James F. Childress

University Professor & John Allen Hollingsworth Prof, Ethic, Department of Religious Studies


He received his B.A. from Guilford College, his B.D. from Yale Divinity School, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. 


James F. Childress is University Professor and the John Allen Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics at the University of Virginia, where he directs the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life. He is also Professor of Religious Studies, Professor of Public Policy, and Professor of Research in Medical Education in the School of Medicine.


Childress is the author of numerous articles and several books in biomedical ethics and in other areas of ethics. His books in biomedical ethics include Principles of Biomedical Ethics (with Tom L. Beauchamp), now in its 7th edition and translated into several languages; Priorities in Biomedical Ethics; Who Should Decide? Paternalism in Health Care; and Practical Reasoning in Bioethics.  He is also co-editor of Belmont Revisited: Ethical Principles for Biomedical Research (with Eric Meslin and Harold Shapiro), and Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action (with Catharyn Liverman).


Childress has been actively involved in several national committees examining ethics and public policy. He was vice chair of the national Task Force on Organ Transplantation, and he has also served on the Board of Directors of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the UNOS Ethics Committee, the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, the Human Gene Therapy Subcommittee, the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee, and several Data and Safety Monitoring Boards for NIH clinical trials. He was a member of the presidentially-appointed National Bioethics Advisory Commission 1996-2001. He also chaired the Health Sciences Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine.


Childress is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a fellow of the Hastings Center. 


In 1990 he was named Professor of the Year in the state of Virginia by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education; in 2002 he received the University of Virginia’s highest honor—the Thomas Jefferson Award; in 2004 he received the Life-time Achievement Award from the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities; in 2010 he received the Henry Knowles Beecher Award from the Hastings Center.


He has held a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, and a post-doctoral Liberal Arts Fellowship at Harvard Law School. In 2010, he was the Carey and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics at the Library of Congress.


He has been the Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University (1975-79) and a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School and Princeton University.  He received his B.A. from Guilford College, his B.D. from Yale Divinity School, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

Margaret E. Mohrmann

Professor, Department of Pediatrics


Barringer Wing, Room 5367


Dr. Mohrmann is a graduate of the College of Charleston (BS, 1969) and the Medical University of South Carolina (MD, 1973).  After completing her residency in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Hospitals, she returned to MUSC, where she was director of the residency program in pediatrics, medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit, and taught ethics and clinical reasoning to first- and second-year medical students.  In 1987, Dr. Mohrmann came to the University of Virginia as a doctoral student in religious ethics (and a part-time teacher and practitioner of primary care pediatrics), receiving her PhD in 1995. 


She currently holds joint appointments at UVA in the College of Arts & Sciences (Department of Religious Studies) and the School of Medicine. Through the Department of Religious Studies, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the history of Christian ethics, ancient philosophical ethics, and feminist thought, and each semester leads the undergraduate bioethics internship seminar. In the School of Medicine, Dr. Mohrmann has recently stepped down from directing the programs of teaching, clinical service, and research in biomedical ethics, and is currently engaged in teaching and research projects in the center.


Dr. Mohrmann has received numerous teaching awards from medical students and residents, both at MUSC and at UVA, including the UVA School of Medicine Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.  She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the Raven Society (the oldest honorary service organization at UVA), and Omicron Delta Kappa.  In 1988, the College of Charleston bestowed upon her the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, and in 2010 the College’s premedical students selected her to receive the Outstanding Service to Medicine Alumnus/a Award.


Based on her interdisciplinary scholarship at the intersection of ethics, religion, and medicine, Dr. Mohrmann is in demand nationally as a speaker to a variety of audiences, including physicians, medical students, nurses, theologians, chaplains, and lay persons. She is the author of Attending Children: A Doctor’s Education (Georgetown, 2005) and Medicine As Ministry: Reflections on Suffering, Ethics, and Hope (Pilgrim Press, 1995), and co-editor of Pain Seeking Understanding: Suffering, Medicine, and Faith (Pilgrim Press, 1999). Recent publications include “Ethical Grounding for a Profession of Hospital Chaplaincy,” Hastings Center Report 38: 18-23, 2008; and, with Lois Shepherd, “Ready to Listen: Why Welcome Matters,” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 43(3): 646-50, 2011. Her current projects are a book (with Shepherd) on responsibility and the obligation of welcome in medical ethics and a textbook on the pre-Reformation history of Christian ethics.


