Princeton-Brazil Research

Princeton-Brazil: Global Health Research

Faculty & Student Collaborations

packets of research materials on table

As a middle-income country that is highly influential in the global health sphere and closely watched in the health policy arena, Brazil offers a diversity of pathways for academic inquiry. 

Princeton-USP research brings together student and faculty collaborators across departments and generations to study global health, health policy and the anthropology of medicine and health.

Diverse Pathways for Inquiry


Princeton-USP puts the spotlight on health policy in an international context. As such, it provides a range of pedagogical benefits to students and the University as a whole, while internationalizing the Princeton experience in the context of a rich institutional partnership.

Recent projects have explored:

  • Health and the environment
  • North-South-South partnerships in global health and development
  • Religion and medicine
  • Crack epidemic and harm reduction
  • Processed meat and nutrition politics
  • Comprehensive care in public health
  • Rehumanizing birth-giving practices
  • Transgender health
  • Health and transportation infrastructure
  • How insecticide treated bed-nets change malaria vector patterns
  • Brazil-Mozambique public health diplomacy
  • The Rockefeller foundation’s role in 20th century medical education at USP
  • Health and community identity among Bolivian migrants in São Paulo
  • Drug consumption, identity-making, and the new middle class

Student Research


Safraz Hamid ’17
Molecular Biology, Certificate in Global Health and Health Policy

Safraz worked with Professors Deisy Ventura and Ricardo Jose Ayres at the School of Public Health and Department of Preventative Medicine at USP, assessing how accessible health care services are for Bolivian and Haitian migrants living in Sao Paulo. His interest is in determining how language, legal, and cultural barriers may impede their access of quality health care in a country often lauded for its indiscriminate, universal health care policies.

Emily Chen ’17
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Certificate in German Language and Culture

Emily studied environment-health linkages in São Paulo, Brazil by building a location-based dataset of environmental issues (ie pollution sources, waste treatment plants) and health outcomes (ie birth weights, asthma cases). She used a mix of existing datasets, as well as information from her research and observations in order to build the map using a geographic information system (GIS) program. 

Monica Magalhaes ’17
Psychology, Certificate in Global Health and Health Policy; Gender and Sexuality Studies

Monica conducted an ethnographic exploration of mental health care in São Paulo, Brazil.


Mizzi Gomes '16
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Certificate in Global Health and Health Policy

Mizzi studied immunological implications of Caesarean sections in São Paulo, which culminated in her thesis: The Immunological Effects of Caesarean Sections on Newborns in São Paulo, Brazil

Kourtney Pony '16
Comparative Literature, Certificate in Global Health and Health Policy

Kourtney focused her research on Lupus patient narratives and produced the thesis Complicating the Narrative: Viewing Medicine through a Literary Lens in Brazilian Lupus Patient Testimonies.

Melody Qiu '16
Woodrow Wilson School, Certificate in Global Health and Health Policy

Melody investigated the overuse of cesarean section delivery, and her thesis on this topic was entitled To Push or To Cut? Decision-Making in Childbirth Amid the Brazilian Cesarean Epidemic.

Kessie Alexandre GS –Anthropology
Kessie Alexandre is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Public Health Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include water supply and sanitation networks, disease prevention and management, social policy and risk formulations. In the past, she has conducted fieldwork in northwestern Haiti on these issues as they are framed around the current cholera epidemic. She has also conducted projects around non-communicable diseases, disaster risk management and grassroots development, both domestically and internationally. In the upcoming summer, Kessie will examine Haitian migration to Brazil since the 2010 earthquake. She is interested in questions of displacement and mobility, South-South migration, labor, health care and social integration.

Vinicius Furuie GS – Anthropology
Vinicius Furuie is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology currently interested in development, social movements, indigeneity and urbanization in the Brazilian Amazon. He is planning to spend time in cities such as Altamira and Santarém this summer to interview political leaders and immigrants who are new to this area.

Alecia McGregor, Postdoctoral Research Associate – Center For Health and Wellbeing, WWS
Alecia’s research interests include the role of religion, social movements and institutions in health care politics, and some of her past work has focused on HIV/AIDS, health inequalities, health system financing and mental health policy. Her doctoral dissertation analyzed the politics of health care provision in both the United States and Brazil. Her summer research will investigate race, politics and drug treatment policies in Brazil. 

Lindsay Ofrias GS – Anthropology
Lindsay is a graduate student of anthropology interested in medical anthropology, the anthropology of law and the anthropology of Latin America. She has conducted a number of ethnographic investigations in the United States and Ecuador focused on debates about toxicity, liability and human rights in relation to oil and gas contamination. This summer, she plans to follow the ongoing, momentous lawsuit between Chevron Corporation and plaintiffs representing more than 30,000 Amazonian residents as actions are taken out in Ecuador and Brazil. Through a multi-sited approach, Ms. Ofrias intends to explore how ideas about toxicity are mediated through biomedical and legal apparatuses and the extent to which lived experiences of contamination are therein reflected or transfigured.


Aleka Gurel ’15
History of Science, Certificates in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Brazilian Studies

Aleka’s thesis research focused on the involvement of the Rockefeller Foundation in medical and nursing schools of what would later become USP during the first half of the 20th century, examining the ways in which the interests of RF officials and Brazilian professors aligned and conflicted. Her research draws on sources from the archives of the Museu Histórico Prof. Carlos Da Silva Lacaz at the Faculdade de Medicina at USP; FIOCRUZ in Rio de Janeiro, and the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

Alexandra Junn ’15
Woodrow Wilson School, Certificate in Global Health and Health Policy

Alexandra’s thesis research focused on Brazil’s crack policies, specifically looking at the way politics influenced how treatment is structured in São Paulo’s Cracolândia. Her thesis was entitled OPEN ARMS, CLOSED FISTS: An Ethnographic Analysis of Crack Treatment Programs in São Paulo, Brazil.

