Deborah is a sociocultural anthropologist and Registered Nurse. Her research interests focus on the centrality of place in cultural identity, health and social practice. Specific topic areas have included obesity, stigma, body image, community health and water use, as well as place-based knowledge, identity, and cultural continuity. As an anthropologist she has worked with the Hispanic and Native American communities in Arizona to understand how special places impact individual health, cultural heritage, and community sustainability within the larger context of commercial development. She is particularly concerned with pursuing and fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue as a means to facilitate solutions, advocating the use of community-based participatory research as a crucial component.
Deborah is currently the Associate Director of Obesity Solutions, a joint initiative with Mayo Clinic to promote innovative, agile solutions in obesity and community health. This inter-disciplinary project seeks to stem the worsening global epidemic of obesity, especially among youth and minority populations. Deborah has previously worked in both in-patient and out-patient settings in acute and chronic coronary and medical care. Within these contexts, she has witnessed the impact of chronic diseases upon individual and community health, as well as the need to integrate cultural and social components into health care.
Over the last several years, Deborah has taught a number of experiential learning classes in global health, including research practicums, professionalism, and Study Abroad classes in community health. Her most recent research has focused on understanding student health needs and enhancing the student living environment to promote and support healthy behaviors.