Shelley Cavalieri

I graduated from UVA in May of 2000 with an Echols interdisciplinary degree in bioethics.  During my time at the University, I focused this major by taking a number of chemistry, biology, and physics courses to form the scientific basis of my studies.  I also directed most of my independent research and writing to questions of justice and distribution; my primary area of interest as an undergraduate was equity in access to medical care, particularly as made available to individuals along traditional axes of oppression, including race, gender, and age.  I was fortunate to take many graduate courses and seminars in philosophy, religious studies, law, and epidemiology, and remain appreciative today for the rigor that these courses brought to my undergraduate career.  These experiences prepared me for success in my subsequent graduate work.

Immediately upon graduation I accepted an eighteen-month assignment with Pellegrino della Terra, a small program of the Italian Methodist Church.  In Palermo, Italy, I worked with Nigerian women who had been trafficked into prostitution, providing social services and translation to my clients.  My studies of distributive justice were the best lens I had to analyze the harms that my clients experienced on a daily basis.  I also spent a summer in Thailand, interviewing individuals engaged in service provision for trafficked women and prostitutes; my time in Thailand had a more explicit health-related focus because of the prevalence of HIV infection in southeast Asia.

I began law school at Boalt Hall School of Law (UC Berkeley) in 2003.  During my time there, I have focused primarily on refugee and immigration issues, as well as broader issues of human rights.  To that end, I am currently taking a year's leave of absence during the middle of my third year to move to Guatemala, where I will study changes in land access as caused by land reform, in addition to the impact of access to land on the choices of individuals and families to migrate. Although my work is no longer explicitly health related, issues of distributive justice animate all discussions of public policy-- who has access to which resources is the key question facing any policy wonk.  My bioethics studies continue to shape the way I engage with the world even now.

Olivia Nevitt


I graduated from UVa in 2009 with a degree in English and a minor in Bioethics.

I went directly from UVa to Columbia University in New York where I earned a Masters in Public Health.  I studied in the Sociomedical Sciences department where I continued on the interdisciplinary track I began as an undergraduate--focusing on health, social justice, bioethics and the power of narrative.  I dedicated much of my research, my master's practicum and thesis to the topic of intimate partner violence. 

Upon graduating I spent a year working in Washington, DC on the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

I am currently a Research Associate with the President's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.  I am also currently serving on the board of directors of a Washington, DC-based domestic violence agency, the Domestic Violence Resource Project. 

As a student at UVa I was awarded a Harrison Undergraduate Research award, which funded an independent research study in which I did a qualitative analysis of the nuanced illness experiences of Hispanic women in the United States.  Professor Marcia Childress served as my mentor and enabled me to envision a career where I could be engaged in exciting, meaningful research, blending all of my varied interests.

The bioethics program at UVa was the perfect home for my blend of interests and the ideal starting point for my career in public health.  It was a privilege to be a part the bioethics internship seminar as a fourth year. I worked with the staff of UVa's Teen Health Center on an adolescent health advocacy project and I still draw on lessons learned while working there.


Lauren Collogan

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2002 as an Echols Major in bioethics. I created my own major, and I focused mainly on bioethics, political philosophy, and religious studies. My studies in these areas led me to pursue a position in bioethics after graduation. As a result, I worked as a research assistant and a program officer in the Center for Urban Bioethics at The New York Academy of Medicine in New York City.

During my time at the Academy, I conducted research focused mainly on research ethics and adolescent consent issues. This research led to the publication of several papers and book chapters. I also worked on grant proposals for projects involving medical education and palliative care. I collaborated with a number of bioethicists, health care providers, attorneys, and other professionals interested in these topics. After two productive years at the Academy, I left to attend law school at Columbia University , where I am currently finishing my first year.

The bioethics program at UVA was incredibly helpful in preparing me for my subsequent work in bioethics and for law school. Learning to argue multiple sides of difficult, often emotionally charged issues has been particularly useful in the law school environment. It's also amazing how frequently topics I explored in bioethics classes come up in discussions, both in class and in other settings. I would advocate the program for anyone with an interest in these issues specifically or with a more general interest in health care and philosophy.

Erin Conger

Since graduating from UVa in 2003 with a major in Biology and minor in Bioethics, I attended The School of Public Health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am graduating in May of 2005 with my Master of Healthcare Administration, with a concentration in healthcare finance.

As I look forward to beginning my career in Healthcare Administration, I hope that my studies within bioethics will help me to better understand controversial healthcare issues as a future hospital leader.

