Our trainee spotlight this fall is Corliss Bean, a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in the Faculty of Health and Social Development. She works with Dr. Mary Jung and the Small Steps for Big Changes program. Her Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research-funded post doctoral work is examining the implementation and effectiveness of transitioning the Small Steps for Big Changes program into a community setting using a mixed-methods approach.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Markham, Ontario—a town, turned city—about 40 minutes North-East of Toronto. I played sports growing up, predominantly hockey, which led me to play at the varsity level at the University of Ottawa. My active childhood and love for the outdoors fostered my strong value in health and played an important role in my academic and aspiring career paths.
What did you study in your undergrad/grad school and where?
I attended the University of Ottawa for a decade while I completed my undergraduate degree, Master’s, and doctoral degrees in Human Kinetics. Specifically, my research focused on the development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based sport and physical activity programs. I worked with local and national organizations to use sport and physical activity as a vehicle for fostering physical and psychosocial development.
What got you interested in diabetes research?
Throughout my graduate degrees, I adopted Positive Youth Development, a proactive approach to youth development that sees youth as assets to be developed within sport and physical activity programming. After learning about Dr. Jung and her Diabetes Prevention Research Group at the University of British Columbia, I became interested in adopting a preventative approach for chronic disease within adults. Specifically, the research group was running Small Steps for Big Changes, a counselling program that helps people make lasting dietary and exercise changes in order to lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This opportunity allowed me to expand my horizons within my postdoctoral fellowship by using expertise in program development, implementation, and evaluation of health-related community programs in a new context to serve a new population.
What do you hope to achieve in 2019 with your research?
This year has been a productive year for several reasons. First, this spring, I was successful at securing tri-council funding as a principal investigator, where we are now working to transition Small Steps for Big Changes into a sustainable program run within and delivered by our community partner, the YMCA of Okanagan. Second, I became certified as a credentialed evaluator through the Canadian Evaluation Society. This designation supports professionalization efforts by defining, recognizing, and promoting the practice of ethical, high quality and competent evaluation in Canada. Finally, I published my 40th peer-reviewed manuscript, which was an exciting accomplishment toward securing an academic position at a research-intensive university. I am looking forward to what the rest of 2019 brings; I am eager to attend the Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology (SCAPPS) conference in October 2019. At this conference, I am co-presenting our work in progressing toward making Small Steps for Big Changes a sustainable community program, with our YMCA community partner and SSBC program ambassador.
Any advice for trainees starting out on how to connect with colleagues?
Two pieces of advice I would give to trainees include the following. First, is around the importance of making connections. Take opportunities to network every chance you get within your faculty, university, community, and beyond. This includes putting yourself out there when attending conferences and events. We live in a social world; you never know when a seamingless insignificant conversation or connection can impact your life. In line with this, I would encourage trainees to take initiative and get involved in various projects within these contexts. Always look to expand your horizons and your skillset—we are in field of academia because we like learning, so continue to do so.