Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi, PhD is an Assistant Research Professor and medical anthropologist at the Social Science Research Center. Read-Wahidi joined the SSRC in 2015 after receiving her PhD in Biocultural Medical Anthropology at The University of Alabama. Her funders include USAID, CDC, and university-level grantors and her geographic experience includes Ghana, Kuwait, Mexico, and the U.S. Her perspective as a biocultural medical anthropologist focuses on the ways culture affects health; specifically, how cultural experiences and knowledge result in measurable physical and psychological health outcomes, especially among minority and rural populations. She has more than 10 years’ experience conducting health disparities research among rural and migrant populations and agricultural workers on psychosocial stress, barriers to healthcare, gender equity and empowerment, food security, sexual risk and teen pregnancy prevention, and culturally informed evaluations, and she utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods in her research.
Read-Wahidi is Co-PI on the Focus 4 Teens Evaluation Team (K Ragsdale, PI), a CDC-funded project lead by Mississippi First that aims to improve sexual health and reduce the alarmingly high rate of pregnancies among vulnerable teens in the Mississippi Delta by expanding access to teen-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. Read-Wahidi has also developed a line of research among Mexican immigrants in rural Mississippi related to negative health effects of immigration stress, as well as culturally-specific coping strategies that increase wellbeing among Mexican immigrants, including religious devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. In addition, Read-Wahidi is Senior Research Scientist on the Socioeconomic/Gender Equity Research (SGER) Team (K Ragsdale, Co-PI), part of the 5-year USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Laboratory for Soybean Value Chain Research (SIL). Through her work on the SGER team, Read-Wahidi and is contributing to the understanding of how gender equity and other sociocultural factors within the agricultural sector differentially impact men and women smallholder farmers in rural Northern Ghana in order to help transition rural women farmers, their families, and their communities towards better food security, health, and economic development.