Current Medical Anthropology Students

General Information

Program Director:

Alexander Roedlach, SVD, Ph.D.
Phone: 402.280.2567

Medical Anthropology Graduate Students

Creighton's graduate students meeting renowned authors in medical anthropology at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Vancouver, March 2016. The photo on the right shows Mooka Sitali-Maboshe with Dr. Elisa Sobo, the current President of the Society for Medical Anthropology. The photo on the left shows Mooka Sitali-Maboshe and Stephanie Kohl with Dr. Merrill Singer, known for his groundbreaking work on syndemics. 

Temana Andalcio 

Scholarly Interests: public health, health equity, social determinants of health, community empowerment

Temana Andalcio is passionate about the empowerment of marginalized communities and the application of science and research to social justice initiatives. Her primary research interest is to address health inequities, with a special interest in work with Latin American and Caribbean populations, both within the United States and abroad. Living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, she is currently engaged in collaborative work with Northern Plains American Indian Nations, utilizing community-­based participatory research principles.  Through this work she has developed expertise and interest in research ethics, specifically human subjects protections in research and community protections in research.

Samuel Costanzo

Scholarly Interests: bioethics, clinical care and cultural norms, gender and sexuality

Sam's previous work in anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Missouri, St. Louis, examined political economy and shifting notions of manhood in Morocco. With his interest in exploring gender, sexuality and their intersections with medical anthropology, he hopes to pursue research into the normative value systems that inform and are shaped by bioethical standards for the clinical management of intersex conditions and disorders of sex development in the Muslim Middle East and North Africa.

Laura DeFino-Coscia

Scholarly Interests: cancer, mixed methods research, disease survivors, epidemiology, global health

Laura is a Certified Tumor Registrar working as an Oncology Data Analyst for the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry. She also does consulting for various projects. Medical anthropology theories and methods provide her with the skills necessary to study cancer treatment and survival from a culturally sensitive perspective, necessary for designing and implementing creatively tailored solutions to oncology challenges. She has three children and a sweet little brown dog, named Penny. In her free time she enjoys doing a variety of activities with her kids, aerial arts, playing the piano as well as the guitar and African drums, gardening, and cooking.

Graduate Students Stephanie Keeney-Parks and Andy Gleason at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Minneapolis in November 2016.


Yasmeen Esshaki

Scholarly Interests: Hookah's effects on the body and its cultural connotations, American food culture, culture shock and major health issues among Middle Eastern immigrants, Alzheimer

Yasmeen graduated from the University of San Diego with a B.A. in Anthropology. She was born and raised in San Diego and belongs to its thriving Chaldean community. As an undergraduate she had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy, and Cork, Ireland. Her time in Cork and Florence was spent taking courses in anthropology and art history, respectively. After graduation, she plans to pursue a medical education.

Marisa Finan-Goode

Scholarly Interests: cancer, Native American health, reproductive health and birthing

Marisa graduated with a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Biology from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. During her undergraduate studies she focused on disparate rates in cervical cancer among Native American populations as well as the cultural constructions of pain as they relate to labor and delivery experiences. She plans to integrate her studies in medical anthropology with an eventual Ph.D. in cancer biology research adding a holistic and community-based perspective to such research.

Cassia Hamilton

Research Interests: community health, healthcare in Appalachia, health improvement

Cassia recently graduated from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, with a B.S. in Biology. She also completed at the same institution the pre-medicine track. As a medical anthropology students, she hopes to explore health issues associated with rural health, preparing her for the study of medicine. Her long-term goal is to attend a school of Osteopathic Medicine and return to rural Appalachia to work in pediatrics.

Allie Waltz

Scholarly Interests: cultural issues in psychology and psychiatry, pharmaceutical dependency, homeopathic medicine

Allie graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in international politics. Her home is San Diego where she lives with her fiance and two dogs. She is currently teaching elementary school children and taking every opportunity to travel the world and see new cultures. Allie is very interested in experiencing and understanding the unfamiliar. She hopes to gain a better understanding of psychology and to focus on cultural values relevance for the practice of psychology and psychiatry. After graduating from Creighton University, she hopes to continue her education and obtain a Ph.D. H

Tom Lenz

Scholarly Interests:  Well-­being; employee health; community building; engagement

Tom has been at Creighton since 1988 and is a professor with a primary appointment in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. His educational background consists of a bachelor and master degrees in exercise science from Creighton and the University of Nebraska in Omaha, respectively. He completed the PharmD program at Creighton followed by a 2-year fellowship in cardiovascular research within Creighton's School of Medicine. His primary work responsibilities are to serve as the director of Creighton's Center for Health Promotion and Well-Being. He has 4 wonderful children ranging in age from 7-18, and an awesome wife, Nancy, who is a physical therapist. They love to do outdoor activities, run, and waterski.