I have accepted a post-graduate administrative fellowship with top executives at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. During my time at Jefferson, I hope learn first hand how ethical decisions are made and how hospitals deal with difficult cases.

Carlton Haywood

I am a student in the doctoral program in bioethics and health policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. My research interests are in the areas of African American perspectives on bioethics, ethical issues in the care, treatment, and research involving persons with Sickle Cell Disease, and racial and ethnic health disparities in the U.S. My dissertation will explore the determinants of trust among adults with Sickle Cell and the role of trust in the willingness of adults with Sickle Cell to participate in clinical research.

I had the good fortune of being able to study bioethics as an undergraduate and as a Masters student at UVA. My undergraduate major was in religious studies, with a minor in bioethics. My training in the bioethics program at UVA provided me with a strong foundation that has enabled me to experience much success in my doctoral program, and it has created wonderful academic opportunities for me despite the fact that I am still early in my doctoral training.

For example, due to my background in ethics and my research interests, I have been asked to co-author an upcoming book chapter examining the ethical, legal, and social implications surrounding Sickle Cell Disease in the Human Genome Era. Additionally, the relationships that I formed with my fellow students and the faculty in the UVA program have provided me with a network of esteemed colleagues that I rely upon heavily today for support and advice in addressing the many challenges that arise for someone at this early stage of his career.

John Jesus

I am currently a student at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Biomedical ethics is particularly relevant to my choice of career, and is proving more valuable than I first imagined before entering medical school. Few of my colleagues have had the opportunity to take courses in medical ethics, and as a result, I feel better equipped to thoughtfully and respectfully address the often difficult situations physicians and students can face in the hospital. I intend to continue my interests in medical ethics, most likely through a Master's of Public Health or Master's in Bioethics Program. 

While an undergraduate at UVa, I created a biomedical ethics major through the interdisciplinary studies program, and worked through the Philosophy, Religious Studies, and International Relations departments. Perhaps the most valuable part of the academic experience was the rigorous and nurturing interaction with the faculty. I was also a member of the bioethics society and served as the student representative to the bioethics curriculum advisory committee for two years. During the summers I participated in internships at the NIH, NIEHS, and the Alliance of Health Reform, and published a paper on international research ethics in journal TRENDS in Molecular Medicine . 

More generally, bioethics has provided me a lens through which to critique and appreciate my own life choices and pursuits. How I approach debates on contentious issues, how I think about my role in international aid, and even how I choose to vote, is undoubtedly influenced by the time I spent in seminars and discussions, working with the faculty, and by my readings of John Rawls, Ruth Macklin, and more.

Susan Kimble

Rebecca Jesada

In 2003 I graduated from UVA with a major in English and minor in Bioethics.  After graduation I took a position in medical emergency preparedness with a Department of Defense contractor.  My first project, the Disaster Preparedness, Vulnerability Analysis, Training and Exercise (DVATEX) Program conducted by the Navy Medicine Office of Homeland Security (part of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in D.C.), took me on hospital site visits from Guam to Hawaii, Sicily to Spain and back again.  DVATEX conducted vulnerability assessments of 30 Navy healthcare facilities in about 18 months as well as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) response training and tabletop exercises for healthcare providers.  Among other goals, the program enabled the collection of data for the Surgeon General about budgetary and other issues.  It was selected as a finalist for the 2004 Mitretek Innovations in Homeland Security Award by the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.  I also had the opportunity to work with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on bioterrorism preparedness assessments of New York City hospitals.  We assessed facilities in different boroughs throughout the city, from Veterans Affairs to publicly and privately-funded hospitals of all shapes and sizes. 

After the New York project, I became interested in the legal implications of emergency preparedness and in expanding my horizons in the defense industry.  I took a position with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), where I currently work with the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, Program Manager for Non Stockpile Chemical Materiel.  My team supports U.S. compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty banning the use and production of chemical weapons, as regulated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.  This position has given me exposure to many fascinating political and legal issues, as it involves various levels of government, such as the Office of the Secretary of the Defense and the State Department, as well as supporting international inspection visits to U.S. destruction sites.

I’m currently pursuing a law degree with a specialty in health law at the University of Maryland while working for SAIC.  With a law degree, I plan to expand upon my current work in the defense sector.  Looking back, in my Bioethics courses I was constantly asked to challenge prevailing paradigms, to create my own scaffolding for constructing a particular argument.  And in my career, I have often been extremely grateful for this analytical approach which the Bioethics program helped me to develop.





