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The Serendipity of Studying Social Phenomena in a Pandemic

Project of Merit Winner!
Author: Maria Encinosa
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Anne Pfister


I analyze the potential for epigenetic research to operationalize the study of social determinants of the health and risk factors that underscore the racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes. I reflect on how conditions of the pandemic offer student researchers, like myself, new opportunities for re-thinking ethnographic methods as we plan and execute projects studying social phenomena.
Research Types: Undergraduate Research


Website 2

12 Responses

  1. Hi Maria,
    I very much enjoyed learning about your project. You did an excellent job explaining the underlying rationale regarding the association between social determinants of health and COVID-19 susceptibility. Interestingly, there is increasing evidence that workplace and residential pollutants are not only linked to respiratory disorders, but also linked to metabolic disorders. Your results can be visualized as an interconnected system. Another factor that is influential in determining outcomes of infection is healthcare access. For example, the mortality rates by subgroup presented in Figure 1 are likely to be at least partially affected by insurance coverage, which often determines access to appropriate care.
    Thank you for pursuing this important work!
    Dr. Stallings-Smith

  2. Fascinating research and conclusions, Maria. I was not very familiar with the epigenetic links to comorbidities. As Dr. Stallings-Smith noted, there is clearly an interconnected system. Your verbal discussion is very helpful too. Thanks so much for sharing your work. I hope the students in Self & Society look at your poster–it’s a great example for them.

  3. Besides being a really beautiful poster, you have unpacked a lot of information that is currently unfolding and explained it in a really clear way. I appreciated your video explanation that brought even more depth to your project. I particularly liked your use of graphics in explaining your theory and results.

  4. I agree with all the previous commenters. You’ve identified an incredibly important and timely topic and taken a creatively interdisciplinary approach. Great job!

  5. Very timely research and poster.This is a great presentation of how different groups of people are impacted by the pandemic and the underscoring reasons.

  6. Great job, Maria! You successfully unpack the complex intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing structural racism in this country. Epigenetics is such an important lens through which we can understand numerous problems facing communities of color. Wonderful presentation as well!

  7. Maria, this project is so well-conceived, constructed, and presented. The addition of your audio presentation, which is personable and easily understood by non-specialists, engages and enlightens us in myriad ways. Beautiful work. Thank you!

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