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08 June 2021

Dr Gemma Bowsher of Conflict & Health Research Group wins top graduate prize

Dr Gemma Bowsher has won a contract to conduct to conduct research on health security intelligence in Canada

Gemma wins prize

Dr Gemma Bowsher from the Conflict and Health Research Group in the Department of War Studies, has recently been awarded the top graduate prize by the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) Institute Conference.

Her presentation at the Conference received unanimous acclaim from the judges, who awarded her the CDA Institute & Metro Supply Chain Graduate Student Fellowship. The prize involves a contract with the CDA to conduct research for the institute on health security intelligence in Canada.

Entitled 'Strengthening Capabilities for Health Security Intelligence Across the Five Eyes Alliance', her presentation discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief the disjointed nature of health and security processes governing domestic and international responses to diverse biological threats.

She argued in particular that the Five Eyes partnership, an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, merits greater focus in the field of health security intelligence capability development. The range of health security capabilities and intelligence gathering systems across the network is vast, yet under-exploited.

Her conclusions highlighted how COVID-19 reveals the grave risks of health insecurity writ large. With the pandemic leading to novel opportunities for hostile actors to exploit vulnerabilities in the domestic public health and security machinery, alongside the significant population consequences of the COVID-19 illness. This dual threat, said Dr Bowsher, necessitated the strengthening of integrated national systems for health security intelligence in Canada and across Five Eyes nations.

Dr Gemma Bowsher is a medical doctor and social scientist working on global health security with a focus on health intelligence systems and public health in conflict settings. She is part of the Conflict and Health Research Group, where she focuses on health security intelligence, linking clinical domains with intelligence processes within national governance systems. 

The Conference of Defence Associations Institute is a non-partisan, registered charitable organisation that conducts research and education programming on defence and security. The flagship event is the annual Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, which brings together defence ministers, thought leaders, generals and senior public servants from all corners of the world to discuss international security and Canada’s alliances and engagement in the world. The Student Engagement Programme offers mentorship and paid work opportunities.



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Gemma Bowsher

Senior Research Associate