Expertise and Interests
Biological Anthropology, human-environmental interactions, developmental systems theory,
political economy, social justice, health inequities, environmental health, Andes,
Dr. Kathryn Hicks completed her PhD in anthropology at Northwestern University in
2008. Her dissertation research examined norms of social support in the Bolivian city
of El Alto, particularly forms of economic or instrumental support, and evaluated
interactions between women’s marital status and access to social support in predicting
health outcomes such as immune function and body composition. Dr. Hicks joined the
Department of Anthropology at The University of Memphis in the fall of 2008. As a
compliment to the research projects described below, she is currently writing about
the intersection between political economy and evolutionary approaches grounded in
developmental plasticity. For example, Current Anthropology recently accepted for publication her co-authored paper entitled “Developmental Systems
and Inequality: Linking Evolutionary and Political Economic Theory in Biological Anthropology.
Dr. Hicks has worked on a number of projects in the Memphis area. Since 2011 she has
been collaborating with Dr. Katherine Lambert-Pennington to evaluate the social and
nutritional impact of the community-initiated South Memphis Farmers Market (SMFM),
and explore the unequal food landscape in Memphis. Dr. Hicks and her students have
engaged in service-learning with other faculty and a number of local non-profit and
community organizations on an evaluation of community perceptions of a proposed extension
to the Shelby Farms Greenline, neighborhood perceptions of environmental inequality
in SW Memphis, and an assessment of fresh food availability in local corner stores.
Students from her classes have also volunteered at the local Sierra Club’s annual
grassroots environmental justice conference.
Dr. Hicks has also continued her work in highland Bolivia since coming to Memphis.
In collaboration with Dr. Nicole Fabricant of Towson University, she is exploring
perceptions of climate change, social movement action and environmental policy in
the cities of El Alto and La Paz, and the role of Bolivians in multilateral climate
In Press Hicks, K and WR Leonard. Developmental Systems and Inequality: Linking Evolutionary
and Political Economic Theory in Biological Anthropology. Current Anthropology.
In Press Hicks, K. A Biocultural Perspective on Fictive Kinship in the Andes: Social
Support and Women’s Immune Function in El Alto, Bolivia. Medical Anthropology Quarterly.
2013 Hicks, K. Instrumental Social Support and Women’s Body Composition in El Also, Bolivia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 152(1): 51-57.
2013 Fabricant, N and K Hicks. Bolivia’s Next Water War: Historicizing the Struggles over Access to Water Resources
in the Twenty-First Century. Radical History Review. 116: 130-145.
2011 Wilson, WM, J Bulkan, BA Piperata, K Hicks, P Ehlers. Nutritional Status of Makushi Amerindian Children and Adolescents of Guyana. Annals of Human Biology. 38(5): 615-629.