About me

I’m currently a student in the joint MD/PhD program in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania where I recently defended my PhD. Prior to my time at Penn, I studied at the College of William and Mary, where I was a Murray 1693 Scholar. I graduated in 2011 with a self-designed major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and a second major in Anthropology.

As an undergrad at William & Mary, I spent much of my time in biology labs, studying molecular biology through the intricacies of protein signaling pathways. This work culminated in my honors thesis. I subsequently spent a brief time at Merck Research Laboratories, where I discovered that while I was passionate about the molecular pathways that lead to disease, I yearned to know more about the other paths – historical, social, political-economic – that so structure patterns of poor health and illness.  These interests led me to combined study of medicine and anthropology.

My work explores the discourses, structural issues, and everyday practices that contribute to health inequality, with a particular emphasis on race, gender, and sexuality. Theoretically and politically, I am influenced by critical race theory, feminist and queer of color critique, and postcolonial studies. Combining my interests in Africa & the diaspora, migration, humanitarianism, and the anthropology of the state, my current research explores the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in Philadelphia and the institutions designed to care for them.

Aside from research, I am passionate about interdisciplinary collaboration, education at all levels, and service. Influenced by my trajectory from the life sciences to the social sciences and medicine, I explored interdisciplinary collaboration through programs like the Emerging Leaders in Science and Society program and the Perry World House Graduate Fellowship. I am also passionate about education at the undergraduate, graduate, and medical school levels.

In my non-academic life, I’m a voracious reader and lifelong diarist, consume way too much tea and coffee for my own good, and feel lucky to call the city of Brotherly Love my home.




Want to get in touch? Email me at michelle.munyikwa [at] gmail.com or find me on twitter @mrmunyikwa.

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