Emily K. Brunson
Associate Professor and Associate Chair
Ph.D., University of Washington
Phone: (512) 245-6753
Office: ELA 237
Research and Teaching Interests
Medical anthropology, applied anthropology, qualitative methods, social network analysis, vaccination, health equity, crisis and risk communication, health policy
I am an applied anthropologist specializing in medical anthropology. I received an MPH in epidemiology and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Washington.
My primary research focus is health care access and decision-making, and particularly how political, economic and social structures (including class and racial/ethnic inequalities); social networks; and personal experience intersect to produce health outcomes for individuals and communities.
I am currently co-leading CommuniVax, a national alliance of social scientists, public health experts, and community advocates who seek lasting improvements to health equity generally and, more particularly, to inequities facing historically underserved Black and Hispanic/Latino populations in relation to COVID-19 vaccination.
As an applied anthropologist, I am also actively engaged in local, applied projects. I am a board member for the non-profit Capacity Catalyst, and this fall (2021) students in my Community Research Project class are collaborating on equity-focused service learning in association with 212 Catalysts, the DJ Bling Foundation, and the Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTS).
Schoch-Spana M, Brunson E, Long R, Ravi S, Ruth A, Trotochaud M on behalf of the Working Group on Readying Populations for COVID-19 Vaccine. 2020. The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination: Planning Recommendations Informed by Design Thinking and the Social, Behavioral, and Communication Sciences. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Brunson EK, Schoch-Spana M. 2020. A social and behavioral research agenda to facilitate COVID-19 vaccine uptake in the United States. Health Security 18(4):1-7.
Mulligan J, Brunson EK. 2020. Structures of resentment: On feeling—and being—left behind by health care reform. Cultural Anthropology 35(2):317-343.
Schoch-Spana M, Brunson EK, Biddison ELD, Toner E, Gwon HS, Regenberg AC. 2020. Influence of community and culture in the ethical allocation of scarce medical resources in a pandemic situation. Journal of Participatory Medicine 12(1):e18272.
Brunson EK, Schoch-Spana M, Chandler H, Gronvall GK, Ravi S, Sell TK, Shearer M. 2020. The SPARS pandemic 2025-2028: A futuristic scenario to facilitate medical countermeasure communication. Journal of International Crisis and Risk Communication Research 3(1):71-102.
Brunson EK, Mulligan J, Andaya EL, Melo MA, Sered S. 2018. Unrequited engagement: Misadventures in advocating for Medicaid expansion. American Anthropologist 120(3):601-609.
Schoch-Spana M, Brunson EK, Chandler HC, Gronvall GK, Ravi S, Sell TK, Shearer MP. 2018. Recommendations on how to manage anticipated communication dilemmas involving medical countermeasures in an emergency. Public Health Reports 133(4):366-378.
Brunson EK. 2017. “Texans don’t want health insurance”: Social class and the ACA in a red state. In Unequal Coverage: The Experience of Health Care Reform in the United States, pp. 177-202. H Castaneda and J Mulligan, eds. New York: NYU Press.
Brunson EK, Sobo EJ. 2017. Framing childhood vaccination in the USA: Getting past polarization. Human Organization 76(1):38-47.
Brunson EK. 2015. Identifying parents who are amenable to pro-vaccination conversations. Global Pediatric Health 2:1-7.
Brunson EK. 2013. How parents make decisions about their children’s vaccinations. Vaccine 31(46):5466-5470.
Brunson EK. 2013. The impact of social networks on parents’ vaccination decisions. Pediatrics 131(5):1397-1404.
Selected Interviews and News Coverage
The Atlantic. How the pandemic now ends. August 2021.
The San Diego Union Tribune. To return to a post-COVID normal, we must learn to trust one another again. June 2021.
Texas Monthly. Right place, right time. May 2021.
Very Well Health. A 5-point plan for improving vaccination efforts in communities of color. February 2021.
C&EN. Will public trust in science survive the pandemic. January 2021.
Texas Monthly. The COVID-19 vaccines are coming. Is Texas ready? December 2020.
The Hill. The missing link of Biden’s COVID strategy: social scientists. November 2020.
Huffington Post. Before you engage a vaccine skeptic, here’s what you need to know. September 2020.
The Wall Street Journal. A COVID-19 vaccine problem: People who are afraid to get one. August 2020.
USA Today. Experts worry that a COVID-19 vaccine won’t help if not enough people are willing to get one. August 2020.
The Washington Post. Who should get a coronavirus vaccine first? July 2020.
The New York Times. Mistrust of a coronavirus vaccine could imperil widespread immunity. July 2020.
The Atlantic. Our pandemic summer. April 2020.
- ANTH 1312: Cultural Anthropology
- ANTH 3311: Disease and Society
- ANTH 3325: Medical Anthropology
- ANTH 3336/5336: Community Research Project
- ANTH 4309: Culture, Medicine and the Body
- ANTH 4361: Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology
- ANTH 5325: Seminar in Medical Anthropology
- ANTH 5361: Qualitative Methods
- ANTH 7352: Advanced Qualitative Methods