Dr. Suzanne Oakdale Receives 2021-2021 Women in STEM Award

Departmental News

Posted:  Jun 16, 2021 - 12:00pm

Dr. Suzanne Oakdale has received a 2021-2022 Women in STEM Award from UNM Advance for her project Claiming Celiac: Narratives of Illness and the Creation of New Worlds.  The work looks at the experiences of people diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition affecting about 1.4 percent of the population.

Dr. Oakdale notes, “Because Celiac requires a diet completely free from gluten contamination, it forces sufferers to continually identify as such. As they do, they must also navigate several undesirable social identities, in addition to the stigma of disease. While many do not wish to be defined by their disease, some take it on fully as part of their social personas. This project focuses on adults who publicly claim celiac, those who have made gluten intolerance part of their social identity or even, in some cases, “their brand” in various food service businesses and blogs/vlogs.”

According to the proposal, “the focus is on individuals’ relationship to their medical condition and their structuring of sociality, as these are evidenced in their autobiographical narratives and ethnographic observation of the gluten-free environments they have created.”