Debra Kriger

Debra Kriger

Debra Kriger

Alumna, PhD (2018), Exercise Sciences

“I study how our sociocultural context relates our bodies to the past, present, and future.”

Academically and professionally, my background is in public health. Currently, I study how our sociocultural context relates our bodies to the past, present, and future. I’ll be using innovative, arts-based, critical, qualitative health research methods to understand how folks make sense of body-size stigma and risk.

When I was applying to PhD programs, I contacted many potential supervisors across Canada to see if our interests aligned. While I appreciated all of the resulting discussions, my supervisor was the only person who heard what I was saying and expanded my thoughts.

For me, the most remarkable part of the University of Toronto is the people it hosts. The support and guidance I’ve received from my supervisor and committee are invaluable. The staff, faculty, and fellow students in Exercise Sciences give this place life. I was looking for somewhere I could be part of a community, and the Department of Exercise Sciences consciously provides the necessities to foster that sense.

Part of the University community is the academic support it provides, and I want to acknowledge the supports I had in applying for the Banting and Best Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). My department’s research officer curates a library of successful applications to which I had access; English Language and Writing Support offers students a course on how to write a CIHR proposal that includes a one-on-one review session; my supervisor offered to review my application; the Life Sciences Writing Centre booked me in and helped me make my proposal precise; the School of Graduate Studies’ CIHR liaison answered my questions; and fellow students supported me when I didn’t receive the award on my first application and encouraged me to keep it up.

Advice for prospective students would be to talk with the administrators about the program, talk with the people you might want to work with, and talk with their students. Ask lots of questions. Try to imagine what it will be like working there: what will you need, and where can you get it? Look at as many places and programs as you are willing to look. Do what you need to do to find what fits best for you, and be kind to yourself.