Minor: African Studies
Mentor: Rachel Chapman, Department of Anthropology
Current research project: ተስፋ መቁረጥ (The loss of hope): The Precarity of Hope and Healing in Ethiopia’s Medically Plural Health System
Meron Girma is a senior at the University of Washington, pursuing a degree in Medical Anthropology and Global Health with a minor in African Studies. She is interested in ethnographic and qualitative studies to look at healthcare equity and implementation in Ethiopia. She hopes to continue her research as she pursues an MPH/MD. Her ultimate goal is to use findings from her research, namely patient experiences to promote health policy and create a united healthcare system that fits the needs of people in Ethiopia particularly in rural areas.
Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Meron recently spent three months in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia conducting ethnographic research on healthcare accessibility within the city’s medically plural health system. This project explored the efficacy of current health options by gathering data directly from patients and healthcare providers. The healthcare itinerary, defined as the health seeking journey for individual sufferers, exposed structural failures in the Ethiopian health care system, but more importantly reveals how these structural failures give way to a sense of hopelessness that results in patient disengagement from the healthcare system. The findings of this project will serve as input for the Ministry of Health in terms of generating scientific evidence for policy reform.
When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in my first research lab my fall quarter of sophomore year that was focused on stem cell regeneration. I was interested in medicine and health, so I did what most students in STEM did and joined a lab. I worked in a couple different labs on and off for a little while until I realized lab work was not for me, and that was okay. Instead through further exploration I discovered my interests to be within ethnographic research where I can deeply engage with participants and community members to curate solutions to health disparities.
What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t give up! Before I got my first research position, I emailed more than a dozen professors and received almost only rejection emails. If I hadn’t gone through that process, I wouldn’t have found my current project with such an amazing mentor. So don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and PI’s, and try not to feel discouraged if you don’t hear back or get rejected, you will eventually find the perfect position! :)