B.A., Anthropology, Biology, Lawrence University, 1998
M.A., Cultural Anthropology, University of Florida, 2001
Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, University of Illinois-Chicago, 2006
Professor Smith-Oka is a cultural and medical anthropologist who specializes on the effect of institutions (medical, economic, development) on the behavior and choices of marginalized populations, especially women. She has explored the impact of an economic development program on the reproductive lives and motherhood of indigenous women in eastern Mexico. From this research emerged her book, Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico (Vanderbilt, 2013). She also researched the doctor-patient relationship in a maternity ward in the city of Puebla, particularly the role of space/place, notions of social and medical risk, and quality of care. She is currently developing a collaborative and interdisciplinary project to explore the effect of social networks on the loss of empathy among medical students.