Michaela Howells
Alumni: Biological Anthropology

Michaela earned her PhD in 2013 focusing on reproduction and human biology. Her current research addresses the role of psychosocial stress in the pregnancy outcomes of women in American Samoa.

Michaela is primarily interested in how maternal social status and experiences impact neonate delivery characteristics. Her research utilizes ethnographic and biomarker data to determine the role of psychosocial stress on a woman's pregnancy outcomes. By working in conjunction with the women’s health specialists at the Department of Health and the LBJ Tropical Medical Center in American Samoa, Michaela was able to follow women from the initiation of their prenatal care to the conclusion of their pregnancy. Her research represents the first longitudinal and naturalistic study to address how psychosocial stress stemming from culture change and social status impacts pregnancy outcomes.

In addition to her current research, Michaela is interested in issues of women’s health and reproductive rights. Prior to her research with women in Polynesia, she worked with captive and free-living primates in Washington State, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Senegal and Tanzania.