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Anthropology | Caroline Owens

Ph.D., Emory University
Assistant Professor


Research Interests:

Topics: biocultural anthropology, applied medical anthropology, resource insecurity, resilience, human well-being


Trained as a biocultural anthropologist, I study inequality and human well-being using access to basic resources and healthcare as avenues of inquiry. Broadly, my research falls within Medical Anthropology, Public Health, and Human Biology. I have conducted mixed-methods research on these themes internationally in Ethiopia and domestically in the United States. I draw insights from cultural and evolutionary streams within anthropology to produce an integrative framework of human health and healing. In one stream of my research, I examine the relationship between wealth and health outcomes by problematizing conventional measures of wealth and leveraging multidimensional measures that may be more sensitive to local livelihoods and lifeways. More recently, I have worked directly with healthcare and nonprofit organizations as an applied anthropologist. Much of this research has focused on the promise and potential perils of Food as Medicine intervention programs seeking to alleviate food insecurity and adverse cardiometabolic health outcomes simultaneously.


At WSU, I lead the Health Equity and Anthropology Research (HEAR) Lab. To learn more about our work, please visit

I am currently interested in recruiting undergraduate and graduate students for ongoing community-based research projects. If you’re interested in working with me, please email me and we can set up a time to chat!

Selected Publications:

[For a full list of publications and publication links, please visit]

2023 Owens, C. (2023). Advancing Food is Medicine: Lessons from medical anthropology for public health nutrition. Perspectives in Public Health (forthcoming)

2023 Owens, C., & Hadley, C. (2023). Subjective social status and mental health among adolescents in Ethiopia: Evidence from a panel study. SSM- Population Health, 22, 101382.

2022 Belak, L., Owens, C., Smith, M. et al. (2022). The impact of medically tailored meals and nutrition therapy on biometric and dietary outcomes among food-insecure patients with congestive heart failure: a matched cohort study. BMC Nutrition, 8, 108.

2022 Owens, C., Weaver, L. J., Kaiser, B. N., Kalk, T., Tesema, F., Tessema, F., & Hadley, C. (2022). Context Matters for Food Security: Multi-Sited Evidence of Shared Cultural Models of Food Consumption. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 61(2), 162-181.

2022 Ocobock, C., Owens, C., Holdsworth, E., Gildner, T., & Lynn, C. (2022). # Hackademics: Hacks toward success in academia. American Journal of Human Biology, 34, e23653.

2021 Weaver, L. J., Owens, C., Tessema, F., Kebede, A., & Hadley, C. (2021). Unpacking the “black box” of global food insecurity and mental health. Social Science & Medicine, 282, 114042.




College Hall room 363