SPH researcher profile: Lalita Bharadwaj

Dr. Bharadwaj is an Associate Professor and award-winning researcher in the School of Public Health. She is also co-leader of the Safe Water for Health Research Team.

Lalita Bharadwaj

In addition to her leadership roles, Dr. Bharadwaj is a prolific researcher in barriers and access to safe drinking water in Indigenous communities, human and environmental health risk assessments, and community-based participatory research. She has received many significant awards including the 2016 Women of Distinction Award for Research and Technology, and the University of Saskatchewan’s Award for Distinction in Community-Engaged Teaching and Scholarship in the fall of 2013.

Dr. Bharadwaj’s research aims first and foremost to improve everyday human health conditions for the most vulnerable population groups, which is facilitated by her background in toxicology.

Her interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work is both personally rewarding, and most effective in enhancing the positive social and environmental determinants of health in society.

Two recent projects demonstrate the breadth and impact of her work:

The Canadian Water Network funded Slave Watershed Environmental Effect Program (SWEEP) program, from 2012-2016 in the Northwest Territories of Canada involved the co-development of an environment monitoring program with local people such as Elders, hunters and anglers, school children, government agencies, and researchers from as disparate disciplines as hydrology, biology, and the fine arts.

Dr. Bharadwaj’s most important contribution to this legacy project was the co-production of a whiteboard animation video that included student artists and dramatists working with Elders, research assistants and government agency representatives to turn the results of Elder interviews into a moving and evidence-based video about the changes in the Slave River and Delta over the last 100 years, soon to be highlighted by the UNESCO- and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation-funded Acting on Climate Change – Indigenous Innovations project.

SWEEP whiteboard animation video: Delta Days Remembered.

Lalita Bharadwaj talks with Elder Harvey Mandeville of Fort Resolution, NWT

Dr. Bharadwaj’s  co-led Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant Water Regulations: Impact on First Nations Health Equity and Promotion, and Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) grant towards the establishment of the Safe Water for Health Research Team have resulted in a network of academic researchers, Indigenous scholars and organizations, and health sector agency representatives working together to improve the access and provision of safe drinking water on reserves.

The resulting research program has produced important publications including one examining the federal progress on action plans for safe water on reserves which has had widespread media attention (Morrison et al., 2015) as well as foundational research on social determinants of health and cultural sensitivities around water services on reserves (Waldner et al., 2017; Bradford et al., 2016). 

Dr. Bharadwaj is an enthusiastic graduate supervisor and mentor, well respected by her students and her network as shown in her nomination for the University of Saskatchewan College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies’ Distinguished Graduate Supervisor Award in 2016. Her drive for excellence in ethical and meaningful research is one example of how the School of Public Health is committed to multidisciplinary work, and excellence in research and community outreach.

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