As co-director for Obesity Solutions, Brewis Slade is responsible for an ambitious integrated program that combines research, testing, and outreach to reduce obesity risk in Arizona and beyond. The core projects seek solutions both within and outside of the traditional academic or medical realm, including through such means as new technology development, leveraging media, public-private partnerships, and business start-ups.
A social scientist, Brewis Slade’s own research is concerned with the general problem of how culture affects human biology. She has a PhD in Anthropology from University of Arizona (1992), and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. Over the last two decades she has lead field studies focused on the social dimensions of obesity in many parts of the world including Pacific Islands, Mexico, and rural and urban US. Her recent publications include the book Obesity: Cultural and biocultural perspectives.
Her most recent work on obesity is focused on biocultural impacts of obesity stigma. The Small World/Big Bodies project looks at the socio-cultural dimensions of the growing obesity epidemic globally, integrating evidence from field studies conducted in multiple developed and developing countries, including the ASU campus, to understand how and why obesity stigma appears to be spreading and the implications this has for human disease and emotional suffering. She is currently developing new projects related to how stigma and other aspects of social identity shape long-term outcomes of bariatric surgery.
In addition to her work in Obesity Solutions, Brewis Slade also directs ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) and serves as Associate Vice President for Social Sciences. She currently teaches in ASU’s Anthropology and Global Health programs, trains students in the Culture, Health and Environment Laboratory, and is a passionate promoter of all forms of experiential education, including study abroad and research apprenticeships. In 2013, she was inaugurated as an ASU President’s Professor in recognition of her career achievements as an educator-scholar.