Rachel Parks '15
Anthropology, Certificates in Spanish Language and Culture, Global Health and Health Policy

Rachel bridged her interests in medical anthropology and the formation of community identity to conduct senior thesis fieldwork on Bolivian migrants living in São Paulo, concluding with the thesis Bolivians in Brazil: The Interface of Culture, Race, and Health in an Immigrant Community of Sao Paulo.

Shayla Reid '15
Spanish and Portuguese Language and Cultures, Certificates in Global Health and Health Policy, Latin American Studies

Shayla’s research interests include women’s health, reproductive health, caesarean sections, medicalization, childbirth, the anthropology of birth, and activism related to parto humanizado (humanized birth). Her fieldwork involved ethnographic work focused on the parto humanizado movement in Brazil and led to her thesis entitled Mulher como Protagonista: Women’s Experiences with Parto Humanizado in São Paulo, Brazil.


Farrah Bui '14
Woodrow Wilson School, Certificates in Global Health and Health Policy, Environmental Studies, Pre-med

Thesis Title: The Rebirth of Maternal Health: Strengthening Midwifery Programs to Reduce the Prevalence of Caesarean Sections in Brazil Download thesis abstract.

Farrah’s work explored maternal health and health policy in Brazil. Although changes in the organization of the Brazilian health system have enabled greater access to care, the country continues to face major challenges in reducing unfavorable childbirth practices—particularly Caesaean Sections. While the profession of midwifery has received legal recognition, the practice garners little acceptance and offers limited career opportunities within Brazilian medical culture.

Benjamin Fogarty GS

Benjamin’s dissertation research focuses on drug consumption and identity-making practices of urban youths who recently ascended to the new middle class in Rio de Janeiro. His project examines the social and political effects of drugs (and their perceived risk), and asks how middle class identity and consumption patterns are being remade through educational interventions and discourses on risk. I aim to explore how new middle class “future of Brazil” youth, articulate their understandings of drugs, “middle classness” and citizenship in relation to drug prevention and discourses on risk, against the backdrop of the ascent of 40 million citizens into Brazil’s new middle class, intergenerational change and the prohibitionist policies of the “War on Drugs.” He has continued to be interested in photographic visual work from earlier research on Christian drug rehabilitation in Guatemala and crack harm reduction in Brazil.

Minerva Pedroza '14
Anthropology, Certificates in Latin American Studies, Portuguese

Thesis Title: Lives in Transition: Navigating Trans Healthcare in São Paulo, Brazil

Kenneth Maxwell Senior Thesis Prize in Brazilian and Portuguese Studies

Minerva’s research centered on public healthcare in Brazil, transgender rights, transgender healthcare, and the intersection of medicine and law. During her summer in São Paulo, she interviewed patients and professionals and attended group discussions/group therapy sessions at a public health clinic that provided integrated and multidisciplinary services to transgender individuals over the course of nine weeks.

Sloan Rudberg '14
Woodrow Wilson School, Certificates in Latin American Studies, Portuguese Language and Culture

Thesis Title: Mind the Gap in São Paulo: An Analysis of Airport Access and Integrated Transportation in Brazil’s Federal Infrastructure Policies

Sloan’s research addressed transportation policy, with a focus on how new policy and public-private partnership affects the integration of the aviation value chain and terrestrial/urban transit networks. His fieldwork included engagement with executive policymakers, regulators, and operators of the key airports, airlines, infrastructure firms, rail networks, bus companies, and local and federal governments. 

Akshata Shirahati '14
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Thesis Title: Emerging Daytime Biting Mosquitos: Modeling the Impact of Changing Malaria Vector Patterns on the Efficacy of Insecticide-Treated Nets

In her thesis, Akshata employed a series of systems dynamics models to evaluate how daytime biting mosquitoes could influence malaria epidemiology when insecticide-treated nets, a key interventional mechanism, have reduced efficacy in disease prevention.

Peter Smith '14
Sociology, Certificates in Latin American Studies, Portuguese

Thesis Title: Where’s the Beef? Cultural and Socioeconomic Determinants of Meat Consumption in Brazil

Peter’s research in São Paulo focused on meat consumption and production in Brazil, and its implications for public health and the environment. He conducted interviews with consumers in São Paulo, as well as a variety of stakeholders representing government, civil society, and the livestock industry.

Serena Stein GS
Anthropology, Graduate Certificate in Health Policy

Serena’s research sits at the intersection of international development, agribusiness, and non-communicable disease, currently in Brazil and Mozambique. In her dissertation, she examines practices and policies of Brazilian plant scientists and health experts working in southeastern Africa as part of emerging South-South partnerships in food and nutrition security. She is interested in the global diffusion of soybean cultivation and the role of this crop in the making of food aid nutrition products, smallholder farmer enterprises, and in large-scale projects for 'climate-smart' food systems

Naomi Zucker '14
Anthropology, Certificate in Global Health and Health Policy

Thesis Title: Visions of Health and Care in São, Paulo, Brazil Download thesis abstract.

University Center for Human Values Senior Thesis Prize, Global Health and Health Policy Senior Thesis Prize, Kenneth Maxwell Senior Thesis Prize in Brazilian and Portuguese Studies, Senior Thesis Prize in Anthropology

Naomi’s thesis research focused on imaginaries and practices of primary care in Brazil’s universal healthcare system, through an in-depth ethnographic study of a single public heath post run by the University of São Paulo’s department of Preventive Medicine.

Joao Biehl

Program Director

João Biehl 
Professor of Anthropology

Project Administrator & Contact
Email: Lindsay Woodrick

For Students

Princeton Brazil Global Fellows
Undergraduate research support
Graduate research funding