Research with heart

Research with heart

For some, research is an exercise in theory. For others, like Dr. Kirsten Madsen, it is a calling — and powerful way to create real change in real people and their communities.

For Dr. Kirsten Madsen, traditional Ivory Tower, theoretical research doesn’t spark her interest.

“I want to do research that impacts communities and people rather than do work that just gets stored away in a journal,” she said.

As a psychology professor in Sheridan’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, she is doing just that, using her knowledge and investigative skills to improve people’s lives.

Kirsten’s applied research resume includes collaborating with Northern Ontario First Nations communities in the Girls Project, a SSHRC-funded research project. In a similar theme, her ongoing research, called the Talking Back project, is in response to the concerns raised by community members and staff from Dilico Anishinabek family care about the growing number of girls being referred to their services. Talking Back is a qualitative study that engages researchers, clinicians, and the girls themselves in a collaborative environment designed to advance our knowledge of the development of First Nations’ girls.

Not content to pursue her own meaningful research, Kirsten spearheaded the development (and is now Chair) of Sheridan’s Research Ethics Board, which provides the necessary framework so all Sheridan students and professors can ethically embark on their own applied research projects.

While her work is having a great impact in society, it’s also benefitting her students at Sheridan. She brings her results and experience right into her classroom, which then spreads far and wide throughout the Faculty.

“Teaching is easy at Sheridan,” she explained. “Students come with their minds open and they do not yet have rigid barriers. We are so lucky because we get to do what we love.”