New professor at York U earns early career award

A new faculty member at York University will be honoured in August with an early career award from the American Psychological Association (APA).

Leeat Granek

Leeat Granek, who joined York University in July as an associate professor, will receive the Distinguished Early Career Contributions in Qualitative Inquiry Award at the annual APA conference next month.

The award recognizes an early career individual who has made outstanding contributions to qualitative research methods. The contribution may be in academic, clinical, government, industry or other settings.

The APA is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in North America, with more than 118,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members.

Granek, who teaches in the School of Health Policy & Management, focuses her research on grief and loss, psycho-oncology, women’s mental health and qualitative methods. She has used qualitative methods to examine how health-care workers cope when their patients die.

Granek started working in the field of psycho-oncology (the study of the psychological and emotional components associated with cancer and its treatment) and became interested in health and illness after her mother was diagnosed with cancer, a disease from which she eventually died. This sparked her interest in how patients, families and their health-care workers cope with the challenges of the disease as well as the grief process, and how people cope with and understand loss.

“My research projects sit at the unique intersection of health psychology (specifically, psycho-oncology and women’s health) and the history and theory of psychological diagnoses and practices. The focus of my research program is to examine the psychological and social determinants of health, and the social processes that have an impact on relationships between health, culture and gender,” she said. “The goal is to use this understanding to improve health outcomes and quality of life, particularly in cancer patients and their families, health-care professionals and those who suffer from chronic illness or are mourning.”

Granek said the award is profoundly meaningful, as the field of psychology and health does not always support qualitative research. Some medical journals, for example, do not publish qualitative research as a matter of policy.

“It is truly touching and meaningful for me to be recognized for my contributions to the field using these powerful research methods by one of the largest and most important organizations in the world for psychologists,” she said.

“I am also thrilled to be getting this award just as I begin at York, where I did my graduate work and was trained by the late Professor David Rennie who taught me how to utilize qualitative methods.”

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