Current graduate research is examining:

  • Sustainable Agriculture Policy in Whatcom County, WA
  • Protective Factors for Covid-19 Utilized by Disabled Peoples During Extended Periods of Social Isolation
  • U.S. Surrogacy Practices
  • To learn more about this research that is led by current and previous graduate students, please visit the Lab Members page.  

The Following is current research conducted in my lab group. For a full list of research, including other collaborative projects, please view my curriculum vitae.

HIV Risk among Trafficked Women: A Systematic Review of the Global Literature. Drs. Yeon Jung Yu and Sean Bruna  This research examines global literature concerning HIV/STI risk among trafficked female sex workers (FSWs) in relation to sex trafficking and drug. Part of a larger sequence of research, this research is in the early literature review and preliminary field research stage.  manuscript currently in revise and resubmit 

Recreational Drug Use among Western Washington University (WWU) students. Drs. Yeon Jung Yu and Sean Bruna  This research project investigates recreational drug use (e.g., cannabis, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, prescriptions, and various other soft drugs) and its effects on WWU students. Due to the variable legal status of cannabis, there is lack of social studies on the topic. We seek to remedy this by collecting data and gaining an understanding of the community culture of WWU drug users as well as the lived experiences of the WWU population of drug users. The data we intend to collect will provide information about the demographics, social networks and community culture of drug users, perceptions/stigmas around recreational drugs, effects on mental and physical health, and resources for drug users among our WWU students. A portion of this research is examining drug use during Covid-19 Social Isolation. Faculty Summer Research Grant, Western Washington University ($6,000).  in data collection

Corazón por la Vida: Comparative Effectiveness Research for Eliminating Disparities: This research is in ongoing. “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). Also 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.  3rd and 4th manuscript in review; 5th in preparation 

Informal Mentoring Among Underrepresented Students and Faculty at Western Washington University: Sean Bruna (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 faculty and staff are sought-out by underrepresented students for informal mentoring and why they choose certain faculty over others. manuscript in preparation 

Gender of Staff and Editorial Boards of Anthropology Journals:  “Women are underrepresented on the editorial boards of journals in anthropology: a 40 year analysis of ten anthropology journals”: Research is in progress. Led by Sean Bruna (PI) and in collaboration with 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, are in the final stages of manuscript preparation, and are now preparing a large grant to examine all American Anthropology Association Editorial Boards in greater detail.  in data collection

Teaching Medical Anthropology: Analysis of Medical Anthropology Syllabi in the U.S.: Manuscript under review. Sean Bruna (PI) with Tyler Stodola (WWU BA, 2017), the aim of this study is to understand the topics and content taught in U.S. medical anthropology courses, and to consider if courses address MCAT exam related content. Mini-Research Grant, Western Washington University ($600)  manuscript in review

Gendered Leadership in the Society for Medical Anthropology: “Is service work always ‘women’s work’?: Rewards and Regrets of Gendered Institutional Housekeeping”: Nayantara Sheoran (PI) (Postdoctoral Fellow, The Graduate Institute, Geneva), and Sean Bruna. This mixed methods research examines gendered leadership within the Society for Medical Anthropology. manuscript in revision

Research Under Development

Surviving Fieldwork: Mixed Methods Evaluation of Fieldwork Risk-taking, Safety, and Mitigation Strategies: Led by Sean Bruna (PI), in collaboration with Heather Fullerton (College of Charleston), and Emilio Bruna (University of Florida). 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, some of which include death, assault, tapeworms, and disease. This research updates and enhances the original survey to address global fieldsites, adds qualitative components, disentangles how academic level, gender and ethnicity impact risk/safety practices, and examines the content and quality of related institutional material/training. Currently (1) identifying trends in the literature and (2) drafting large grant for submission.  Support from 2017 NSF Summer Course on Grant Writing at the University of Florida & 2018 WWU Project Development Award ($10,180.20).

Is Ethnographic Evidence Public or Private? Opportunities and Challenges to Ethnographic Data Sharing Requirements with American Indian Tribes: Part 2:  As a second portion of this research, I am partnering with Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, TX, a tribe in west Texas to develop a living tribal archive and repository for research data. Though details are under embargo, we are examining the possibility of developing an archive where (1) historical and contemporary content may be actively engaged by community participants given various community-designated restrictions and (2) a repository for data collected by researchers that are (a) hired by the tribe, (b) partner with the tribe, or are (c) internal tribal researchers.  This project is in consultation.


Previous Research

The Case for Permanent Supportive Housing in Rural America: This research is under development. Sean Bruna (PI), Peter Miterko, MA/ Catholic Community Services, and Melina Juarez, PhD. A local organization is interested in expanding project-based permanent supportive housing (PSH) in Bellingham, WA, a small city in a rural county. PSH has been utilized as a means for managing homelessness in major cities nationwide, however, program effectiveness is not yet understood in our community. This community based project seeks to influence and strengthen local understandings and policies regarding PSH by examining (mis)perceptions the community has about housing the homeless. 

Is Ethnographic Evidence Public or Private? Opportunities and Challenges to Ethnographic Data Sharing Requirements with American Indian Tribes: Part 1: Sean Bruna (PI). “Is Ethnographic Evidence Public or Private? Opportunities and Challenges to Contemporary Data Sharing Requirements with American Indian Tribes,” in Organize This! Data Management for Anthropology. Jerome Crowder and Richard Freeman, eds.  Palgrave Publishers.

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.

“Sowing Seeds for the Future to Honor Tigua History and Tradition”: Diabetes Prevention Practices at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (University of New Mexico PhD. Thesis, 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.

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.

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