Eden Blackwell

Eden Blackwell


I’m a PHD student in Biocultural Medical Anthropology.  My previous degrees are in international studies and sociology (BA) from the University of Mississippi and international health and development (MPH) from Tulane University.  Much of my professional experience has been in health policy, a field I maintain a strong passion for and one I hope to complement through a study of critical medical anthropology. I’m interested in planetary health, climate change, human-environment interactions, epigenetics, alternative healthcare delivery models, maternal health, and aging.

Lisa Brazelton

Elizabeth “Lisa” Brazelton


As a doctoral student in BioCultural Medical Anthropology, my research focuses on Hemp for Hope. Hemp for Hope seeks to examine hemp as a catalyst for cultural change in the areas of health (medicinally), economics, and the environment (as a bioremediation crop) and compare this cross-culturally and traditionally, adding a historical/archaeological component to my research. My overarching question is concerned with how this ancient crop, which has recently been legalized in the U.S. and across the globe, is being used to create hope in a multitude of cultural areas, across cultural and geographic boundaries, and in various populations. Themes related to this study include sovereignty, resiliency, and poverty. This research follows my master’s thesis, The Resilient Warrior: A Lakota Ethnography in Hemp Economics, which looked at hemp cultivation connected to issues of sovereignty and resiliency among the Oglala Lakota. I received my M.A. in Anthropology (2019) and B.A. degrees in International Studies and Anthropology (1989) from the University of West Florida. Between degrees, I worked with the National Park Service as a Park Ranger and Archaeologist, served in AmeriCorps, held a position as a governor-appointed Alabama State Commissioner with the Office for National and Community Service, and volunteered with 4-H and the University of South Alabama’s Center for Archaeological Studies. At UA, I am concurrently working on my Graduate Museum Studies Certificate, and I am part of the Human Behavioral Ecology Research Group (HBERG), Tide Together, and a UA volunteer for testing hemp through Biological Sciences.

Kohl Dothage


I received a B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish with a minor in Forensic Science from Southern Illinois University in 2013 and an M.A. in Anthropology from Wichita State University in 2016.

Broadly, my research focuses on differential health outcomes among agriculturalists living in rural, highland Nicaragua. I seek to better understand how and why different livelihood strategies are employed within varying economic, social, and ecological constraints, and how these choices impact household and community health and well-being. Additionally, I have further interest in and have completed previous research on the use of social networking sites and their relationship to the anti-vaccine movement in the United States.

Robert Else


I recently received my Master’s Degree from Colorado State University, where I worked with Dr. Snodgrass focusing on psychological anthropology and religion. My thesis research explored the interaction between traditional religious values and the internet among university age students in Udaipur, India. I found that for those students who consider the internet to be a threat to traditional religious values, they also report higher levels of psychological stress.

For my PhD research, I plan to continue doing research in India investigating the relationship between religious ritual and health outcomes among Muslims in Jaipur, India, using stress biomarkers as outcomes. There is a gap in the literature regarding the specific mechanisms by which religious ritual contributes to well-being, which I hope to be able to address. My other research interests include online gaming, social network analysis, religion in general, and mental health.

Baili Gall


I graduated from Indiana University in 2017 with a BS in Human Biology and a minor in Anthropology. Upon graduation, I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and served low income communities to decrease the hunger gap in greater Indianapolis. This experience piqued my interest in the relationship between food insecurity and child health and widened my knowledge on existing social inequalities in America.

As a PhD student, I will continue my work on food insecurity, child developmental outcomes and the utilization and implementation of federal nutrition programs (i.e., The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, The National School Lunch Program, The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program) in Tuscaloosa. Additionally, I will explore community perceptions of such programs, individual stigma-related experiences due to enrollment and how instances of stigma impact overall well-being.

Mandy Guitar



I received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Theatre Arts from New Mexico State University (2010) and an M.A. in Psychology from SUNY New Paltz (2013). I also have an M.A. in Biological Anthropology (2015) and a Graduate Certificate in Evolutionary Studies (2017) from Binghamton University.

My dissertation research is focused on transgender and nonbinary health in the Deep South. Some of my previous research topics include human olfactory perceptions, competition on social networking sites, and conceptualizations of emotional and sexual infidelity.

