Karis Hawkins

Undergraduate Student

What is your area of research or expertise that you bring to the Landscapes collaboration?
I am a public health student with interests in social epidemiology and Black Americans’ health. My background previous to joining Landscapes Lab was in biochemical research, I have taken skills and knowledge learned from that experience and applied it to both my undergraduate public health experience and to Landscapes.

What do you find challenging or exciting about interdisciplinary collaboration?
I find it incredibly exciting to be learning so much about different research projects and papers. Being able to learn from incredibly accomplished and knowledgeable people about a variety of topics connected to health, racism, segregation, and other interdisciplinary projects has made me a more well-rounded public health student and researcher.
What’s one common misconception about your area of research that you’d like to dispel?
I think one misconception about public health research broadly is that it’s all about statistics and vaccines.  This research is about going deeper and combining a wealth of knowledge to understand and identify the root of the population health disparities we already know about.  
How did you become interested in structural racism and health?
I have always been interested in how health disparities disproportionately impact black Americans, once I became a public health student and a part of Landscapes I have been able to learn more about the intricate ways in which racism and structural racism are direct mediators for health and health outcomes. I am excited about using that knowledge to identify and inform solutions to improve health outcomes.
What’s the academic path that brought you to where you are now?
I started college as a pre-med student hoping to change health disparities for black Americans as a doctor with direct patient interactions. Once I learned public health was a field of study that directly researched the causes of those health disparities as well as the ways racism affects health that became my path of interest. Research has always been a part of my academic interest and being a part of Landscapes has been an amazing opportunity to learn about different approaches to structural racism and the research and perspectives within different disciplines.
If you had the opportunity to get one question answered by an omniscient being, what would you ask? (this is meant to be a lighthearted question–we’re trying to get to the heart of what you are most curious about, whether within your field of research or beyond! Feel free to think big!)
I would ask what we can do to remind people of the inherent goodness of the world, is there a way to create a society that does not depend on race and our differences to divide us?
Anything else you want to share?
I am so glad to be a part of such an amazing experience and to be able to learn from such a knowledgeable group of people.