Paper mandates

INTERACT is recruiting graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to lead analysis and write scientific articles on the impacts of urban form interventions on mobility patterns, equity, and health in Canada.

We are offering stipends ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 to students to join our collaborative team. You will benefit from mentorship, leadership experience, a flexible work schedule, access to expert staff and interdisciplinary researchers, and cleaned and ready-to-be analyzed data tables.

Prority Research Areas

A) How do perceptions and use of urban form intervention vary by gender and age, and by COVID phase?

    Background COVID-19 has had differential impacts on health and mobility patterns.

    Data Health survey variables collected in 2020 in Saskatoon, Montreal, and Vancouver


    • Operationalize use, frequency of use and perception of urban form interventions
    • Operationalize differences in behavior by COVID phase (most locked down phase, vs current context (fall 2020))
    • Analyze use in relation to gender and age

    B) How do we measure changes in urban form over time? How do we measure changes in human behaviour over time? What is meaningful change?

      Expertise required GISc, strong methodological background

      Background Measuring and understanding exposure to and changes in the urban environment is crucial for public health intervention research. Features of the urban environment like green space, park access, land use mix, transit access, and bike infrastructure relate to population health outcomes. Researchers can use a range of methods to track changes, such as continuous updates to open data GIS layers, GSV image segmentation, and crowd-sourcing initiatives.

      Based on the lead author’s interests, this paper could be conceptual, or describe a case study and demonstrate the potential of these methods.

      Objectives of the paper

      • Document methods for tracking urban form changes over time
      • Discuss challenges and opportunities for methodological advancements / Demonstrate the application of these methods for public health intervention research
      • Detail exposure measures based on urban form change data
      • Discuss how researchers can detect meaningful change

      C) How does the nature of one's social network relate to daily mobility, and usage of urban form interventions?

        Expertise required Social network analysis

        Background While population health is influenced both by social networks and the built environment in people’s activity space, little research has considered spatial and social contexts simultaneously. The VERITAS survey combines map-based questionnaire with a name generator tool. Network analysis provides a useful framework for studying connections between social and spatial contexts.

        Data Health Survey, VERITAS, GPS (optional)


        • Create a typology of social network types using VERITAS data
        • Operationalize daily mobility using survey data, or GPS data from smartphone
        • Operationalize use of urban form interventions using survey variables
        • Analyze how social network relates to daily mobility and usage of urban form

          D) How are different environments associated with mood and well-being?

            Expertise required Analysis of repeated measures

            Background The types of environments in which we spent time can impact how we feel during the day. As cities are increasingly interested in indicators of well-being, better understanding the impact of environment on mood can help design happier cities.

            Data Health Survey, GPS, EMA


            • Characterize urban environments (considering one, some, or all of the following: greenness, active transportation infrastructure, land use, walkability, transit accessibility)
            • Assess exposure to urban environments
            • Operationalize mood and well-being
            • Analyze effect of environment on mood and well-being

              E) What are participants’ experience of place as it pertains to physical activity, social connectedness, and well-being?

                Expertise required Qualitative Data Analysis

                Data Semi-structured interviews, Health survey variables

                Background People’s experiences and perceptions are a function of the person, the environment, and interaction of the person with the environment, and these can inform how environments relate to health outcomes.


                • Code interview data from different project sites.
                • Integrate interview data with other project data (survey
                  data, GPS/accelerometry data, ecological momentary assessment data, spatial data)
                • Identify themes surrounding participants experience of place

                  F) How does trip frequency during the different phases of COVID-19 pandemic relate to satisfaction with physical activity, social connections, and state of well-being for different population groups?

                  Background Mobility patterns were disrupted during the pandemic. Understanding how changes to mobility patterns may relate to various health outcomes can help public health intervention researchers predict how mobility interventions may impact health.

                  Data Health Survey Data


                  • Calculate trip frequency per phase of COVID lockdown
                  • Relate trip frequency with self-perception variables and socio-demographic variables
                  • Discuss cross-tabulated results and potential of mobility interventions on health

                        G) How are policy and implementation decisions made with respect to built environment interventions, and how are health and equity considered?

                        Background To better understand the implementation and impact of built environment interventions, it is important to understand the policy context in which these changes are made. We are recruiting a student to join us in investigating how policy and implementation decisions are made with respect to built environment interventions, and whether/how health and equity are considered.

