Alan F. Schultz, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor
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Research in Progress

My research incorporates approaches from cultural and biological anthropology as well as public health and epidemiology. The central question I try to address in my work is why chronic stress tracks along the fault lines of social inequity among rapidly globalizing populations and the role of culture in this phenomenon. In particular, I use ethnographic, semi-structured and quantitative methods to investigate these questions from a cognitive anthropological perspective. Ancillary aims of my work include, 1) the incorporation of culture and meaning into survey research, 2) improving the commensurability of social and cultural determinants of health across research studies and 3) advancing our understanding of the sociocultural sources and underlying biological mechanisms driving unresolved chronic stress in human populations. Other interests include stress biomarker measurement, integrative and cross-disciplinary research, political economy and Latin America. I conduct my research in Bolivian Amazonia and am currently analyzing results of a Young Investigator’s Development Program grant (2016–2017) funded by Baylor University. For this project, my colleagues and I collected data on health and life priorities among members of the Mojeño indigenous group near San Ignacio de Moxos, Beni Department. The work is part of a larger effort to establish and test a Cultural Visibility Index among non-industrialized populations. Finally, I am actively working to publish several papers on the results of past work investigating chronic stress and health among the Tsimane’ of lowland Bolivia.

Degrees

PhD in Anthropology, University of Florida

MPH in Epidemiology, University of Iowa

Teaching

I consider my teaching role as made-up of two parts, 1) facilitator of learning and 2) exemplar of learning. This means that I spend a significant amount of class time involving students in almost all aspects of my teaching, from presentation and critique of literature to instruction on best practices for studying, researching, writing and transmitting new information. My ultimate goal is to foster the development of systematic analytical thinking skills among my students accompanied by a base of knowledge on anthropology and health.

An underlying theme throughout my courses is an emphasis on anthropology’s wide applicability to aspects of health, disease and life. I engage students on this theme through activities such as formal in-class debates, real-time surveys and independent projects and presentations on past and current social problems. I aim to help every student experience how anthropological theory and methods can be used to improve theirs and others’ understanding of the world.

My approach in the classroom is similar to my work as an ethnographer. I engage and promote the exchange of ideas while providing space for students to learn in their own way because no two students or learning contexts—just as no two ethnographic informants or field sites—are the same. I expect that each semester and each classroom will present unique challenges and advantages and, when necessary, try to pivot my teaching and activities to make the most of class strengths and weaknesses.

Recent Publications

McDermott, Josh H., Alan F. Schultz, Eduardo A. Undurraga, and Ricardo A. Godoy 2016. Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians reveals cultural variation in music perception. Nature 535(7613):547–550.

Leonard, William R., Victoria Reyes-García, Susan G.Tanner, Asher Rosinger, Alan F. Schultz, Tomás Huanca, Vincent Vadez, Becky Zhang, and Ricardo Godoy. 2015. The Tsimane’ Amazonian Panel Study (TAPS): Nine years (2002-2010) of annual data available to the public. Economics and Human Biology 1:51-61.

Gravlee, Clarence C., P. Qasimah Boston, M. Miaisha Mitchell, Alan F. Schultz, Connie Betterley 2014. Food store owners’ and managers’ perspectives on the food environment: An exploratory mixed-methods study. BMC Public Health 14:1031.

Undurraga, Eduardo A., Jere R. Behrman, Elena L. Grigorenko, Alan F. Schultz, Julie Yiu, TAPS Bolivia Study Team, and Ricardo A. Godoy. 2013. Math skills and market and non-market outcomes: Evidence from an Amazonian society of foraging farmers. Economics of Education Review 37:138-147.

Xia, Qiang, Janice L. Westenhouse, Alan F. Schultz, Atsuko Nonoyama, William Elms, Nancy Wu, Lisette Tabshouri, Juan D. Ruiz, and Jennifer M. Flood. 2011. Matching AIDS and Tuberculosis registry data to identify AIDS/Tuberculosis co-morbidity cases in California. Health Informatics Journal 17(1):41-50.