Meet Patrick Mbullo Owuor, assistant professor of anthropology and public health

Wayne State's Department of Anthropology and the Department of Public Health welcome Dr. Patrick Mbullo Owuor to the faculty!

Dr. Patrick Mbullo Owuor holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Anthropology from York University, Canada. He's a biocultural anthropologist whose work lies at the intersection between culture, biology and the environment. He joins Wayne State University as an assistant professor of anthropology and public health. Patrick Owuor

Patrick's Ph.D. dissertation, Dams and Displacements: Biosocial Impacts of the Thwake Multipurpose Dam Construction on Women in Makueni County, Kenya, examined the psychosocial, nutritional and physical health impacts of dam construction on women in Makueni County, Kenya. A significant contribution of this work is the assessment of the individual-level biosocial implications of infrastructure development on socially and economically marginalized groups.

Patrick has a long-standing commitment to collaborative and community-based participatory research. He has been involved in numerous public health interventions to address global health issues, including health disparities in contemporary marginalized populations, especially women and children. Patrick is also a co-founder and executive director of the Pamoja Community-Based Organization, a non-profit in Kenya that works with vulnerable communities to identify and address the most significant needs affecting their well-being. While at Pamoja, Patrick focuses on community health programming, implementation science, research and development and experiential learning for students interested in global health.

Patrick recently completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at York University, Canada. While at York, his work focused on the ethics of biobanking in clinical trials in East Africa and pediatric neuro disability in Kenya. He also got awarded a Wenner-Gren Foundation workshop grant. His work from this grant culminated in his recent work on Hydrocolonialism. He has since co-founded the Hydrocolonialism Institute, a multidisciplinary initiative hosted at the University of California, Berkeley. The institute aims to advance humanistic horizontal and vertical communication approaches critical in providing frameworks for addressing structural and environmental inequalities.

Owuor in field

This summer (2023) Patrick led a team of collaborators in conducting a Hydrocolonialism workshop (traveling forum and exhibition) in Makueni, Kenya, where they explored the lived experiences with water extraction, infrastructure and water heritages among communities in time and space. The workshop brought various government officials and policymakers into dialogue with communities on water-related critical issues using art media, in-depth interviews and community dialogues. For Patrick, these lessons will be instrumental in engaging with the community in Detroit and responding to water and environmental-related issues in Michigan.

WSU's commitment to diversity and community service are some of the values that inspire Patrick. He hopes that his wealth of knowledge in global health and his experience in community health programming will be invaluable assets to the anthropology and public health departments and help advance WSU as a global leader in academic excellence.

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