Bryan Tanner, BA, MSc Candidate

B_Tanner_320w.jpgProgram and Year: MSc Candidate (Year 2)
Research Interests: Social Epidemiology
Name of Supervisor:Samantha Wells, PhD

  • 2020 Jim Robertson Award
  • 2011 Board of Governor’s Medal in History (University of Windsor)

In Bryan's Words

“But what of the poor?” My time as an undergraduate was filled with examples of academics practicing socially engaged research, be they historians sidelining the history of men in suits for the history of men and women in coveralls or anthropologists using research to advocate for those living through the worst impacts of austere governance. However, credit must be given where credit is due as it was social worker and epidemiologist, Dr. Kevin Gorey, speaking this impactful quote to me - his way of highlighting the necessity of health research for marginalized communities - that inspired me to study epidemiology. 

The importance of socially engaged research instilled during my undergrad has carried over to my graduate studies. My present research interests center on how population health disparities are shaped by discriminatory social processes such as racism, sexism, and classism. Particularly, I am interested in how the day to day stresses that arise from broad discriminatory social processes (i.e. interpersonal discrimination, economic insecurity, unequal access to resources) impact the wellbeing of members of marginalized communities. Methodologically, I am interested in the incorporation into the epidemiologic practice of theoretical lenses drawn from the social sciences and humanities, including critical-, intersectional- and post-colonial theory.

My Master’s Thesis involves work with an Indigenous community in South Western Ontario to examine health using the Medicine Wheel as a conceptual framework. To this point, we are examining the effect of stressors linked to contemporary and historical experiences with colonialism on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of community members, as well as how participation in cultural coping factors that involve the promotion of Indigenous identity can mitigate the effects of these stressors on each health outcome.

I intend to carry forward what I have learned during my graduate studies into future academic endeavours. I plan to apply to PhD programs in Epidemiology after a gap year to work in the field. Outside of the classroom, my time in an epidemiology department has offered many opportunities for personal growth. I have appreciated every chance I have had to socialize (and debate - politely, of course!) with my fellow epidemiology students, many of whom come from vastly different academic backgrounds. I consider myself among the best and brightest.

To students interested in studying epidemiology I have two pieces of advice. First, there is a place for everyone in epidemiology. Provided you are comfortable with quantitative methods, even those with a background in the humanities can provide meaningful insights into their coursework and research. After all, health is a multifaceted concept, encompassing biological as well as social, behavioural, and cultural processes, such that the solutions to promoting better health invariably require consideration of all of these processes. Second, I have found it helpful to treat graduate school like I would any job. You are here to learn a set of skills that you can build on throughout your life. And as with any job, there will always be mentors and colleagues to help you out along the way. So, remember to have some fun here and there.