New faculty profile: Joshua Garoon studies international development and health

JGaroon1Joshua Garoon recently joined the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology as an assistant professor. Previously he was an instructor at the University of Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2009.

Briefly describe your career path up to this point.
I’ve been interested in doing something related to health since I was in high school, but it wasn’t until a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia that I started thinking about the connections between public health, international development, and the environment. That led me to the Master of Public Health program at Johns Hopkins. After a brief flirtation with the idea of applying to medical school, I decided on a different doctoral route, and remained at Hopkins for my PhD and postdoc. That was great in and of itself — but more importantly, I met my wife, Michal (Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology), during my first year of my doctoral program. The twists and the turns of the job market led us to Madison, and we couldn’t be happier.

What is the main focus of your research program?
I study the ways in which health, development, and the environment intersect across Africa and the United States, and how those intersections manifest in health inequalities at the local level. I’m particularly interested in how health inequalities are shaped by global, national, and local stakeholders’ attempts to define and act on community and neighborhood resources; in short, I investigate environmental governance. My work cuts across anthropology, sociology, and epidemiology, and my projects in both Africa and the U.S. employ a community-engaged research framework.

What drew you to UW-Madison? 
UW-Madison’s a perfect fit for my research and teaching interests. The Department of Community & Environmental Sociology, the Nelson Institute, the African Studies Program, the Global Health Institute (and that’s just a short list, really): they all support exactly the sort of interdisciplinary work that I aim to do. I was especially excited by the warm, collegial atmosphere of my department; I felt part of a vibrant, inclusive community from the start. And, of course, Madison’s a great place to live, work, play, and start a family.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m a huge baseball fan. (I missed Mallards season this summer, but I’m looking forward to 2014.) I spend a lot of time with our dog, Ziggy. I’m looking forward to getting back into the biking groove I established during my fieldwork in Zambia, and when the bike trails are buried, I think I’d like to learn to snowshoe. Michal and I also love to cook, and I mix a mean Negroni.

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