What's New

Mark your Calendars, the NSHRF Annual Awards Gala has been scheduled for February 26, 2019 at The Prince George Hotel.

More information to follow in the new year. 


The latest edition of NSHRF's E-News is available. In this month's, The REAL Issue, Krista discusses the Nova Scotia Integrated Health Research and Innovation Strategy (IHRIS). Continue reading to find out how NSHRF is contributing to this important work.  

As a Fellow, Evan is being mentored by NSHRF’s credentialed evaluators, Dr. Nancy Carter and Robert Chatwin, to develop hisunderstanding of the core competencies required for achieving the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) professional designation of Credentialed Evaluator (CE).

Evan cites the Fellowship as a landmark in his program evaluation career and journey so far. “As an early career evaluator, it is so important to gain hands-on, practical experience and connect with others working in the field,” he says. “It’s a privilege to receive mentorship from an organization that values evaluation culture for its benefits to the community and its internal operations.” 

Prior to arriving at NSHRF in August, Evan was completing his Master of Arts in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Saskatchewan, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. On September 28, he successfully defended his thesis exploring how driving safety is learned by youth raised in rural Saskatchewan, a region with traffic-related injury and fatality rates among the highest in the country.

Evan’s interest in evaluation was sparked during graduate school when he competed in the 2017 and 2018 CES-CESEF Student Evaluation Case Competition finals. “I was introduced to a passionate and welcoming community of evaluators that I didn’t know existed,” he explains. “I was hooked.” 

Since arriving on the east coast, Evan has expanded his involvement with CES by joining the Nova Scotia Chapter and volunteering as manager of social media. Moreover, he’s part of the planning committee for the 2019 CES conference, which will take place in Halifax in late May.  

Established in 2015 as the first of its kind in Canada, the REAL Evaluation Fellowship is a two-year paid studentship which provides education and practical experience to an individual in the early stages of a career in the field of program evaluation.

NSHRF is pleased to introduce Mark Embrett, the new Manager of the REAL Knowledge Program. In this role, Mark will collaborate with a broad group of stakeholders throughout Nova Scotia’s health system to develop programs that support the transfer, exchange and application of knowledge.

Originally from Cape Breton, Mark says he’s grateful for the chance to bring his expertise back home. “This is an opportunity to support government policies that improve health system performance and patient health outcomes in Nova Scotia,” he explains. “By joining the NSHRF team I feel like I’ve come full circle.” 

Mark brings to the NSHRF several years’ experience in evidence-informed decision-making, digital health, and mental health. In the past he worked with local organizations such as the IWK Health Centre and Capital District Health Authority, and more recently gained international experience with research consortiums based out of England and Finland, and Precision Health Economics in the United States.

Immediately prior to joining NSHRF in early November, Mark was completing a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Health Systems Impact Fellowship in collaboration with Canada Health Infoway and McMaster University. There he pursued research on the challenges associated with the adoption of evidence-informed policies in government. 

Mark holds a PhD in Health Policy from McMaster University, a Master’s of Applied Health Services Research from Dalhousie University, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from St. Francis Xavier University. 

During his academic career, Mark received numerous accolades for his work. He was the recipient of the 2014-2015 Mutual Group Graduate Scholarship, and the 2013-2014 David Basford Scholarship. Most notably, although we may be a little biased, Mark is a Scotia ScholarOM, receiving the award in 2008. 

Please join us in welcoming Mark to Nova Scotia’s research enterprise; we’re confident his skills and expertise are a great addition to our community.

NSHRF is pleased to announce the launch of their 2018-19 Scotia ScholarsOM Award competition (Undergraduate). The Scotia ScholarsOMAward provides financial support to high caliber research students engaged in health research at Nova Scotia universities. For more info about the awards and their application requirements, please click here

The current competition is open to undergraduate students attending Cape Breton University, St. Francis Xavier University, Acadia University, and Mount Saint Vincent University. 

