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24/7: Studying Epidemic Disease Through a Sociocultural Lens

How will we look back on the Zika virus in 20 or more years? That’s a question Skyler Gailing ’18 hopes to answer through her Summer Fellows research.

Anthropology and American Studies
Faculty mentor: Lauren Wynne

How will we look back on the Zika virus in 20 or more years? That’s a question Skyler Gailing ’18 hopes to answer through her Summer Fellows research. 

“I’m looking to find how cultural groups make sense of the unknown, and what happens when an epidemic strikes,” says Gailing, who is looking to responses to smallpox and AIDS for historical context. “I there’s a lot to learn from those experiences. One of the takeaways for my project is how we help marginalized populations, how governments respond, how scientists research the problem, and what power people have.” 

Gailing says she wants to continue the research beyond the summer and has her eye on graduate school and hopes to translate her interests into a career as a historical anthropologist and archaeologist, as well as a professor. 

“I want to be Indiana Jones, but accurate,” she laughs. “I love research so much, and it’s cool to be here this summer and get to do it.”