Holly Longstaff joined the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics as a doctoral fellow (04-08) in CIHR’s Ethics of Health Research and Policy Training Program. She received a Bachelor of Arts and Pre Master’s from the University of Manitoba and studied Chekhov and Shakespeare at Harvard University’s Loeb Drama Center during a Harvard Radcliffe Summer Theatre Internship before coming to UBC to complete a Master of Arts degree at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability. Her mentors are Michael McDonald and Tim McDaniels.
I am interested in experimenting with and evaluating new methods of risk communication. The objective of my research is to help people make better health related decisions concerning complex technologies. The subjects I primarily focus on are aquaculture (genetically modified salmon, genetically modified salmon feeds) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). How an individual processes information and their ultimate actions depend on many influences including knowledge of the issue, personal values, and the influence of norms. The communication materials I create attempt to reflect the complex nature of these relationships. Learning more about the factors that influence an individual’s decisions will help me to create a tool that reaches beyond the factual information model of communicating risk. The information gathered in my research should advance the study of risk communication generally while also informing standards and methods of risk communication with laypeople and experts on a range of health related issues for government departments like Health Canada.