Thinking Critically about Scientific Innovations + Medical Policy: A lecture, case study, and conversation.
How do advances in science affect maternal health policies and interventions? What effect do political and social factors have on the health of pregnant women and their babies? Medical anthropologist and science and technology scholar Natali Valdez, Ph.D., draws on her critical qualitative research and her recent book “Weighing the Future: Race, Science and Pregnancy Trials in the Postgenomic Era” for a talk focused on the relationship between emergent science and maternal health policy.
Join us in the Ingle Auditorium for an enlightening lecture by Dr. Valdez, Presidential Fellow, Yale University, and Assistant Professor, Purdue University. A response by Kristoffer Whitney, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts Department of Science, Technology, and Society, will open the question and answer session.
Immediately following the lecture, the conversation continues during the reception in the Fireside Lounge. Light refreshments will be served.
About Natali Valdez, Ph.D., and her research: Drawing on her recent book, Weighing the Future: Race, Science and Pregnancy Trials in the Postgenomic Era, Dr. Valdez’s talk will focus on the relationship between emergent science and maternal health policy. Epigenetic science, or the study of gene-environment interaction, has been heralded as one of the most promising new fields of scientific inquiry and has substantially changed understandings of inheritance in human reproduction. Yet, in her ethnographic examination of contemporary pregnancy trials and maternal health recommendations on obesity and diabetes, Dr.Valdez finds that current maternal health policies and interventions are similar to approaches employed in the 1950s.
Drawing on critical qualitative methods and ethnographic analyses, her talk will examine the studies, measurements, standards, interventions, and policies of maternal weight and nutrition to highlight how certain aspects of science and medicine change, and how other aspects remain fundamentally unaltered. A key implication of this research is that it helps us understand how particular social and political environments thwart scientific and medical innovations.
Valdez is a medical anthropologist and science and technology scholar who studies how race, gender, and power are enveloped into scientific knowledge production. She specializes in critical qualitative methods, and teaches interdisciplinary courses across Anthropology, Gender Studies, and Public Health.
Her book, Weighing the Future: Race, Science and Pregnancy Trials in the Postgenomic Era (University of California Press, 2022), is the first ethnography of pregnancy trials in the United States and United Kingdom. Her ongoing and future research projects explore systemic racism, reproductive health, Big Data, metabolic illness, and predictive medicine.
Valdez's research has been published in various journals, including Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Science Technology and Human Values, Feminist Anthropology, and BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. To support her research, Valdez has received a variety of external grants including the NSF, Wenner-Gren, and AAUW.
About the Respondent: Kristoffer Whitney is an Associate Professor in the Science, Technology, & Society Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds a PhD in the History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. His multidisciplinary work operates at the intersections of the environmental humanities and science studies, and has appeared in journals such as Environmental Humanities, Science, Technology, and Human Values, and Sociology of Health & Illness. He is a past winner of the David Edge Prize for the best article in the area of science and technology studies (STS) by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), and his current project on the biomedical use of horseshoe crabs has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
An interpreter will be present during this event.
When and Where
Open to the Public