Ben Krohmal

I am currently in a two year fellowship at the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health - which I've been known to describe as "bioethics fantasy camp." Camp activities include serving on the Clinical Center Ethics Committee, clinical rounds, participating with the NIDA IRB, training to lead ethics consultations, and a research ethics course and bioethics seminar series which each week brings in some of the great minds in bioethics - like John Arras. Research-wise, I'm working on a number of issues relating to phase I oncology research, economic tiering in access to healthcare, research on human biological samples, and altruism in research participants. 

I majored in biology and philosophy at UVA. My courses with John Arras and Jim Childress, and the bioethics internship seminar with Margaret Mohrman have provided invaluable preparation and allowed me to hit the ground running with my current work. UVA's bioethics program is recognized as one of the very top programs in the country for the quality of its faculty.

More important to my experience than being taught by big names in the field though are the professors' commitment to teaching and interest in their students both in and out of class - from lasagna dinners to chats on the Downtown Mall to guidance finding the perfect volunteer opportunity, internship, fellowship, job, or, in my case, fantasy camp.

Jen Leigh

I graduated in 2002 with majors in Biology and Biomedical Ethics. I was drawn into the Bioethics program by the unique and interesting courses, the scope, the intimacy of the program, and the amazing and approachable faculty. My studies and interests soon led me to Soweto, South Africa, where a fellowship enabled me to engage in a project concerned with learning and sharing the stories of individuals affected by HIV, to try and make real lives often considered distant and referred to as statistics. My project focused on children, and after returning I have shared their personal narratives and photographs in numerous forums, including the Bioethics Society and as a speaker for the Global AIDS Alliance.

After graduating, I interned in the Office of Bioethics at a community hospital near D.C. conducting patient ethics consultations, discussing issues such as advance directives, cultural conflicts and questions of consent, sitting in on the hospital ethics board, and weighing in on discussions of hospital policy. I was grateful for the prolific readings and culture of never-ending debate of the Bioethics program, as I regularly reached back into both. Following, I worked for the Virginia Department of Health, as an Epidemiologist Specialist, in the Division of HIV/STD. I worked as a member of an Outbreak Response Team, helping to formulate and engaging in disease intervention strategies. My ethics background gave me a unique and useful perspective as we sought to balance the rights of individual patients with infected populations and the community as a whole, and to address sensitive, personal, and highly confidential issues.


Shep Nickel

I am currently a medical student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. While I have just begun my medical career, I already view my bioethics coursework at UVa as invaluable both as preparation for medical school and for my development as a medical professional. My UVa bioethics classes greatly advanced my confidence and ability to identify, analyze, and articulate arguments. Furthermore, since the medical school curriculum cannot devote substantial time to the study of ethics, I am especially glad that I obtained this important training as an undergraduate. While the ethical issues in medicine will change, my background from UVa will empower me with the knowledge base to engage meaningfully in debates as a physician. I hope to pursue a career that combines direct patient care with public health work. 

graduated in 2004 as a member of the first class of the Human Biology Distinguished Majors Program. The interdisciplinary Human Biology DMP reflected my interest in both science and humanities and allowed me to take numerous bioethics courses. In particular I structured my coursework to study both the scientific, societal, and ethical issues raised by the expanding field of genetics.

My DMP thesis focused on lab work investigating genetic imprinting, but as part of the thesis I also ethically analyzed assisted reproductive technology informed consent in relation to the potential risk of imprinting defects.

Adele Shartzer

I began graduate school in the summer of 2003, just several months after finishing up my Bioethics degree. I attended the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University , pursuing an MPH in Health Policy. GW's proximity to the nation's capital enabled me to find an internship while in graduate school at one of the many non-profits in Washington , DC . I worked for nearly a year at Families USA, an organization seeking access to quality health care for all Americans. After I finished the coursework for my MPH in the fall of 2005, I began working for the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation, which is another health-related non-profit in Washington. I still work at NIHCM Foundation and love being in Washington.

The skills I developed during my undergraduate Bioethics program have proved invaluable to me during grad school and at work. Health policy demands an ability to compare and evaluate arguments; though the setting and substance may have shifted from the classroom to conference room and from moral status to insurance status, the analytical approach is very much the same. I have also benefited from the exposure to academic research methods and the practice in digesting dense reading material I gained during my Bioethics program. In addition, health policy requires succinct and clear thinking, writing and speaking. These skills were both expected and developed in my undergraduate Bioethics classes.

Most importantly, my Bioethics training has helped me to remember that policies on access, coverage and quality of health care services matter fundamentally to individuals.