Mooka  Maboshe-­Sitali

Scholarly Interests: nursing, global health, indigenous health, determinants of health, critical anthropology, Africa, chronic diseases

Mooka is a Zambian citizen and a Canadian permanent resident. She is a practicing Registered Nurse, with a Diploma from Lusaka, Zambia, and a BScN from Excelsior College, NY. She has lived/worked and still maintains active RN licenses in Zambia, Botswana, Michigan (USA) and British Columbia (Canada), which makes her a "global nurse". After graduating from Creighton, she plans to pursue a PhD in Global Health at a Canadian University, and to work on health issues in sub-Saharan Africa, and with North American Indigenous populations. Her husband and she are "school junkies," and lifelong learners. They love to travel, participate in their church, and meet lots of people.

Mason  McCain
Scholarly Interests: Market-­Based Health Systems, Rural Health, and Homelessness

Hailing from the small community of Wisner, Nebraska, Mason McCain split his upbringing between a love for the outdoors, taking up archery at the age of six, and his passion for learning. He went on to study Chemistry at Creighton University as his passion for learning was fueled by the liberal arts curriculum. Aspirations of medical school and a run in with Liberation Theology introduced him to the field of Medical Anthropology through the writings and actions of Paul Farmer. He hopes to use these influences to provide greater awareness and care to the underserved.

Carol Montgomery-­Taylor

David Orenstein

Scholarly Interests: medical ethics, vaccine denial, activism

Dr. David Orenstein is a full professor at Medgar Evers College (CUNY) and teaches anthropology. He is an international speaker on issues related to the free-thought movement, censorship and also human evolution. Dr. Orenstein hopes to attain his MA in Medical Anthropology to better understand the nature of human responses to disease and illness, focusing on a cross-cultural perspective. He also hopes to take what he learns into his classes to share with his students.

Kalie Tuquyen NguyenKalie Tuquyen Nguyen

Scholarly Interests: Bioculture, adaptation, disease, and norms

Kalie received her B.A. at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona majoring in Cultural Anthropology. She plans to increase her knowledge in the differences of social and medicinal practice in cultures around the world through a focus in Medical Anthropology. She enjoys traveling and exploring the world.  As a chapter founder and project director of Nourish International, she leads a group to Cameroon, Africa, to work alongside the Better Family Foundation to build water irrigation to bring clean water to local villages. The group will also facilitate workshops for local populations providing health care education in AIDS/HIV.

Kristienne McFarland

Melissa Page

Scholarly Interests: patient engagement, global health, perceptions of disease

Melissa received her B.S. at Northeastern University, majoring in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, she began working at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) focusing on end-of-life care. Upon graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and volunteered in Liberia. After her time in the Peace Corps, Melissa returned to IHI and is interested in learning how to combine the needs of populations to health care delivery.

Erin Riley

Scholarly Interests: sexual health education, contraceptive health education, women's empowerment in sexual health

Erin currently works at the University of Michigan as a project manager in transgender health and HIV research. Her research background includes work on MSM health (health of men-who-have-sex-with-men), HIV education and prevention, and emergency contraceptives in Latin America. In future, she plans to concentrate on sexual health practices of indigenous women in Central American and the education of women in sexual health practices.


Christine  Rice    

Scholarly Interests: Qualitative research, healing practices, wellness beliefs, public health culturally based communication and outreach

Christine Rice is a Blackfoot (Siksika) and was born and raised in California on the Tribal Rancheria, where she became familiar with a multitude of healing practices and definitions of health and disease. Growing up in California exposed her to many different worldviews and understandings of health and disease. She believes that it is vital to understand different views of health and disease in order to provide effective and positive public health services. After college, she became a social activist in the mid-1970s and continues to work on social justice, education and public health activism. 

Danica Rush

Scholarly Interests: Cultural context of memory loss

Danica is a registered nurse in Toronto, Canada. She explores the cultural context, patterns of relationships and significant meanings of health, wellness, illness and adaptation of older adults living with memory loss. Ethnography, relational inquiry, complexity theory, embodied selfhood and art-based research construct the framework which guides her research and nursing practice. This framework allows her to examine how the experience of living with memory loss is interwoven into to the complexity of a person who is in relation to the social, cultural and political context of the broader society in which they live.

Scott Sands

Scholarly Interests: patient advocacy, border health, health education

Scott is a Registered Nurse in the border town of Laredo, Texas. His bedside experience includes pediatrics, NICU, hospice, substance abuse and home health nursing, culminating in his own home care agency. As a Medical Anthropology student, he hopes to explore the culture of alcoholism. His long-term goals include teaching online and working towards a doctorate in Education.

