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Student Research: Where health science meets the human spirit

Apr 13, 2022
5 min Read
Blake Ursch
Aidan Herrera

For Aidan Herrera, being a doctor means more than donning a white coat. “I want to understand medicine in its cultural and social context,” says Herrera, a medical anthropology major in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“What does health care look like in different societies? How does our current system produce inequalities between different social groups? And how can health care providers treat patients in a way that takes those social factors into account?”

His interest in the intersection of the medical and social sciences led him to the lab of Erin Blankenship-Sefczek, PhD, resident assistant professor of biological anthropology. There, Herrera studies the bones of people who died during the Late Classic Maya Period, between 200 and 950 AD.


His project is centered on infants and sub-adults, taking a close look at how age and sickness affected how the individuals were buried, and drawing conclusions on what those burials tell us about the Mayan culture of the time.

Herrera says he hopes to continue his research over the summer, eventually publishing a paper on his findings. A soon-to-be graduate of the Class of 2023, Herrera plans to attend medical school and become a physician anthropologist.

His goal, he says, is to enter residency education and teach doctors how to approach medicine through a public health lens. It’s a path he says he may have never known about had he not chosen to become a Bluejay.

“I’m so grateful to Creighton for showing me that this path exists,” he says. “When I graduate, I know I’ll leave with a more complete understanding of health care and the issues facing it today. Because of my experience here, I feel called to do what I can to help however I can.”