faculty and postdoctoral fellowship appointments at universities around the world. They help to shape policy as senior advisors in professional associations, in the private sector, and at various levels of governments and with non-government organizations around the world.

While not representative of all former students, below are some examples of what a few are doing now.

Yaw graduation

Kristen Burrows

Name: Kristen Burrows

Current Occupation: Assistant Dean to the Physician Assistant Program at McMaster University. Before becoming a physician assistant (PA), Kristen was a clinical epidemiologist and worked as a consultant for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Academic Background: PhD in Health Research Methodology from McMaster University; MSc in Epidemiology from the Ontario Veterinary College; BHSc(PA) in Physician Assistant Studies from McMaster; BSc (Honours) in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Guelph.  

Dissertation Title:Exploring Physician Assistant Role Integration in the Ontario Healthcare System

Research: The findings from her research are important from a broad systems perspective as the results help fill existing knowledge and practice gaps regarding the role of PAs, and will help inform the design of human health resource research in order to optimize health care system efficiencies.

Supervisor: Meredith Vanstone

Mark Embrett photo

Name: Mark Embrett

Current occupation: Assistant Professor, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish N.S.

Academic Background:  PhD in Health Policy, McMaster University;  Master’s in Applied Health Services Research from Dalhousie University University; BA in Science from St. Francis Xavier University; Post-doctoral Fellowship CIHR Health Systems Impact Fellow (at McMaster 7 Canada Health Infoway)

Dissertation Title: Developing a better understanding of resource withdrawal from medical services through examination of its characteristics, government policies, and an initiative

Research:  Mark’s research focuses on health systems and policy to support informed decision making and knowledge translation in health innovation and health equity.

Supervisor: Glen Randall

Firas Khalid photo

Name: Ahmad Firas Khalid

Current occupation:  Part-time Faculty, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster; Senior Research Manager, Evidence Aid, Canada; Course Director at York University School of Health Policy & Management, Canada. 

Academic Background: PhD in Health Policy, McMaster University;  Master’s degree in Management from McGill University (Canada);  Master’s degree of Health Profession Education and a Graduate Certificate in Population Health Risk Assessment and Management from the University of Ottawa (Canada) and a medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine (Grenada). Firas was a Queen Elizabeth Scholar in Strengthening Health and Social Systems and traveled to Beirut (Lebanon) to work on research that examined Lebanon’s health-system response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Previously, Firas worked as a health policy researcher at the Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH) at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Geneva, Switzerland. He also worked in the department of Child and Maternal Health at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Firas has expertise in medicine, education, health policy, knowledge translation and health emergencies working with relief and intergovernmental organizations.

Dissertation title:  “Supporting the use of research evidence to inform decision-making in crisis zones”

Supervisor: John Lavis


World Bank logoName: Valerie Ulep

Current Occupation: Economist at The World Bank in Washington, DC , USA

Academic Background: PhD in Health Policy, McMaster University;  MS Public Health Epidemiology, University of the Phillipines. Val was a Supervising Research Specialist at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (a state think tank) in Manila and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Nikkei-Japan Center for Economic Research in Tokyo. He was also an independent consultant for the Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, World Bank, WHO, USAID and SEATCA-Health Justice, and a lecturer of epidemiology at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Manila.

Dissertation Title:  Essays on subsidized health insurance and health-related quality of life

Research: Val’s research interests include health financing and funding mechanisms in developing countries. 

Supervisors: Jeremiah Hurley and Arthur Sweetman. 

McMaster University Social Sciences

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