Morgan Taylor

I will graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 with my law degree and my Master's in Bioethics. While here, I became involved in a conference on the constitutionality of state limitations on living wills for pregnant women, legislative testimony recommending a licensing and intellectual property schema for California's stem cell program, Congressional testimony for a habeus corpus bill regarding incompetent patients and life sustaining treatment, and the permissibility of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act under federal drug law. Ultimately, I hope to work as in-house counsel for an academic medical center.

At UVa, I was a biology major and a bioethics minor, with a leadership position in the Bioethics Society. The breadth of UVa's bioethics curriculum - biology, philosophy, religious studies, and practical ethics - prepared me for graduate level classes much better than the majority of my Master's program colleagues, whose backgrounds are substantially narrower. The quality of UVa's bioethics program was illustrated on the syllabi of my Master's classes - the works of UVa's bioethics faculty are central.

Finally, my integral involvement with the intimately sized and incredibly approachable bioethics faculty gave me the confidence to work closely with my graduate faculty, which ultimately lead to all the interesting projects listed above.

Julia Thies

I graduated from Virginia in 2004 with a degree in Finance and International Business from the McIntire School of Commerce and a minor in Bioethics from the College of Arts and Sciences. I loved the variety of experience that my course of study afforded me; I had the ability to, in one afternoon, transition from an international finance class to a philosophy debate at the Law School on the origins of rights. The Bioethics program allowed me access to a wonderful collection of classes that span across many disciplines and schools.

During college, I spent a summer working with the World Health Organization and the NHS in the UK learning about international policy and ethics and another summer writing for the international edition of Forbes magazine. Today, I analyze healthcare technology and pharmaceutical services stocks for an investment bank in New York. My most valuable resources include the text of the Medicare Modernization Act, updates from HHS and CMS and a general understanding of the 'healthcare value chain'.

The heated conversations in my office are just as often about what level of quality we can ensure all Americans as it is about operating margins and earnings per share. My experience in the Bioethics program has given me a unique perspective on healthcare as an industry and will continue to shape my work in the finance world.

Emily Wood

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2000 with a major in Religious Studies and a minor in Bioethics I started work in the Center for Urban Bioethics at The New York Academy of Medicine in New York City . One of my first projects at the Academy required me to research and write about the existence of racial disparities in health care and provide recommendations to various health care leaders in New York on how to address such disparities. This research led to a grant proposal on what might be done to improve how racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic data on patients is collected at hospitals and health care institutions throughout New York . Other projects at the Academy included an evaluation of a palliative care education assessment tool developed by my colleagues at the Academy to improve palliative care education within New York State 's medical schools. I also researched and wrote about the research ethics issues that arose specific to conducting research on victims of the September 11 th tragedy. This research led to a book chapter, article, and federally funded grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to further address the issue with bioethicists, epidemiologists and health policy experts from all over the country. After two stimulating years at the Academy I left to begin my legal education at Vanderbilt University Law School . During my time at Vanderbilt, I have researched and written about the implications of adopting a public health perspective in our mass tort system, as well as the ethical and legal issues associated with financial conflicts of interest in academic medical centers. I will graduate this May and begin my legal career in the corporate health care division of Ropes & Gray in Boston , Massachusetts .

While at the University of Virginia I had the opportunity to be involved in a number of wonderful experiences related to my study of bioethics. I worked with the Director of Comparative Medicine at U.Va.'s Medical Center to prepare a chapter on the ethical issues involved in the care and use of laboratory animals for an NIH mandated policy manual. I was involved in organizing a national undergraduate bioethics conference held at the University in the spring of 2000. I spent a summer as a Student Scholar at the Hastings Center in Garrison , New York and as an intern in the Division of Bioethics at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx . I also spent a summer studying comparative health care policy at Oxford University in Oxford , England .

My minor in bioethics has proven invaluable to all of the above experiences and in my legal education. I can't say enough good things about the bioethics program, both in terms of its exceptional and approachable faculty and the fascinating course of study it has to offer. My minor provided me with a solid analytic foundation and the necessary tools to better analyze and contribute to the increasingly diverse and challenging issues facing our health care system and society today.

Rebecca Stangl

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy


Jarrett Zigon

Director of the Bioethics Program, William & Linda Porterfield Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Anthropology

Brooks Hall, 301


My interests include the anthropology of moralities and ethics; the intertwining of humans, worlds and situations; political activity and theory; the intersection of anthropology and philosophy; the drug war; artificial intelligence and ethics; and data ethics. These interests are taken up from the perspective of an anthropology strongly influenced by post-Heideggerian continental philosophy and critical theory, the theoretical articulation of which I name critical hermeneutics.


