The University of Iowa

Stanley Undergraduate Awards: 2020

Nicole Hobson
Global Health Studies, Biomedical Sciences
Destination: Myuna, Ecuador
Project Title: Effects of an Evolving Diet on the Health and Culture of Indigenous Ecuadorian Kichwa

I am seeking a Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research for June 29 - August 14, 2020 to study if/how recent changes towards a more western diet in the indigenous Kichwa of central Ecuador has affected their health and culture. My project will involve interviews, surveys, and blood pressure measurements, and will be centered in the Muyuna Health Center in Muyuna, Ecuador. This study is significant because it examines the intersection between changing diet patterns, rapid cultural shifts, and epidemiological health in a historically understudied population. The information collected will be used to understand an alarming trend of increasing hypertension and diabetes diagnoses. I chose this location due to having previously interned in the clinic in Summer 2019 for two months through the Cmiel Scholarship from the University of Iowa Human Rights Center to look at access to health care. As a junior double majoring in Global Health Studies and Biomedical Sciences, this research will benefit my studies as it will be the topic of my Global Health Studies honors thesis and the basis for a future Fulbright research application.

Charlotte Lenkaitis
Global Health Studies, Spanish
Destination: Santiago, Chile
Project Title: Front-of-package warning labels: exploring knowledge, perceptions and behaviors about food and nutrition among mothers in Santiago, Chile

I am seeking a Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research to determine the effectiveness of front-of-package food labeling in Santiago, Chile, from June 1 – July 13, 2020. In response to high rates of obesity and diet-related health issues, the Chilean government passed a law in 2012 to regulate food labeling and advertising which included the implementation of front-of-package warning labels. Processed foods and beverages high in energy, sugars, saturated fats and sodium are now required to be marked with front-of-package warning labels with the aim of dissuading consumers from purchasing such items. Currently, no research has been conducted to evaluate responses to the regulation after the final stage of implementation in 2019. This research seeks to understand and evaluate mothers’ knowledge and perceptions of front-of-package warning labels and if such labels influence food purchasing behavior. A comparative case study of El Bosque and Providencia, two neighborhoods in Santiago, will be used to investigate this relationship. Research methods include semi-structured interviews, food sorting activities, and participant observation in grocery stores. Findings from this research can be used to inform and influence future nutrition policy changes in Chile and in other countries.

Lesley McNaughton
Medical Anthropology and Global Health
Destination: Saragur, Karnataka, India
Project Title: A Qualitative Study of Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies of women in Karnataka, India

I am seeking a Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research to study the women’s adaptation strategies to the effects of climate change in Karnataka, India from May 18th to July 11th, 2020. Climate change is expected to adversely impact vulnerable populations in tropical regions of the Global South. More importantly, the effects of climate change are unevenly distributed, where women are impacted more than men. Gendered experiences of climate change in southern India are particularly acute and put women in positions that affect their abilities to cope. Women are often responsible for subsistence and care activities that tie them to the environment such as collecting water and fuelwood in addition to tending to crops and livestock. Additionally, women hold important traditional knowledge of sustainability practices passed down for generations, therefore it is imperative that we examine how women are adapting to the effects of climate change. This project will utilize ethnographic methodology through semi-structured interviews and participant observation in order to document the lived experiences of rural agrarian women living in Saragur, Karnataka in India. I will be working in collaboration with the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) to find participants for my research. Women who fit this criterion are those who are doing one or more of the following; collecting water, growing crops, collecting firewood or caring for livestock. The purpose of this research is to describe what rural agrarian women identify as current problems and to gain an understanding of effective adaptation strategies that women are employing during their daily lives. 

Samalya Thenuwara
Human Physiology
Destination: Colombo & Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Project Title: Past Experiences and Activities of Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology 

Chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu), has remained an epidemiological mystery for researchers for over two decades in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is a tremendous burden to individuals and the healthcare system. A gap in the current research are studies exploring patient’s experiences and activities prior to the appearance of the disease. This study proposes travelling to Sri Lanka in the summer of 2020 to conduct audio-recorded, face-to-face interviews with ten respondents. Hour-long interviews would take place in patients’ respective homes with an offer of monetary compensation. Finding patterns of lives of even a few CKDu patients may contribute to the growing body of research to be used to identify CKDu risk-factors.