Corliss Bean


Corliss Bean

Postdoctoral Fellow

Health and Social Development

Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)

PhD Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa (2017)
MA Sport Psychology, University of Ottawa (2013)
BSc Human Kinetics (Honours), University of Ottawa (2011)

Markham, Ontario

“Throughout my research, the importance of providing people with the tools they need to make their own changes has become so evident. It’s all about prevention.”

Corliss’ Story

UBC Okanagan postdoctoral fellow Corliss Bean follows 14 women for a year to explore their lifestyle change journey to prevent Type 2 diabetes

SCHOOL OF HEALTH AND EXERCISE SCIENCES’ POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW CORLISS BEAN’S PASSION for applied research started early in her academic career. Her research began in her undergrad and throughout her graduate degrees at the University of Ottawa she worked with community organizations to develop, implement and evaluate youth programs to foster healthy development.

Learn more about Health and Exercise Sciences Seeing positive changes in program participants inspired Bean, reinforcing her passion for applied research. When she heard Associate Professor Mary Jung present the Small Steps for Big Changes program at a conference, Bean approached Jung to express interest in working in her lab at UBC Okanagan.


Small Steps for Big Changes is a three-week behaviour change program that promotes a healthy diet and regular exercise, critical to preventing the development of Type 2 diabetes. Mary Jung and her research team at UBCO developed the program to curb the growing number of Canadians living with Type 2 diabetes. Described as the silent epidemic, Diabetes Canada forecasts that one out of four Canadians will be living with prediabetes by 2025.

To date, Small Steps for Big Changes has supported 320 people in creating long-lasting, positive lifestyle changes at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The program appears to be working. Now, Bean plans to find out why.

To explore the experiences of Small Steps for Big Changes program participants, Bean received a prestigious Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research award.


With improved fitness and lower blood sugar levels, the Small Steps for Big Changes participants have been thrilled with their lifestyle changes. But Bean stresses that the program is much more than the successful metrics.

“Throughout my research, the importance of providing people with the tools they need to make their own changes has become so evident. It’s all about prevention.”

Within her postdoctoral research at UBC Okanagan, Bean explores women’s journeys through the Small Steps for Big Changes program, including the critical step of connecting months after the program is complete to understand whether the program’s principles stick.


Working closely with 14 women who participated in the program, Bean will study their journey to understand why the program is working. Over the course of a three-year project, Bean endeavors to uncover the key to the project’s success.

“We want to understand how adults adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle changes. The results for the participants are exciting,” says Bean.

For participants, the program was a complete lifestyle change, says Bean. “This is exactly what the program is designed to do: create lifestyle habits that stick.”

Bean says hearing success stories from the Small Steps for Big Changes alumni reinforce the value of incremental lifestyle improvement.

“It makes me excited to continue the work,” says Bean, who, along with Jung, hosted a series of knowledge sharing events to explore how they can continue to support clients beyond the three-week behaviour change program.

Due to its initial success, plans are now underway to expand the Small Steps for Big Changes program across YMCA’s within the Okanagan region and beyond.