Applied Health Sciences profs lauded for research excellence

Two researchers — one studying youth mental health and another focusing on the development and organization of sport — are being recognized by the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (FAHS) for their exceptional work.

Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Karen Patte and Associate Professor of Sport Management Julie Stevens were each honoured with the 2022 Applied Health Sciences Research Excellence Award as part of Brock’s Spring Convocation Wednesday, June 15.

“Drs. Patte and Stevens are both exceptional researchers who represent the wide range of research excellence and student mentorship in Applied Health Sciences,” says FAHS Dean Peter Tiidus. “Their contributions to the growth of the Faculty’s research and its impact on individuals, communities and enterprises is both far reaching and noteworthy.”

Patte focuses on predictors of youth mental health, with the goal of informing more effective and equitable policies and programs.

Among her many activities, she co-leads the COMPASS study, a national research project that surveys more than 65,000 secondary school students every year in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is funding the project until 2027.

A woman stands behind a podium speaking with yellow and white flowers in the foreground.

Associate Professor of Sport Management Julie Stevens delivered the Convocation address at the morning ceremony of Brock’s Spring Convocation on Wednesday, June 15.

The project studies how individual factors — such as substance use, sleep, physical activity, screen use, diet and bullying — and policies and programs at the school and government levels affect youth mental health.

Patte’s recent research studies how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted youth mental health and their engagement in health behaviours, and whether it has increased health inequities, with funding from CIHR and SickKids. She is passionate about working with youth to design, implement and disseminate research.

“By engaging youth throughout the research process and employing mixed and multiple methods, I believe we’re able to have a greater impact,” says Patte. “I look forward to continuing this work to improve our understanding of how to best ensure all youth can flourish.”

She credits “the unique transdisciplinary and collaborative environment” at Brock, learning from, and with, colleagues and mentors across disciplines, for successes in her research.

Stevens, who delivered Brock’s morning Convocation address Wednesday, is known for her research on women’s hockey, launched by the 1997 book she co-authored as a PhD student, Too Many Men on the Ice: Women’s Hockey in North America. She joined Brock shortly after that to develop expertise in women’s and girls’ hockey, including history, governance, player development, management and international growth, and expanded into broader hockey scholarship from there. She also studies sport oral history and the impact of sport upon a regional economy.

Stevens integrates her research into academic and applied activities with a wide range of sport bodies and programs. Some of these include the Regional Municipality of Niagara, Pickleball Ontario, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation and the Coaching and Sport Management Program at Linnaeus University in Sweden.

In 2018, Brock University appointed Stevens as Special Advisor to the President, Canada Games. In this role, Stevens has led research, teaching and community engagement innovation, and championed the University’s academic legacy through its partnership with the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.

Stevens is also Director of the Centre for Sport Capacity, a hub for sport research, student experiential learning and practical support to sport organizations in the Niagara region, across Canada and abroad.

“Servant leadership is an important part of my research philosophy,” says Stevens. “My research projects empower community members and advance what they strive to accomplish for individual and collective well-being, and the centre enables colleagues and students to expand their scholarly work.”

The purpose of the yearly Applied Health Sciences Research Excellence Award is to recognize FAHS faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the Faculty’s research reputation in Ontario, Canada and internationally, and who have had substantial involvement in the successful training of graduate students.

Faculty members can only receive the award once, and members must be nominated.

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