Michael Smetana

Degree Program: PhD


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