                        Data Urban policy documents


                        • Conduct a policy document analysis to identify language related to health and equity. In each city, we will include recent and historically relevant policies and plans concerning transportation, sustainability, and healthy cities. After initial review of policy documents, the student will develop a policy code book specific for each city.
                        • Set up key informant interviews to evaluate how and why decisions around the built environment interventions were made, and who was considered in these decisions. In each city, the student will interview 5-8 intersectoral participants (e.g. city staff, elected officials, advocates). They will contribute to the preparation of a semi-structured interview guide.
                        • Prepare summary reports to city partners to share findings from analysis: the student will contribute to the production of lay material for stakeholders.
                        • Lead a manuscript to be submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed scientific journal

                              Expected deliverables

                              • Analysis plan: Refine and confirm your analysis plan with an INTERACT investigator and staff who will support you in advancing your assigned research question
                              • Scripts: Building on existing work, share your final analysis scripts on GitHub
                              • Published manuscript: Lead the writing, submission, and revisions for your manuscript, with support from INTERACT’s research team.


                                  • Self-directed graduate student in research-related field (Public Health, Health Sciences, Epi, Urban Planning, Geography, Computer Science or similar)
                                  • Strong writing skills in English
                                  • Strong analytical skills and ability to lead analysis planning and operationalization 
                                  • Using R code an asset

                                  Ready to get started?

                                  • Choose one the priority research areas and proposed methods above
                                  • Complete the application form
                                  • Send your CV and completed application form to national@teaminteract.ca

                                  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. 

                                  Available Data

                                  The INTErventions, Research and Action in Cities Team (INTERACT) is a CIHR-funded research program evaluating the impact of major urban interventions in four Canadian cities (Victoria, Vancouver, Saskatoon, and Montreal) on population health and health inequalities. INTERACT collects longitudinal mobility, activity, well-being and health data from our cohorts through online questionnaires, a smartphone app, and a multi-sensor research device.

                                  Below is a list of data sets available for analysis.

                                  Health Survey

                                  INTERACT’s Health Survey relate to the project’s key health outcomes: physical activity, social participation, and well-being. The core questionnaire also includes questions on socio-demographic data, general health, use of activity monitors, housing type, and neighbourhood. Site-specific questions relate to transportation, mobility and the use of the intervention.

                                   View Data Dictionary


                                  VERITAS (Visualisation, Evaluation and Recording of Itineraries and Activity Spaces) is a self-administered online map-based survey that collects 1) data on regular locations frequented by the participant; and 2) the social network of the participant. Participants indicate the people or groups with whom they visit certain places, enabling researchers to map a participant’s social network to their activity space. The questionnaire allows researchers to understand complex interactions between daily mobility, social networks, and urban environments.


                                   View Data Dictionary

                                  Physical Activity / Movement Data

                                  High frequency accelerometry data collected through with the SenseDoc, a research grade multisensor device used for mobility (GPS) and physical activity (accelerometer) tracking is available for a subset of participants. These data are collected continuously for 10 days. Accelerometry data has been cleaned and processed.


                                  View Data Dictionary

                                  GPS Data

                                  GPS Data High frequency GPS data collected through with the SenseDoc, a research grade multisensor device used for mobility (GPS) and physical activity (accelerometer) tracking is available for a subset of participants. These data are collected continuously for 10 days. GPS data has been cleaned and processed.

                                  View Data Dictionary

                                  Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)

                                  Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) Geo-tagged EMA data on mood, travel behavior, and more was collected through the Ethica App. The Short Mood Scale (SMS) measures affective states by asking: “At this moment, I feel…” and asking participants to place a slider somewhere between the left end and the right end of a bipolar scale. The EMA survey is sent to participants 3 times a day for 7 days, and covers three dimensions of affect, each of which is composed of two scales: valence (unwell vs. well, discontent vs. content), calmness (relaxed vs. tense, calm vs. agitated), and energetic arousal (tired vs. awake, without energy vs. full of energy).


                                  View Data Dictionary

                                  Interviews / qualitative data

                                  Semi-structured interviews on participant’s experience of place were conducted in four cities. Interviews have been transcribed and de-nominalized.