Sean Bruna, PhD. is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Western Washington University. His research uses collaborative mixed methods to examine the intersections of identity and community health. His current research includes testing interventions for Latinx or American Indians living with chronic disease, examination of disciplinary trends in anthropology, and documentation of risky fieldwork practices and mitigation strategies among URM students and scholars.
Dr. Bruna first became interested in the health and health policy of underrepresented peoples in high school when he wrote his Texas Senator about health care access and insurance for the growing Latinx population in the state. After completing his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, he explored community health practices in an international setting –the Amazonian region of Ecuador– and later focused his attention back on the U.S. – Mexico border. Returning to the United States for health research was not a difficult decision to make. While he enjoyed researching in the Amazon, he felt there were simply too many health issues in the United States that needed (and still need) attention.
As a Latinx scholar, Dr. Bruna dedicates efforts to creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for historically excluded students in his lab, with colleagues in his department, and for the university as a whole. The graduate students in Dr. Bruna’s lab frequently research applied topics, including diabetes education, urban farming policy, international water needs, the impact of supportive housing programs, or how individuals with disabilities cope during times of social isolation. Dr. Bruna actively teaches 6 to 8 courses a year, many of which are advanced methods or graduate-level courses, though his undergrad medical anthropology course is regularly in high demand.
Prior to working in academia, Dr. Bruna was the Program Coordinator for the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities at the University of Chicago, where he managed a $1.5M student affairs budget and developed the “Experience Chicago” program for students, faculty, staff and their families. While completing his first MA, Dr. Bruna worked as a paralegal and legal researcher for a Chicago-based law firm that litigated agricultural worker rights and class action lawsuits, then later staffed the University of Chicago’s first BIPOC peer mentoring program for graduate students.
Dr. Bruna received a MA and PhD. in Ethnology (Cultural Anthropology) from the University of New Mexico, and an MA in Social Science with a focus on Federal Indian Law from the University of Chicago, where he also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in both Anthropology & Latin American Studies. His research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.