Nikki Henderson



I earned a BS in Anthropology and Human Biology from Emory University in 2014 and a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Alabama in 2016. Broadly, my research focuses on stigma surrounding drug use and misuse, from the ​perspectives of both members of society and individuals receiving treatment for substance use disorders. I utilize cognitive anthropological methods to conceptualize and visualize how people think about the etiology of addiction. This collection of ideas about the causes of a particular mental illness are referred to as “folk psychiatry” or “ethnopsychiatry,” and these have been shown to be guiding factors behind public attitudes of individuals with mental illness. In my Master’s research, I demonstrated that individuals who have a medical understanding of substance use and misuse stigmatize less than individuals who conceptualize addiction as moral moral deviance.

With my dissertation work, I seek to continue this research in urban Brazil, where rates of addiction and stigma are high, but treatment utilization is incredibly low.The project has two main objectives: first, to construct a culturally specific model of what people believe makes individuals susceptible to addiction (i.e., personal flaws, genetics, poverty?); and second, to use this model to explore experiences of stigma among people withsubstance use disorder and stigma attribution among people without substance use disorder in Ribeirão Preto. I argue that stigma must be understood as a relational and active phenomenon, and therefore the project focuses on both the perspectives of the stigmatizer and the stigmatized. This multidimensional approach is one that is rarely utilized by global mental health researchers, but is critical to fully understanding the scope of public health crises like substance use in Brazil.

Kathleen Jackson

Kathleen Jackson


I am a doctoral student working towards my PhD in Biocultural Medical Anthropology and MPH in Health Promotion. My research interests include maternal reproductive practices, child development, and child undernutrition within the first 1,000 days. Prior to joining the University of Alabama, I earned my BA in Anthropology from The College of Wooster and worked as a Community Health Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa (2015-17).


Rabeya Khatun


I am Mst Rabeya Khatun . I am doing my Ph.D. in Biocultural medical anthropology with Dr. Holly Horan. Both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in anthropology and I currently serve as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Comilla University in my home country of Bangladesh. For most of my career, I have been a medical anthropologist, analyzing how cultural and environmental factors in Bangladesh impact reproductive health, gendered forms of care, and maternal and infant health in allopathic settings. As a doctoral student, I am interested in investigating the mode of birth and the shifting political economy in Bangladesh. My recent research has focused on maternal and infant health in Bangladesh and I intend to continue these studies throughout my doctoral education.

Emily Locke

Emily Locke


Emily is  currently pursuing a dual degree in biocultural medical anthropology and public health. She is also in the process of becoming a postpartum doula! Her thesis explores how the combined effects of multiple disasters impact perceptions of infant health and well-being in Alabama’s gulf coast. Emily  supports Dr. Horan’s maternal and infant health research needs assessment and serves as the Graduate Student Secretariat for Partners for Alabama Families and Communities (PAFC), a trans-disciplinary perinatal health collaborative at UA.

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Maegan McCane

Maegan McCane


I am native of Mobile, Alabama, and in 2018 I received my bachelor’s degree from UA in International Studies with a focus on Latin America and a minor in Spanish. Immediately after graduating, I moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where I worked with youth teaching English while actively participating in community development projects in an urban setting. I initially wanted to be a physician, but after attending a medical science program at Brown University, I realized that my true passion wasn’t medicine. So I decided to come home and pursue a degree in anthropology. Going in, I knew that I wanted my research to be on my former students in Bogotá and the community that we shared. I was fascinated watching them define their identities for the first time as they became teenagers and young adults. As a result, my research interests include youth, development, mental health, and body image.

I am an MA student as well as a part of the dual degree MPH program. I am passionate about applied anthropology and how anthropology can be used to better our world and institutions.

Simone McDaniels

Simone McDaniels


My name is Simone McDaniels, and I am a 2020 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and a minor in psychology. For my senior Honors Capstone Project, I conducted an ethnographic study that investigated whether and how racial microaggressions impact the cardiovascular health of African Americans. I am currently a master’s student interested in investigating how experiencing racial microaggressions may impact the cardiovascular health of African American people in Alabama. I would like to utilize multiple methods of measuring bio-markers of stress while analyzing the social context of these stressors through ethnography.

