2020 Interdisciplinary Research Grants

artistically rendered color x-ray of human jaw and teeth

Dental Visits Cost More Than Money: Conceptualizing Links Between Financial Uncertainty and Oral Health


Cost is the primary barrier to dental care in the U.S., with 1 in 5 adults reporting financial barriers to receiving necessary care. Understanding how financial barriers are formed and maintained is critical to designing effective policy and community-based interventions to alleviate these barriers. Current health disparities research focuses on income and insurance coverage as the main factors that contribute to financial barriers. This group's co-directors propose that this existing model is overly simplistic since it fails to account for additional components of material hardship. Recent research by Dr. Conrad suggests that income, along with housing insecurity, bill-paying insecurity, perceived financial stress, emergency funds, and several other factors interact synergistically to produce financial uncertainty. The primary objective of this project is to develop a multidimensional model of financial uncertainty and oral health.

Group members will accomplish this by conducting a scoping review of the literature and using the results to design a model via collaborative conceptualization. Their goal is to use this new model as the foundation for hypothesis-driven research. While in residency, the group will prepare a grant proposal to submit to the National Institutes of Health. In addition to the conceptual model and grant proposal, they will also prepare a manuscript that summarizes findings from the scoping review.

The long-term goal of this project is to produce research that can be used by oral health stakeholders to propose more effective public health and community-based interventions to eliminate oral health disparities among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

Abstract picture of people fighting on land.

Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging


Imagining Latinidades is an edited book project born out of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–funded and Obermann Center–sponsored Sawyer Seminar of the same name. Bringing together scholarship by experts that was presented over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, this book project is rooted in an urgent concern for how Latina/o/x people are constructed by others and how they construct new imaginaries for themselves. Given the recent jolting shifts in discourse and public policy, the place of Latina/o/x people in the United States has never been more uncertain. By incorporating the scholarly work and personal insights of individuals in the humanities and interpretive social sciences, this project develops a far more nuanced understanding of how Latina/o/x peoples see themselves and how others see them.

The co-directors are interested in exploring the ways in which Latina/o/x people disrupt dominant and dominating articulations of nation/nationhood/belonging and how articulations of national belonging (particularly those that exclude Latina/o/x folks) puncture the social fabric in problematic ways. Over the course of the IDRG, they intend to finish drafting the introduction for the book and to begin drafting the proposal, which will be submitted to one or more university presses.

drawing of pregnant woman and female activists

New Grammars for Reproductive Justice


This team will analyze interview data for a book project, New Grammars for Reproductive Justice. Intended as a book for both academic and public audiences, New Grammars for Reproductive Justice traces the struggle among health care providers and reproductive justice advocates to invent vocabularies that account for the intersecting systems of oppressions and histories faced by poor women, people of color, queer, trans and non-binary people. Drawing from current research in transgender studies, feminist studies, and rhetoric, this project makes use of the reproductive justice framework developed by women of color to analyze ongoing debates over language use and inclusivity within reproductive health care and advocacy. During the Obermann residency, Drs. Fixmer-Oraiz and Yam will analyze transcripts from approximately sixty hours of semi- structured interviews with stakeholders, such as representatives from national reproductive rights and justice organizations, health service providers, and queer, trans, and/or non-binary parents. They will study these interviews in order to illustrate the wide range of affective responses, ethical rationales, political arguments, and lived experiences stakeholders mobilize to make sense of this tension between gender specificity and neutrality in language. Ultimately, New Grammars for Reproductive Justice queries the possibilities for crafting better language in the context of reproductive health care and politics—language that is more inclusive, accurate, and affirming for all those who birth and/or parent.