Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary
Department of Anthropology & Archeology
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary AB T2N 1N4
I am a biological anthropologist with a research focus on health inequities in developing countries and Canada, particularly among those most marginalized in these regions, women and children. In this, I explore the impact of behavior on health as decades of research have documented that health varies in relation to culture and that only by understanding behavior can we begin to provide sustainable solutions. My early work focused on children in urban Colombia, Amerindians in the Colombian Amazon and Guyana’s rainforests, and refugees in Canada. In 2011, in collaboration with colleagues in Tanzania, Canada, and the US, I initiated and ran a project documenting maternal-and-child-health outcomes and predictors. In this work we explore the correlates of subclinical inflammation among very young children because elevated inflammation sheds light on near-term health risk, early episodes of inflammation may compromise the development of the innate immune response, and inflammation in young children also has been found to predict reduced growth. In 2014, in collaboration with colleagues in Nicaragua and the US, I initiated a project in rural Nicaragua to explore the relationship between an array of environmental predictors and an innovative model of health outcomes which captures the cumulative dysregulation of biological systems confronting chronic environmental challenges (allostatic load). Each of these studies required the cultivation of relationships with focal populations and relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies, the coordination of interdisciplinary teams and logistics, often in extremely isolated regions where little goes as planned, months to years of participant observation, and refinement of research instruments via focus groups and multiple rounds of trial and error. Ultimately, I seek to identify barriers to maternal and child health in these regions, which in the long-term should lead to the development of new evidence-based and locally-relevant solutions.