MARTI launches its long-anticipated community health speaker series, "MARTI Speaker Series on Health and Disadvantaged Communities," this semester, spring 2016. The series highlights the work of researchers, health care providers, and community health specialists who are addressing health disparities in disadvantaged populations and their communities in the United States and abroad.

It is designed to interest and inform faculty and students who are interested in global and public health about the differences in health care among populations and the many barriers that some groups face in obtaining health care. The major goal of the series is to build awareness of these problems and to provide knowledge on how we can effect positive change in addressing health disparities. An equally important goal is to expose students interested in the health field to health care training and careers. The presentations are free and open to the public.

This semester the lecture series will focus on health disparities in the Latino community. Latinos, similar to other minority groups in the country, are an understudied and underserved population when it comes to health care. With a population of roughly 54 million, Latinos represent the largest minority group within the United States, yet they still experience a significant range of health disparities. These health disparities not only include health problems such as higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but also disparities in health care such as access to care, health insurance, and treatment. Studying the Latino population in terms of health care helps to bring an understanding to the health inequities that these communities face.

Dr. Carina Heckert will inaugurate the speaker series. Dr. Heckert, an IUP Cook Honors College alumna, graduated with a Bachelors in Anthropology in 2006 and returned to complete her Master's in Sociology in 2009. Upon completion of her master's, Dr. Heckert pursued a second master's degree in cultural anthropology at Southern Methodist University in addition to receiving her doctorate in medical anthropology this past year. She is currently a tenure-track assistant professor in the sociology and anthropology joint program at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Dr. Heckert's dissertation, "Do You Want to Live, or Do You Want to Die?': The Gendered Politics of Life During an AIDS Funding Crisis," involves her research with people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Her primary focus aims to identify how broader discourses on gender equality are shaping the everyday lives of PLWHA. In addition to HIV/AIDS research, Dr. Heckert's research interests include a variety of public health topics ranging from mental health among immigrants in the United States to LGBT rights and health care experiences in the United States and Bolivia.

Dr. Heckert's talk, "Applying Anthropology to Global Health: An Ethnography of Bolivia's AIDS Funding Crisis," was held on Monday, February 29, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. in the new Humanities and Social Sciences building, room 126.

The following speaker in the series is Gilberto Lopez, a doctoral student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at the Harvard School of Public Health. Gilberto Lopez received his MA in medical anthropology from Southern Methodist University and his MPH from John Hopkins University. His research has focused on a number of health concerns among Latino immigrants, including depression and migration in a Mixteco migrant community, cancer screening communication, diabetes and migration, sexuality and HIV, and cardiovascular disease. As demonstrated in past research, he is interested in political economy and social determinants of health and how they play a role in the formation of conceptualizations, attitudes, and behaviors of health and illness among marginalized populations.

Gilberto Lopez's talk, "Social Determinants of Immigrant Health: How Place Matters," was held on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. in the new Humanities and Social Sciences building, room 126.