I am an anthropologist investigating the causes of health inequalities and formulating strategies to promote environmental and human health.
My mission is to identify the pathways creating global health disparities and to use this scientific knowledge for action to improve human and ecological well-being.
This trajectory began when I visited a Shuar community in the Ecuadorian Amazon when I was 16 years old. During this visit, indigenous community members told me that they were concerned about their health and well-being as the highways being built on the edge of the rainforest were creating threats to their culture and livelihoods.
Since this visit, I have dedicated my studies and career to examining how environmental and cultural changes influence health. Beginning as an undergraduate, I investigated stress biology at Johns Hopkins University and graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in Behavioral Biology with honors. That year, I was awarded a grant from the Johns Hopkins Program in Latin American studies and conducted a project identifying common health issues in indigenous communities and the local medicinal plants that treated them in the Manu Biosphere in the southern Peruvian Amazon.
An interest in ethnobotany and indigenous health led me to pursue a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Northwestern University beginning in 2009. Over the next few years, I completed leadership trainings, conducted research, and filmed documentaries in indigenous communities in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru. In 2015 I completed my doctoral studies, which resulted in a range of publications on the pathways creating vulnerability to poor health in the Peruvian Amazon.
The need to integrate my research with environmental justice initiatives led me to a postdoctoral fellowship at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where I worked with teams combining science, education, and conservation action in the Andes-Amazon region of South America and in Chicago’s urban neighborhoods.
In 2016, I stepped back from full-time work to have my children. However, I used this time to hone my pedagogical skills in a variety contexts. This included teaching courses in anthropology, global health, and environmental justice at Salve Regina University, University of Massachusetts Boston, and The College of the Holy Cross. I also stayed active with my research and publications and was awarded a Knowledge Frontiers: International Interdisciplinary Research grant from the British Academy to begin my next major research project, investigating the relationship between water insecurity and gender-based violence in Peru and Indonesia.
In the Fall of 2021, I joined the Department of Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago (LUC) as an Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology and the Director of the Laboratory for Human Health and History (HHH Lab). I am teaching courses such as "Sex, Science and Anthropological Inquiry" (ANTH 106) and "Social Science and Epidemics" (ANTH 362) and continue working with
international research teams on investigations of human health, water insecurity, and climate change. In the last year, I received a HWISE-RCN Collaborator Accelerator Grant and a LUC-INSPIRED Micro-grant to support this work.
In terms of research, this April, two LUC undergraduate students (Aman Kothadia and Natalie Archdeacon) will join me for fieldwork in Peru. This work is be being generously supported by LUC's College of Arts and Sciences, School of Social Work, School of Public Health, the Department of Anthropology, and the Program in Bioethics.
If you are a student or researcher interested in any of these topics, please do reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of Beni, Bolivian Amazon 2010
I am an Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago and a Research Associate in the Keller Science Action Center in The Field Museum of Natural History.
I am also a Co-PI of an interdisciplinary, international research project examining water insecurity and women’s health in Peru and Indonesia (funded by the British Academy) and a new project documenting youth perspectives on climate change in the Peruvian Andes, Amazon, and coast (funded by Plan International).
Most broadly, I maintain relationships with a range of stakeholders interested in promoting environmental and social justice in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Current Research Projects
1. The British Academy, Knowledge Frontiers Program: "Water Insecurity and Gender-Based Violence: Exploring Links and Steps for Prevention in Indonesian and Peruvian Women" (2020-2023).
Collaborators: University of Westminster; Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú; Padjadjaran University; Oxfam International; SOPAN, Indonesia; PRISMA, Peru.
2. Plan International Grant: "Youth Leadership on Climate Change: Photovoice Perspectives across the Peruvian Andes, Amazon, and Coast"
Collaborators: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú - El Instituto de la Naturaleza, Tierra y Energía, Plan International.
3. National Science Foundation - HWISE-RCN Collaborator Accelerator Award: “Large-Scale Infrastructure Projects and Household Water Insecurity in the Amazon: Corporate Responsibility is Crucial for Indigenous Health and Livelihoods"
Collaborators: Florida International Tropical Rivers Laboratory; Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Wenner-Gren Engaged Anthropology Program: “Vulnerability & Health Outcomes in Amazonia: An Innovative Conference Engaging Peruvian Scholars, Policy-Makers, & Indigenous Community Members” (2016)
Participants: Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Tulane University; USAID (United States Agency for International Development); UNDP (United Nations Development Program); CARE (Central Ashaninka del Rio Ene); SERNANP (Servicio Nacional de Áreas Protegidas por el Estado); DAR (Derechos, Ambiente, y Recursos Naturales; WCS - Perú (Wildlife Conservation Society); IBC (Instituto del Bien Común); Earth Rights International; Remando Juntos; Conservamos por Naturaleza; Radio Ucamara; Peru Equidad; ORAU (Organización Regional Indigena Aidesep Ucayali); COMARU (Consejo Machiguenga del Río Urubamba) http://blog.wennergren.org/2017/02/
International Union for the Conservation of Nature Annual Conservation Congress: "Evaluating Healthy Nature for Human Health and Wellbeing: Connecting Science, Practice, and Policy" (2016)
Participants and Partners: The Nature Conservancy; Canadian Parks Council; Finland Parks and Wildlife; Parks Canada; Office of Environment and Heritage NSW (Australia); Department of Environment Land Water and Planning Victoria (Australia); Korean National Park Service
Province of Amazonas, Peru. 2014.
Everything is Normal Now: Lifestyle Changes in Awajún Territory
Filmed in 2014 the community of Shushug in the Peruvian Amazon, biological anthropologist Paula Skye Tallman, film studies major Lisette Alonso, and biology major Julie Bloom shed light on how lives have changed in Awajún territory.
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