The theme of this year’s report is A Solid Foundation. Inside, we illustrate the importance of Nova Scotia’s health research enterprise, and the  ways in which the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation supports it. On the cover are five emerging leaders we think exemplify the legacy NSHRF is leaving for the future. Each has chosen a different way to improve the health of Nova Scotians but together they represent the hundreds of talented trainees and young researchers NSHRF has invested in over the past 18 years. Read the Annual Report.

The Knowledge Sharing Support Award (KSSA) was created so essential research could be disseminated to decision makers who can influence change and make an immediate impact. Funding is available up to a maximum of $10,000 per award. To learn more visit: www.nshrf.ca/kssa


Mount Saint Vincent University applied human nutrition graduate student, Ksenia Kholina, is the first Mount student to win the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation’s (NSHRF) prestigious Quest Award. 

Ksenia, of Saint Petersburg, Russia is the 2018 recipient of The Quest - John Ruedy Award, which is presented annually to the graduate student researcher who demonstrates the greatest promise and potential for excellence in health research. She was chosen from among applicants with the highest standing in NSHRF’s Scotia ScholarsOM Award competition. The competition is open to graduate and doctoral students from across Nova Scotia universities. 

The Quest honours Dr. John Ruedy, former Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Capital District Health Authority. Dr. Ruedy founded the first academic Division of Clinical Pharmacology in Canada and conducted one of the first studies in Canada exploring the adverse effects of hospitalization. Heis an outstanding example of leadership in health and health research in Nova Scotia and was a key supporter of the establishment of NSHRF.

“It is always exciting when we identify the Quest winner, but this year it is doubly so,” says NSHRF CEO, Krista Connell. “This is the first time the recipient is from the Mount, which highlights the excellence of the Mount’s research programs and that research excellence in Nova Scotia is spread across all our post-secondary institutions.”

Ksenia’s research is examining the role of early infant feeding practices in chronic disease prevention. She is working under the supervision of Dr. Kyly Whitfield, an assistant professor for the Department of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University.

“I am so pleased that NSHRF also recognized what I see in Ksenia,” says Dr. Whitfield.  “She took three of my undergraduate nutrition courses and was always a pleasure to teach. Ksenia doesn’t spit out textbook-style answers — she takes the knowledge at hand and combines it with real-world challenges and realities to tackle problems more holistically.”

Before coming to Halifax to study at the Mount, Ksenia studied medicine and worked in a clinical research setting in Russia. “To start a new path in a different country and be recognized like this is mind blowing,” she says. “I’m extremely flattered.”   

Ksenia says she was inspired to study nutrition after working with chronic disease patients in Russia. “I decided I wanted a career that focused on prevention as opposed to treatment, because that’s how we can make the greatest impact in terms of public health.”

According to Ksenia, she will be working with Dr. Whitfield on projects that have the potential to generate new knowledge to guide infant feeding best practices.  

“I will be following Haligonian infants who are exclusively consuming human milk (both from the breast and a bottle) over the first six months, measuring milk intake and tracking their growth trajectories,” she says. “Dr. Whitfield and I hope this work will help to better understand how babies here in Nova Scotia are actually fed, and whether how infants are fed (breast vs. bottle), and not just what they are fed, can influence growth and development.” 

“I’m grateful to NSHRF for this opportunity. The award will allow me to focus on my research. I’ll be able to spend all of my efforts on my work and not have to worry about everyday living expenses,” Ksenia adds.

Ksenia is excited to continue her research at the Mount, a place she says she’s felt supported by from the start. “The Mount has an atmosphere that really facilitates growth. The people here are tremendous. They make a real effort to get to know you and help you. You can tell they want you to reach your full potential.”

Looking to the future, Ksenia says she plans to continue her work and education in chronic disease prevention. “For now, I plan to continue on the academic path. I want to get my master’s and hopefully my PhD so I can further my research. There are a lot of different lenses you can apply to chronic disease prevention and management. Going forward, chronic disease will continue to be my focus and prevention my passion, but there is more I’d like to learn about the social, political and scientific lenses through which you can view my studies.”  


Media contacts:

Gillian Batten
Mount Saint Vincent University

Emily Faulkner
Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation