I am a sociologist with teaching and research interests in the areas of science, medicine and biotechnology; history and social studies of race and gender; science policy, public health, and critical social theory.
I am currently completing a book, People's Science: reconstituting bodies and rights on the stem cell frontier, which examines ethnoracial, gender, class, and disability politics as a constitutive feature of stem cell research. Drawing upon multi-sited fieldwork in California’s stem cell agency, biotech industry conferences, legal hearings, civic events, a stem cell transplant facility, and a sickle cell clinic, I analyze the ways in which social identity and group interests co-produce this emerging science. A forthcoming paper, "Organized Ambivalence: When Sickle Cell Disease and Stem Cell Research Converge (Ethnicity & Health, Oct 2011), examines the ethnoracial dimensions of stem cell experimentation.
In a second project I am studying the geneticization of race and nationality in three countries (India, Mexico, and South Africa) that are mapping and marketing the genetic diversity of their populations. I am especially interested in the commercial forces that are driving the creation of ‘ethnic drug markets’; contestations about the relationship between genes, disease, and environment; and the dynamic interplay between group origin stories and genetic code. A series of forthcoming papers explore these themes.
In the first of these papers entitled ”A Lab of Their Own: Genomic Sovereignty as Postcolonial Science Policy” (Policy & Society, Fall 2009), I argue that research and government elites are strategically calibrating socio-political categories such as race and nationality with scientifically-produced groupings in order to biologically brand their populations. They do so within a sovereignty framework in order to maximize their gate-keeping position vis-à-vis emerging pharmaceutical markets. In seeking to empower the nation, however, scientific elites biologically reinscribe ethnoracial classifications, lending scientific legitimacy to existing social hierarchies.