Marissa Sjoblom

MaKenzie Soderling

Scholarly Interests: homelessness, veterans' health, rural health

MaKenzie is originally from a rural community in Eastern Montana, where she grew up on a dry land farm. She started her undergraduate education at Miles Community College, where she obtained her A.S. degree while playing intercollegiate basketball. She continued her education at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, earning her B.A. in Biology and Sociology. She conducted research on homeless persons' access to health care in Helena. She currently lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and works as a CNA at St. Patrick's Hospital. She plans to expand her skills and knowledge of health and health care for the underserved, and use such knowledge to better patients' health care experiences.

Michael Stec

Maree  Sugai       

Scholarly Interests: Suicide prevention, Empathy in practice, Sociolinguistics, Culture in health care practice, Mental health

Maree is a full time senior lecturer, faculty member and researcher at Tohoku University of Community Service and Science (KU) in Japan. She has been teaching in Japan for 26 years and has published and presented at social science, psychology and behavioral science conferences in America, Canada, and Japan. She is passionate about intercultural communication and interested in exploring acute social withdrawal/hikikomori. She has worked on the governing board of a mental health rehabilitation center in Japan for fourteen years; assisting in counseling for, and including, families who have lost members to suicide and for those who have suffered severe trauma, or are severely depressed or psychotic. She is also Vice Director of The International Center at Tohoku University of Community Service and Science in Sakata City, Yamagata, North Japan. She is in charge of exchange programs for International students interested in Japanese culture. She has two wonderful boys both in their twenties and 2 wonderful (and funny) cats.

The photo on the right shows Maree giving a paper at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Vancouver, March 2016. The topic of her paper was Hikikomori in Japan as a threat to public health.

Jazmin Turner

Scholarly Interests: human reproductive health, human growth and development, clinical medical anthropology, global health

Jazmin graduated from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln with a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Studies. After visiting Japan, she developed a strong interest in global health with a specific focus on human reproduction. Conducting research in this area and applying medical anthropology, she plans to to explore and address issues related to childbirth and stigma associated with it within the United States and around the globe.

Gretchen Walburn

Scholarly Interests: health impacts due to globalization, correlation between diet and disease, Mayan populations

Gretchen holds a BA in Anthropology from Ohio State University. Her undergraduate studies focused on biology, globalization, and Mayan cultures and societies. During her time traveling and living in Belize, Central America, she observed the impact of globalization on diet and health and became interested in exploring the correlation between globalization, society, culture and health, using a holistic approach. She want to conduct ethnographic and biometric research in Belize and to be part of educational health programs that aim at curbing the rise in diabetes, cancer and heart disease. She and her two children enjoy attending sporting events and traveling whenever they have free time.

Carleigh VanDetta-Smitherman

Scholarly Interests: Intellectual disabilities, day services, quality of life

Carleigh is originally from a town near Chicago and attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for her undergraduate studies, where she received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with an interdisciplinary minor in Human Aging, specifically looking at the effects of the aging process on human cognition.

During her studies, she also took part in a community-based project, Child Assault Prevention Education, educating classrooms in the local community ways to prevent childhood abuse while also learning the short-term and long-term effects of abuse on child development. Bringing together her love for working with children and her interest in human cognition, she is currently studying to be an occupational therapist at Creighton University. Her future goal is to develop a day program for young adults with severe developmental disabilities to provide the opportunity for continued growth to achieve an overall improved quality of life.

Sharon Elizabeth Waggoner-Rojas

Scholarly Interests: Chronic illness, religious communities, heritage preservation

Sharon has a background in cultural anthropology with a specialization in the royal houses of Europe, primarily in Great Britain, from the 9th to the 17th centuries. She eventually chose religion as her primary focus. Her previous work includes an ethnographic study of symbolism and non-verbal gestures among Benedictine nuns and novices. She is also a volunteer with the British National Trust at Barrington Court in Sommerton, England. During her graduate studies in medical anthropology she focuses on the effects of chronic conditions and diseases within isolated religious communities.

Erin Young

Scholarly Interests: global health, social determinants of health, epidemiology

Erin attended Brigham Young University, graduating with a B.A. in French Studies. She is currently teaching French at an elementary immersion school. She has been interested in medical anthropology since her family lived in Morocco, when she was a child. She was fascinated by the many cultural and societal factors that influence an individual's access to medical care. Her goal is to use medical anthropology in public health addressing health inequities for immigrant and refugee populations in the United States.