I am the Director of the Bioethics Program, and the Founding Director of the Center for Data Ethics and Justice, both at the University of Virginia. Recently, I have started to think the possibility of ethics in the advent of artificial intelligence, including how this arrival forces us to rethink the human. Not unrelated, I have started to think the question of ethics and justice in data-driven worlds. Prior to this, I conducted research for over a decade with the globally networked anti-drug war movement, in an attempt to rethink some of our most closely held ethical and political assumptions and conceptualizations. My anthropological research career began in Russia, where I ethnographically examined Russian Orthodox Church drug rehabilitation programs as spaces for moral training, and did life-historical research on moral experience in times of post-Soviet social and political change.


My latest book, A War on People: Drug User Politics and a New Ethics of Community (2019), is an ethnographically-informed critical hermeneutic exploration of how the anti-drug war movement is politically building new worlds and creating a new ethics of community through the enactment of freedom as letting-be and attuned care. I also recently published Disappointment: Toward a Critical Hermeneutics of Worldbuilding (2018), which addresses the ethical, political and ontological grounds of the disappointment many feel today, offering an alternative vision of what a future could be and how to achieve it. I have authored several other books: Morality: An Anthropological Perspective (2008), Making the New Post-Soviet Person: Narratives of Moral Experience in Contemporary Moscow (2010), and HIV is God’s Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia (2011), and edited a volume titled, Multiple Moralities and Religion in Contemporary Russia (2011).


I received my Ph.D. in anthropology from the City University of New York, Graduate Center (2006) and M.A. in liberal arts, with a focus on moral and political philosophy, from St. John’s College (1998). I have been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. My research has been funded through a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the European Research Council (ERC), among others.


Anthropology of moralities and ethics; the intertwining of humans, worlds and situations; political activity and theory; the intersection of anthropology and philosophy; critical hermeneutics; drug war; artificial intelligence and ethics; data ethics and justice.


Selected Publications

2019 A War on People: Drug User Politics and a New Ethics of Community. Oakland: University of California Press.


2018 Disappointment: Toward a Critical Hermeneutics of Worldbuilding. New York: Fordham University Press.


2015 “What is a situation?: an assemblic ethnography of the drug war,” in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 30, no. 3.


2014 “An Ethics of Dwelling and a Politics of World-Building: A Critical Response to Ordinary Ethics,” in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 20, 746-64.


2014 “Maintaining the ‘Truth:’ performativity, human rights, and the limitations on politics,” in Theory and Event, vol. 17, no. 3.


2014 “Temporalization and Ethical Action,” in Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 42, no. 3.


2014 “Attunement and Fidelity: Two Ontological Conditions for Morally Being-in-the-World,” in Ethos, vol. 42, no.1.


2014 “Moral Experience – Introduction,” in Ethos, vol. 42, no. 1 (co-authored with Jason Throop).


2013 “Human Rights as Moral Progress? A Critique,” in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 28, no. 4.


2013 “On Love: remaking moral subjectivity in post-rehabilitation Russia,” in American Ethnologist, vol. 40, no. 1.


2011 “HIV Is God’s Blessing”: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia. Berkeley: University of California Press.


2009 “Morality Within a Range of Possibilities: A Dialogue with Joel Robbins,” in Ethnos, vol. 74, no. 2.


2007 “Moral Breakdown and the Ethical Demand: A Theoretical Framework for an Anthropology of Moralities,” in Anthropological Theory, vol.7, no.2.

China Scherz

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology


Brooks Hall 207


I am a cultural medical anthropologist. My research and teaching interests are focused on how people construe and negotiate ethical problems of care. Through a diverse range of projects, I have explored: how people decide whom they should care for and how, how these values are instilled, and how they change over time.


My recent book Having People, Having Heart: Charity, Sustainable Development, and Problems of Dependence in Uganda is an analysis of non-governmental organizations working with AIDS orphans and children with disabilities in Uganda. In it, I argue that despite the popularity of the concepts of sustainability, community participation, and cost-effectiveness in international development, Ugandan villagers have experienced the shifts away from the distribution of material resources, which are tied to these concepts, not as acts of empowerment, but as suspect refusals to redistribute wealth. By contrast, many rural Ugandans have come to see redistributive forms of Catholic charity as deeply intertwined with their own moral frameworks. At a more theoretical level, the book engages Africanist literature on hierarchical interdependence, and reexamines interpretations of Marcel Mauss that focus on the inevitable wounds of the charitable gift.


