Laura Struik

40 under 40: Laura Struik

The Kelowna Chamber partners with BDO on the Top 40 Under 40

The Kelowna Chamber is proud to partner with BDO on the Top 40 Under 40 program for 2022. Top 40 Under 40 recognizes young professionals in our community and their many accomplishments. This year we will be recognizing the young, local difference-makers, leaders and entrepreneurs who are making an impact in the Central Okanagan.

Laura acquired her Masters and PhD at UBC Okanagan under the supervision of a world renowned cancer prevention researcher, which has led Laura to her current position as an Assistant Professor at UBC Okanagan’s School of Nursing. Her research program is focused on understanding and addressing the current landscape of tobacco use, which includes the rapid uptake of e-cigarettes among young Canadians. Initial research projects in this area, grounded in collaboration with Okanagan partners and youth, are the foundation for advancing and innovating tobacco control efforts on a national level. In other words, some of the most exciting developments in this field started with the voices of Okanagan youth.

Laura is currently leading several research projects with funding support by CIHR, the Ministry of Health through the BC Lung Foundation, and the University of British Columbia. The aim of these projects is to understand factors that influence vaping uptake and cessation among young Canadians, the health trajectories of young e-cigarette users, and how they can develop more meaningful initiatives to resonate with them. Through these projects, Laura is mentoring several graduate and undergraduate students, all of whom have outstanding records of achievement to date, and are authors on multiple research outputs, including reports for the government and publications in high impact journals. Laura is also teaching in the graduate program at the School of Nursing, through where she hopes to inspire graduate nursing students in relation to the history of nursing and the importance of advancing the discipline through scholarly activities.

She has been actively involved in engaging the Okanagan community as it relates to her research. In addition to presenting her work at schools and community events, she has also formed partnerships with organizations that are committed to launching more meaningful initiatives to support youth. Key partners in this work include the BC Lung Foundation, Interior Health, Westbank First Nation, and Legacy for Airway Health. These partnerships are key to success in achieving their national goal of less than 5% tobacco use by 2035, and their role in driving this work, and engaging youth, cannot be underestimated. The community and province have so much to contribute in relation to improving tobacco control efforts, and Laura is excited to get to be a part of it and facilitate getting the word out so that efforts not only improve in the community, but also in BC and Canada. This has already begun, and youth in the Okanagan are working towards developing e-cigarette prevention messages that resonate with them on social media.

Laura has an extensive educational background with the highest level of education a PhD, and this is the sequence with the associated location and year of completion: -Bachelor’s in Nursing Science (BSN) from Laurentian University, ON, 2008

-Masters in Nursing (MSN) (UBC Okanagan) 2012

– PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies (UBC Okanagan) 2017

– Post-doctoral Fellowship (University of Waterloo, ON) 2019

Laura received a 2021 Canadian Cancer Society Emerging Scholar award, which is a nationally competitive award. She was the only applicant across all of Canada representing cancer prevention to have received this award. This is a five-year funding award that enables scholars to focus on building their programs of research, and in Laura’s case, this award enables her to rapidly respond to the evolving nature of tobacco use among young Canadians.

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