Office Hour: The Medical Anthropologist

Hi there! I’m Samuel Cai, and I’m the blogger for Office Hour and Blogside Manner. For Office Hour, I visit professors at the best university in the world and talk to them about their jobs here at Brown!

This week, I visited Professor Katherine Mason, a faculty member in the anthropology department! Keep reading for more on her class Culture and Health and her research as a medical anthropologist!


Professor Mason enjoys working at Brown because the students here are bright and have a natural curiosity, eagerness, and interest in the subject. The students here show their love of learning beyond just trying to get a good grade. One of the classes she is teaching is culture and health; students should expect interactive lecturing, bad jokes, and encountering the perspective that the way we experience is not purely biological. The class is geared towards freshmen and sophomores in lots of STEM classes, particularly premed classes, who want to think about the other side of things.


Professor Mason does research in China primarily. Her interest started as a junior in college, when she did an internship in Taiwan. After teaching English in Guangzhou, she became interested in the interaction between culture and health. After going to grad school, she returned to study the local public health system in South East China, particularly in relation to the SARS epidemic. Her most current research project, a collaborative project with Columbia epidemiologists, is focused on Chinese immigrants in Chinatown in Brooklyn, particularly those of Fujianese ethnicity. She is studying the stigma that exists against HIV amongst Chinese people. Chinese people have the lowest HIV testing rates and show up for treatment the latest, suggesting such a stigma does exist.

Have a professor you’d like to see covered on Office Hour? Send me an email at!




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