My interests in ethics and care are also reflected in my current research on religion and addiction in Uganda.  The per capita consumption rate among Ugandans who drink is among the highest in the world. The Ugandan government, individual drinkers and their loved ones are increasingly coming to see this high level of alcohol consumption as a serious problem and have taken up varied methods to intervene in cases of problematic drinking.  These methods include legislation, in-patient rehabilitation, prayer and participation in religious communities, indigenous forms of herbal medicine, and rituals intended to engage the ancestors and other spirits.


Scholars writing on addiction have often raised complex questions concerning the proper way to balance understandings of intention, the will, and the biochemical interactions between alcohol and the human body.  While questions of human agency, intention, biology, and culpability are also important in Uganda, the narratives told by Ugandans who have stopped drinking frequently include other agents involved in producing and halting problematic drinking.  These other agents are often supernatural beings from Christian and Kiganda religious traditions.  This study of alcohol use and recovery in Uganda will explore how Ugandans’ understandings of the involvement of supernatural forces changes outcomes and experiences of recovery and scholarly understandings of questions about “the will,” freedom, and agency in relation to addiction.  


Cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, alcohol, addiction, development, bureaucracy, accountability, Christianity, ethics, Uganda, Africa, Ireland, United States

Selected Publications

2014 - Having People, Having Heart: Charity, Sustainable Development, and Problems of Dependence in Central Uganda . Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


2013 - Let Us Make God Our Banker: Ethics, Temporality, and Agency in a Ugandan Charity Home. American Ethnologist 40(4):624-636.


2011 - Protecting Children, Preserving Families: Moral Conflict and Actuarial Science in a Problem of Contemporary Governance . Political and Legal Anthropology Review 34(1):33-50.

Sylvia Tidey

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and Global Studies


Brooks Hall 208


I am a cultural anthropologist with an interest in the ethics of care in family intimacies amid particular socio–political notions of the good life.  In my various research projects in Indonesia, I address how family expectations and obligations of care blur lines between corruption and good governance in local bureaucracies, and complicate health outcomes for transgender women in the context of HIV and LGBT activism.  The questions that permeate my research are how globally circulating ideologies of improvement around health or government interact with on–the–ground governmental and health­–related practices; how the normative dimensions of such ideologies contrasts with the ethical complexities of everyday life; and what role the maintenance of family ties plays in the construction of ethical personhood.


In my first research project I examined the continuation of civil service corruption in Indonesia in the aftermath of stringent anti–­corruption measures meant to promote “good governance.” If anti–corruption did not succeed in decreasing corruption, so I asked, what did it do? I am currently working on a book manuscript based on this research, tentatively entitled Between the Ethical and the Right Thing. Based on twelve months of ethnographic research in city–level civil service in the eastern Indonesia city of Kupang, named Indonesia’s most corrupt city by Transparency International in 2008, this book uniquely draws on fieldwork conducted inside government offices and with civil servants, thus offering perspectives from the viewpoint of those so often portrayed as the main culprits of corruption. This book, then, will offer a thorough ethnographic study of the contradictory effects of anti–corruption measures, the practical and ethical dilemmas these measures pose to civil servants, and the complex ways in which these dilemmas are intertwined with configurations of state and kinship.


In my second, ongoing research project, I attend to the intersection of global and local circulations of HIV care and LGBT activism in Indonesia, which currently has one of Asia’s fastest growing HIV epidemics.  Through extensive person–centered, phenomenological research with waria – Indonesian transgender women, I look at waria’s possibilities for personhood, care, and happiness as they develop within the nexus of family, HIV–related care, and LGBT activism where contrasting conceptions of what constitutes proper personhood, care, and happiness often collide.  Central to this research are questions of how waria maintain relationships with their families in spite of carrying a double stigma as gender non–conforming persons at risk of infection with a highly stigmatized virus; what kinds of care alternatives exist outside of familial care contexts; and what the unexpected effects of some assumptions at the heart of LGBT and HIV–related care discourses are on waria health and well–being.     


Corruption, bureaucracy, the state, kinship, sexuality, (trans)gender, HIV/AIDS, phenomenological anthropology, Southeast Asia (Indonesia)

Selected Publications

Forthcoming Queer lines, straight ties: Love in Indonesian transgender family intimacies. In Fluid Gender and Fluid Love. M.W. Yong and D. Byrne (eds.). Brill.


