DISSERTATION: BLEEDING FOR PAY
Each year upwards of 1.5 million Americans donate their plasma at commercial plasma donation centers. Plasma protein companies then sell, exchange, and process plasma to manufacture life-saving pharmaceutical treatments that, like any other pharmaceutical product, are bought and sold in a global marketplace. This market, known as the plasma fractionation market, is valued at nearly 20 billion dollars, and expected to reach a worth of 29.50 billion by 2023.
Despite the overwhelming size of the market, sociologists have overlooked the plasma pharmaceutical marketplace, treating it as a footnote in studies of body marketplaces rather than a critical case to examine commodification, cultural frames, and embodiment. I use paid plasma donation as a site to address gaps in the literature about bodily commodification and embodied practices, as well as cultural framing of morality and worth. By examining this hidden-in-plain-sight marketplace, I examine how this market assigns value to different bodily goods and services, and how that process impacts the lived experiences of plasma donors.
GENETIC TESTING WOES
As part of my larger interest in cultural understandings of the body, I work with Penny Edgell and Kathleen Hull to analyze findings from their Talking About Social Controversies Project. As part of this project, 12 focus groups in metro areas around the United States were asked to debate when and how to regulate the genetic testing of embryos prior to implantation. Among the findings, we note how people discuss genetic testing as an evolving form of capital, as well as how genetic testing raises ethical questions about suffering, aging, and disabilities. Preliminary findings were presented at the 2017 American Sociological Association annual meeting, and two papers addressing these findings are forthcoming.
INNOVATIVE HEALTH CARE
For 16 months I served as the primary research assistant for the LifeCourse Project at Allina Health, where we studied how medical professionals and institutions responded to the introduction of new health care workers meant to innovate health care delivery. Findings from this work are published in the Journal of Interprofessional Care, with other manuscripts forthcoming.