Luissa Vahedi: PhD Candidate Public Health Sciences


  • MSc Epidemiology, Queen’s University
  • BHSc Health Science, Western University

Research Interests

  • Social Epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Syndemics
  • Violence
  • Gender
  • Social and public policy

Connect with me


Research Biography

I came to the Brown School from Queen’s University in Canada, where I pursued a Master of Science in Epidemiology. Through training in Epidemiology, I gained a skillset in population-based quantitative health research methods and supplemented this training with qualitative methods and philosophies. My research applies the theories and methods of social epidemiology to the study of gender-based violence, mental health, and sexual and reproductive health in fragile settings. As a doctoral candidate, I have specialized in advanced quantitative statistical methods, causal inference, and applying/testing theories in social epidemiology.

My research engages with the questions that are fundamental to preventing and responding to violence:

  • What structures perpetuate violence against women and children?
  • How does violence interact with nutrition and mental health to create intergenerational health adversities?
  • What branches of social and public policies can be integrated to meet the complex needs of people who experience violence?

Conflict, displacement, natural disasters, and weak governance structures characterize fragile settings, where women and girls face specific risk factors for gender-based violence and adverse sexual and reproductive health. However fragility can also be experienced at more regional levels and among so-called “hidden” populations, even in high income countries. I address with both aspects of fragility, national and regional, in my work.

I have been engaging with and leading research projects that further develop methods of data collection and analysis in fragile settings for the purpose of rapid and rigorous evidence generation. I am passionate about identifying research and policy areas where qualitative methods and epidemiology can intersect to deepen the understanding of how gender based violence impacts multiple areas of health and wellbeing, from cellular to societal levels.

Since 2020, I have been investigating how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the landscape for gender-based violence prevention, response, and mitigation as well as sexual and reproductive health care, both nationally and internationally. I am actively collaborating with Dr. Lindsay Stark and Kim Thuy Seelinger.

Peace as a Fundamental Determinant of Health Project

February 2022 issue, where Peace as a Fundamental Determinant of Health is housed

In 2021-2022, I joined the American Journal for Public Health Think Tank, where I conceptualized and led a project that brought together two disciplines (peace studies and public health) to better address how conflict, forced displacement, and fragility of governance structures impact the sustainability of public health research and practice.

This project had two components: (1) Call for student papers, where I served as a guest editor and (2) Virtual symposium to disseminate the work of the selected student scholars, where I served as moderator and organizer:

Public Speaking


Peace and Health

Social epidemiology: Merging theory, measurement, and data collection

Measurement of sensitive data

Gender based violence and Nutrition

Gender based violence and COVID-19

Gender based violence in fragile settings

Sexual exploitation and abuse

Violence against children and youth

Field Work Photos