Forthcoming A tale of two mayors: configurations of care and corruption in eastern Indonesian direct district head elections. Current Anthropology.


2016 Between the ethical and the right thing: how (not) to be corrupt in Indonesian bureaucracy in an age of good governance. American Ethnologist 43(4): 663-676.


2013 Corruption and adherence to rules in the construction sector: reading the "bidding books". American Anthropologist 115(2): 188-202.


2012 A divided provincial town: the development from ethnicity based to class- based segmentation in Kupang, West Timor. City and Society 24(3).

Nichole Flores

Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies


Gibson Hall, S-433


DR. NICHOLE M. FLORES is an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. She speaks, writes and teaches about the significance of Catholic and Latinx theology and ethics in plural social, political, and ecclesial contexts. She has been awarded grants from the Mellon Global South Humanities Fellowship from the Institute for Humanities and Global Cultures and the Yale Center for Faith and Culture in support of work on her first book, The Aesthetics of Solidarity. She is a contributing author at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith & CultureIn 2015, Dr. Flores was honored with the Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award for the best academic essay in Catholic theology from the Catholic Theological Society of America.


Dr. Flores earned an A.B. in government from Smith College, an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College.

Research Interests 

Dr. Flores’ research emphasizes the contributions of Catholic and U.S. Latinx theologies to notions of justice, emotion, and aesthetics as they relate to the common good within plural socio-political contexts. In practical ethics, her work addresses issues of migration, labor, consumption, race and ethnicity, family, and politics.

Selected Publications

  • “When Discourse Breaks Down: Race and Aesthetic Solidarity in the U.S. Catholic Church,” in Polarization in the Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal, Mary Ellen Konieczny, Charles C. Camosy, and Tricia C. Bruce, eds. Minneapolis, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016.

  • “The Personal is Political: Toward a Vision of Justice in Latina Theology,” in Feminist Catholic Theological Ethics: Conversations in the World Church, Linda Hogan and Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, eds. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2014.

  • “Latina/o Families: Solidarity and the Common Good,” in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Tobias Winright and Mark Allman, eds. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, December 2013.

Aidan Seale-Feldman

Bioethics Postdoctoral Research Associate & Lecturer

Brooks Hall, 307


I am a sociocultural and medical anthropologist working in Nepal. My research explores global mental health interventions with a focus on rethinking conceptualizations of affliction and care. Based on two years of fieldwork (2014-2016) my dissertation, The Work of Disaster: Events of Affliction, Care, and Intervention in Nepal, is an ethnographic examination of the phenomenology of disaster and the transformation of chronic suffering into objects of emergency intervention following the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. In connection with my interest in global mental health, I have also conducted research on the problem of adolescent “mass hysteria” in and the movement of embodied affliction between women in Nepal.


I received my PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles (2018); my MA in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles (2012); and my BA in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College (2009). In 2017 I was a visiting doctoral scholar at the Center for Research in Medicine, Science, Health, Mental Health, and Society (CERMES3) in Paris, France.


My research has been supported with funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the UCLA International Institute, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, and the FPR-UCLA Program for the Study of Culture, Brain, Development and Mental Health.


Medical and psychological anthropology; sociocultural anthropology; global mental health; humanitarianism and disaster; care and ethics; theories of event; critical phenomenology; mass hysteria and conversion disorder; Nepal and the Himalaya.

Selected Publications

2018. “Images.” Correspondences, Cultural Anthropology website, March 2, 2018.


2017. “Jackson, Michael and Albert Piette (eds.) 2015. What is Existential Anthropology?
Berghahn Books. 248 pp. Hb.:$95.00, ISBN: 9781782386360.” Social
Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale.


2015. "Mental Health after the Earthquake: Building Nepal’s Mental Health System in Times of
Emergency." Fieldsights - Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website, October 14, 2015.
mental-health-system-in-times-ofemergency (co-authored with Nawaraj Upadhaya).

Faculty and Staff

Rebecca Stangl

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

Jarrett Zigon

Director of the Bioethics Program, William & Linda Porterfield Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Anthropology

James F. Childress

University Professor & John Allen Hollingsworth Prof, Ethic, Department of Religious Studies

Nichole Flores

Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Margaret E. Mohrmann

Professor, Department of Pediatrics

China Scherz

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Aidan Seale-Feldman

Bioethics Postdoctoral Research Associate & Lecturer

Sylvia Tidey

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and Global Studies