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Avery McNeece


I am a first year Ph.D. student in Biocultural Medical Anthropology. I have a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Applied Anthropology from Mississippi State University. Broadly, I am interested in community health care and health care access among the poor. For my master’s thesis, I explored a cultural model of health seeking among the working poor in Tupelo, MS. My preliminary work for my dissertation studies has been focused on the relationship between moral categories of poverty and healthcare outcomes.

I am also passionate about community engagement and applied anthropology. As part of an applied anthropology graduate class, I worked with 4th graders in the community to discuss their visions of their community in the future through artwork. Images produced by the 4th graders and quotes were used to create books presented to participants, schools, and community leaders. This added the kids’ voices to the discussions among the community planners, and helped them learn about civic responsibility and their role in the community. The images were also turned into coloring books for the kids to keep to foster continued discussions about the future.

Larry Monocello


I graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2015 with a B.A. in Anthropology and minors in Italian and Chemistry. I was drawn to Anthropology because of how it effectively challenges the “commonsense” approach to understanding the world.

My research interest lies in the cross-cultural manifestation and experience of body image and body image disorders. Body image disorders are lifelong, as well as some of the deadliest psychiatric illnesses known. Further, previous work by anthropologists has found that the experience and causes of body image disorders vary cross-culturally. I am interested in studying body image and body image disorders in men, and eventually men in minority groups as well.

Picture of Sarah, smiling.

Sarah Elizabeth Morrow


Sarah is a PhD student in Biocultural Medical Anthropology, working with Dr. Jason DeCaro. She completed her MA thesis on food security and resources utilization in a low-income population in Tuscaloosa. Her PhD work looks at the integration and implementation of Social Determinants of Health evaluation and intervention in clinical medicine within the US. Currently, she is also a practicing anthropologist, working as the Pediatric Clinical Coordinator for Medicaid and CHIP for the UPMC Health Plan in Pennsylvania.

Matt Pappalardo

Matthew Pappalardo


My name is Matthew Pappalardo and I’m a student of Anthropology with a focus in the biocultural subfield. I work on several projects, but chiefly I study maternal-infant health in Western Alabama with Dr. Holly Horan and the physiological effects of fireside relaxation with Dr. Chris Lynn. In the future, I hope to research the psychosocial effects of Celiac disease on different populations, as well as work in the field of Public Health.

Olivia Radcliffe


Research Interest: Biocultural Medical Anthropology, Culture Specific/Bound Syndrome, Cross-cultural analysis of healthcare models, Autoimmune disease, Gastric distress and illness. Anthropology, BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Alex Sents


I am an Accelerated Master’s Student with a focus on Biocultural Medicine. My undergraduate studies are in biology and anthropology with the specialties of pre-medical and pre-health courses. My dream is to go to medical school and combine my anthropological and biological knowledge for the health and well-being of the community through integrative practices.

Michael Smetana

Michael Smetana


I am a PhD student with a focus in Biocultural Medical Anthropology. My interest in tattooing, as both a cultural and therapeutic practice, led me to the Human Behavioral Ecology Research Group (HBERG). As part of the group, I plan to explore the ritual of tattooing as an embodied experience, and its effects on health and immune response.

I received my MSc in Evolution and Human Behavior (2017) from the University of Kent in Canterbury, U.K. My thesis research centered on human-environment interactions, comparing psycho-physiological effects of walking in natural and urban environments among postgraduates in Canterbury. I graduated with a BSc in Biochemistry (2013) from Notre Dame College in my hometown of Cleveland, OH. Between degrees, I worked as a Research Assistant, studying health and physiology in extreme environments, as well as cardiovascular disease states, and remote monitoring technology with the Mayo Clinics Human Integrative and Environmental Physiology Lab. I also freelanced as a research consultant, managed a supported living home for adults living with developmental disabilities, and taught students with autism spectrum diagnoses and emotional/behavioral challenges.

My other research interests include:

  • Health systems reform
  • Decolonizing anthropology
  • Language, emotion and communicating science and public health
  • Critically applied biocultural medical anthropology
  • Embodied social justice and community engaged research (CEnR)
  • Integrative medicine and biomedical translation of ethnomedical practices/systems
  • Cultural impacts on health, human evolutionary biology, and the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES)
  • Climate change and health, biopolitics, human-animal-environmental interactions and multispecies ecologies