Current Research

Surviving Fieldwork: Mixed Methods Evaluation of Global Fieldwork Safety Issues Among Field Research Researchers

Sean Bruna, PhD., Emilio Bruna, PhD. (University of Florida) and Heather Fullerton (College of Charleston). In 1990 the American Anthropological Association published “Surviving Fieldwork: a report of the Advisory Panel on Health and Safety on Fieldwork, American Anthropological Association.” The risks addressed in this survey covered a variety of topics ranging from assault, tapeworms, and AIDS. This research, under development, updates and enhances the original survey to address global fieldsites, adds qualitative components, and disentangles how gender and ethnicity impact safety training. Funded by$10,180.20 WWU Internal grant; Currently drafting major National Institutes of Health grant for submission this summer.


Social Network Analysis of Informal Mentoring Among Underrepresented Students and Faculty at Western Washington University

Sean Bruna, PhD. PI, Galen Herz, Undergraduate PI. While undergraduate mentoring programs are now commonplace on university campuses, research regarding mentorship programs has not kept pace (Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Gershenfeld, 2014). Among undergraduate mentoring programs nationally, there is a general assumption that individuals in the social sciences are more adept at discussing diversity issues, and that underrepresented faculty are highly sought out by underrepresented students in need of mentoring. However, without research into the issue, this practice is generally not understood, or worse, misunderstood. As such, this research seeks to understand which WWU faculty and staff are sought-out by underrepresented students for informal mentoring and why they choose certain faculty over others.


Gender of Staff and Editorial Boards of Anthropology Journals

Sean Bruna, Heather Fullerton, Giselle Kiraly, Emilio Bruna. As part of the Gatekeeper Project, this research examines the changing gender of editorial boards and staff of ten leading anthropology journals over the last 40 years.  We completed the pilot project (manuscript submitted) and are now preparing a large research to examine all AAA journals.


Gendered Leadership in the Society for Medical Anthropology

Sean Bruna, Nayantara Sheoran (Postdoctoral Fellow, The Graduate Institute, Geneva). This mixed methods research examines gendered leadership participation globally within the Society for Medical Anthropology.



Mobile Applications For Field Research: Evaluation and Development of Online Resource

Sean Bruna, PhD and Emilio Bruna, PhD. (University of Florida). In this project, students research and test mobile applications for field research and are developing a website/catalog of the applications (draft site).

Previous Research

Walkability Assessment: A CBPR Study With the City of Edmonds, WA (2017)

This community-based participatory research study with the City of Edmonds assess the walkability within a region adjacent to downtown, while also examining local walking practices and perceptions of the place. Funding has been approved and we are currently in the research development stage with plans to conduct research in Spring 2017.

Evaluating Free Cultural Competence Training Programs for Health Professionals (2015)

With Brooke Jerspersen (WWU Graduate currently a PhD. Studentat Case Western Reserve University): Cultural competence is a multi-level strategy for ensuring culturally and linguistically appropriate medical care and reducing health disparities. Little is known, however, about how it is enacted across diverse health care settings. The purpose of this article is to evaluate cultural competence training programs currently utilized by health care institutions in the United States. The revised Tool for Assessing Cultural Competence Training (AAMC, n.d.; Lie et al., 2008) is used to evaluate two cultural competence curricula designed to train primary care providers: the first is an online course developed by the Office of Minority Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called “A Physician’s Practical Guide to Culturally Competent Care” (Think Cultural Health, n.d.); the second is an online presentation by Mount Rainier Health System entitled “Generational and Cultural Competency”. In evaluating these curricula, this article aims to extend analyses of culturally competent medicine beyond theoretically-oriented discussions of what cultural competence should or should not be, and toward comprehensive assessments of cultural competence in practice. As the evaluations indicate, these two training programs vary greatly in their congruence with the revised TACCT, thereby underscoring the importance of studying how cultural competence is enacted within the health care system and of utilizing tools that facilitate comparison in order to identify the most effective training programs.

“Sowing Seeds for the Future to Honor Tigua History and Tradition”: Diabetes Prevention Practices at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (2013)

Discussing the community garden at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. From Left: Sean Bruna, Cuco, and Deloris.Discussing the community garden at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. From Left: Sean Bruna, Cuco, and Deloris.
This dissertation research, funded by the CDC, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Mellon Foundation, was a community- based participatory research study of type II diabetes prevention practices at a Federally Recognized Tribe. In dialogue with both public health and anthropology, the study critiques translational health theories and examines a community health center and the broader tribal community it serves. Topics explored include a detailed political economic history and the impact on present day diabetes prevention efforts, structural challenges hindering individual oriented biomedical prevention practices in a health center, communal “emergent” religious/spiritual prevention practices, and generationally defined wellness trends.

“Who I Am”: Native Pride and Tigua Identity, A Youth Photo Voice Project (2013-2014)

Funded by the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies at the University of New Mexico, this CBPR project is in partnership with the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Youth After-School Program and the Community Health Center.  In this project youth learn photography skills, explore and express their identity through photography, and host an art opening.  Selected photos will be professionally printed and framed for display in the Community Health Center.

Corazón por la Vida: Comparative Effectiveness Research for Eliminating Disparities (2010-2012)

I served as a research scientist and ethnographer on the National Institutes of Health funded project, “Corazón por la Vida: Comparative Effectiveness Research for Eliminating Disparities,” a large interdisciplinary study which examined the cost effectiveness of a promotora (community health worker) led hypertension management program for Latinos in rural New Mexico (National Institutes of Health, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Grant #3P20MD004996-01S1). I also assisted with a sub-award partnership between the Prevention Institute, Hidalgo Medical Services, and the Hidalgo County Health Consortium which examined upstream health policy issues in Hidalgo County, NM.  Manuscripts are under review. Click here to view a poster on the Social factors affecting Latino’s management of hypertension.

Health Care Reform and the U.S.-México Border: Challenges and Opportunities (2009)

This paper is White Paper for the U.S. – Mexico Border Health Association.  I provided research and writing assistance.

MA Thesis (University of Chicago): Issues of Tigua Recognition: Negotiating Legal and Ethnic Identity on the U.S. – Mexico Border (2002)

Abstract: This thesis examines one example of the growing trend in which U.S. states challenge the sovereign power and rights of federally recognized tribes. Threats to tribal sovereignty have taken place throughout Indian country officially since the 1950s “Termination Era” politics and there is a growing concern that tribes must again prepare for a new period of renewed threats. This research considers this trend by examining the path of Tigua federal recognition and the various ways ethnic and legal identity each play a part in the formation of Indian identity.  I propose that the interactions between the U.S. legal system and the Tigua have resulted in the formation of two different notions of Tigua identity.