Student Research Assistant, Data Analyst at University of Saskatchewan



Saskatoon, SK
Full-time, Casual

Student Research Assistant, Data Analyst



Primary Purpose: The Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan invites applications for a half-time position as a Student Research Assistant to work on a College of Medicine funded project, Mortality in Canada’s Neighbourhoods and Rural Communities Before and After the Pandemic.





Nature of Work: The primary responsibilities of the Student Research Assistant will be to support work on accessing, processing, and analyzing the primary databases that will be used to complete the project including: the Canadian Vital Death Statistics Database (CVSD), Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) and the Canadian Census of Population. Prior experience working with big data and leading statistical software, including, but not limited to, Stata, R, and/or SAS, and/or working in secure research environments, like Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centres (RDC), will be an enormous asset. Statistical modelling, data tabulation, and data visualization experience will also be valued.



The Study: The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the critical role that vital statistics can have in shaping public perceptions, opinions, and actions. Indicators that are derived from vital statistics—including: death rates, life expectancy, and excess mortality—are readily understood by both the public and leading decision makers. The pandemic has also accelerated access to vital statistics by Canadian researchers. For the first time, through Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centers (RDC), researchers across the country are able to directly access both historical vital statistics micro-series dating back decades and the latest provisional releases as they are collected and updated on a monthly basis. This new level of access has been critical for researchers to be able to begin to accurately report on the full direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on mortality and also presents new opportunities for understanding its primary drivers generally. Much preparatory work, including the finalization of key methods, is still needed to fully capitalize on these developments. For instance, the latest reports on excess death due to COVID-19 only report results at the federal level when most health decision making in Canada is done at provincial levels or lower. Relatedly, even though methods have been developed to estimate life expectancy at levels as low as the neighbourhood level, this work has never been carried out in a systematic and comparable fashion throughout Canada as a whole. The primary objectives of this project will be to: a) identify and finalize methods to advance descriptive research on population health using vital statistics at the local level in Canada; b) generate and disseminate estimates of leading mortality indicators, including life expectancy and premature mortality, for neighbourhoods and rural communities across Canada. This work will also include examining recent trends in excess COVID-related mortality in Saskatchewan, which recent news reporting suggest may be underreported.



Study Environment: The successful applicant will have the opportunity to work alongside health system clinicians and analysts to mobilize Canada’s leading health administrative data and advanced statistical methods to actively inform public debate and real time decision making in Saskatchewan and Canada. They will be one of several analysts working collaboratively to deliver this project. The study is a joint project between the Research Team of the Urban Public Health Network and the Research Department of the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The UPHN is a network of Medical Officers of Health who oversee public health in Canada’s leading urban centres. Representing 23 cities across the country, the network’s members are responsible for overseeing the population health of more than half of Canadians. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is an Academic Health Care Organization that aims to provide safe, effective and innovative care through evidence-based practice, training and research. The Research Department is responsible for advancing and mobilizing health research and research capacity within the organization. RDCs promote and facilitate research that uses Statistics Canada microdata within secure facilities on university campuses across Canada and managed by Statistics Canada.



Typical Duties or Accountabilities:

  • Work with project team members to plan and implement data management and analysis activities in support of the study protocol in the RDC.
  • Collaboratively ensure the smooth and efficient day-to-day operation of data management and analysis activities and reporting (including effective implementation of automation when applicable).
  • Effectively document all data management and analysis activities and outcomes in ways that support collaboration between team members (e.g. use of RMarkdown Notebooks).
  • Support team members in identifying statistical modelling and estimation approaches that are suitable to achieving the study objectives.
  • Implement data tabulation and visualization of results and support their integration with study reporting and dissemination.
  • Develop and maintain records of data management and analysis activities inside and outside of the RDC, and prepare periodic and ad hoc progress reports for the team.
  • Orally present progress reports to the wider research team at routine stand-up and planning meetings.
  • Support writing and wider reporting of study outcomes and results (including drafting of papers for peer-reviewed publication).
  • Perform miscellaneous job-related duties as assigned, including support for other programs related to UPHN and this study.


Education: The UPHN is seeking someone with graduate-level training in a related field (e.g. social science, data science, or engineering) or an equivalent combination of education and experience.



Experience: Based on the Public Health Core Competencies, the UPHN is seeking someone with demonstrable experience in: assessment and communication. Experience conducting and reporting on data analysis, particularly in secure research environments like the RDC, is preferred. Applicants with sufficient data experience need not necessarily have a strong health background. Quantitative reasoning, writing skills, and attention to detail are important in this role. Experience working and collaborating in a diverse and inclusive environment is required.



Duration and Location: 3-4 months up to full-time and casual afterward, extending up to 8 months. Start time is May 2022 (TBD according to availability but no later than July 2022).



Supervisor(s): The Coordinator will be co-supervised by and work closely with Dr. Cordell Neudorf (Nominated Principal Applicant; Professor), Dr. Charles Plante (Project Lead; Research Scientist), Dr. Thilina Bandara (Project Director), and Joanna Procyshen (Project Coordinator) in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Neudorf is also President of the UPHN and Dr. Plante is a Research Scientist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.



Important Dates: Applicants interested in exploring this position with UPHN should submit an application package consisting of a cover letter and CV to this posting. We will begin reviewing applications as soon as possible.



To Apply: Interested applicants must include the following in their application: cover letter and curriculum vitae. Inquiries for this position can be directed to Joanna Procyshen, j.procyshen@usask.ca.



Department: Community Hlth & Epidemiology
Status: Hourly
Employment Group: Graduate Students – PSAC
Rate of Pay: Current rates of pay
Posted Date: 5/6/2022
Closing Date: 2 Weeks. 5/19/2022
Number of Openings: 1
Work Location: On Campus



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Please review the University of Saskatchewan’s health and safety requirements for faculty, staff and students in consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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