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Sarah Desmarais

SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize

Sarah Desmarais   "I feel an obligation to get this research out into the community. This is an important piece of knowledge that could change hospital policies and practices. It’s just about getting the research out there and sharing it."

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Winner of the 2008 SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize, Sarah Desmarais, is going to help improve the health of pregnant women and their newborns.

Drawing on her doctoral training in forensic psychology, Desmarais has designed and is launching an intervention program for pregnant women at risk of domestic violence. Her innovative research brings together health professionals at a local hospital and the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health. The ultimate goal is to provide mental health, legal and community organizations trying to protect women from abuse with solid data upon which to build their programs.

“Knowledge in this area is limited, mainly because the research is difficult to do,” she explains. “Most people don’t want to admit they are in an abusive relationship, let alone ask for help. But I like the challenge of reaching people in those situations and giving them hope. We must make sure that how we are trying to help is actually helping.”

A passionate, young researcher, Desmarais already has an impressive collection of published papers and conference presentations to her credit. She has also won several national and international awards, including the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services Best Young Scholar Award, the Mental Health Research Showcase Student Research Award, and SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarships for both her doctoral and master’s training.

The SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize is awarded each year to the most outstanding SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship recipient.