Achsah’s Projects

March 2020

Congratulations Dr. Achsah Dorsey! Achsah successfully defended her dissertation: Iron, Infection, and Malnutrition: An Exploration of Childhood Anemia in a Peri-Urban Community in Lima, Peru on Thursday, March 5th.

Fall 2019


Achsah received The Graduate and Professional Student Federation Travel Award to fund her visit to Vancouver, Canada later this month for the American Anthropological Association and Canadian Anthropological Society annual meeting. Achsah will be presenting her work on the panel “Syndemic Vulnerability and Entanglements of Food, Nutrition, and Health,” a session co-sponsored by the Society for Anthropology of Food and Nutrition and the Society for Medical Anthropology.

Achsah was invited to give a presentation about her dissertation research at the Chapel Hill-Durham P.E.O. Reciprocity Luncheon on November 2nd. She discussed her experience doing extended fieldwork in Peru, results from data analysis, and the importance of funding women conducting Anthropological and Social Science Research.


Achsah was selected to attend the two-day UNC Microbiome Data Analysis Workshop at the Friday Center. At the workshop she will have the chance to work closely with leading scholars in research computing, bioinformatics, and genomics.


The Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute invited Achsah to initiate their Fall 2019 discussion seminars! Achsah presented some of her dissertation findings with the FPG community followed by an engaging discussion of her work.

Summer 2019

Achsah received the Richard Bland Fellowship from the UNC Professional Pathways Program to support her summer internship validating digital biomarkers of perinatal stress in female carriers of Fragile X syndrome with RTI International.

Spring 2018


Achsah was selected to receive a $15,000 Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood for the 2019-2020 academic year. She was sponsored by Chapter X of Chapel Hill, NC. She was also awarded a Mellon Dissertation Grant from the Institute for the Study of the Americas.



At the Human Biology Association meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, Achsah presented her poster, Predictors of child iron deficiency anemia and response to oral iron supplementation in Lima, Peru. 



Achsah attended the North Carolina Conference on Latin American Studies conference in Chapel Hill North Carolina where she presented her paper, Seasonal patterns of hemoglobin: An exploration of childhood anemia in Lima, Peru.

November 2018

Achsah mid-presentation at the AAAs

Achsah attended the American Anthropological Association annual meeting in San Jose, California and presented her paper Alimentación y adaptación: Nutritional adaptation and iron consumption in preschool-age children in Lima, Peru on a panel for the Biological Anthropological Association.

Spring 2018


Achsah presented some preliminary results based on her ongoing fieldwork in her paper, Diet, Environment, and Iron: A biocultural investigation of anemia in Lima, Peru at the Latin American Studies Association XXXVI International Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Her conference travel was supported by the Federico Gil Fund in Latin American Studies and the Latin American Studies Association Individual travel grants.


Achsah was featured In: Iron woman crosses hemispheres to wipe out anemia, an article written by Dave Shaw for the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.


Congratulations to Achsah on her new article in the American Journal of Human Biology, Iron and Infection: An investigation of the optimal iron hypothesis in Lima, Peru. Achsah is currently in Lima completing her dissertation fieldwork. You can find her new article here: link

Dissertation Field Research: Fall 2017-Summer 2018

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright Program, Frank Porter Graham Institute, Sigma Xi, American Philosophical Society and the University of North Carolina, Achsah collected project data in Peru between September 2017 and July 2018. She chose to conduct my fieldwork in San Juan de Lurigancho (SJL), a district to the northeast of Lima because, despite several recent initiatives by the Peruvian Ministry of Health to reduce levels of anemia, rates of iron deficiency in this district have increased. Her work will be the basis for her three-article dissertation and will use evolutionary life history theory and mixed methods to explore 1) what is the overall prevalence and pattern of iron deficiency in SJL, 2) what general socioecological features explain high rates of iron deficiency, 3) what features found in iron deficient children’s household environments best predict whether children respond to iron supplementation or not and 4) how do children’s intestinal microbiomes interface with other factors that contribute to high anemia rates?

Spring 2017


At the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Human Biology Association (HBA) in New Orleans, LA in April,  Achsah presented a poster on the final results of her secondary data analysis, entitled: Iron and morbidity among toddlers in Lima, Peru.

March: Congratulations to Achsah!

Congrats to Achsah for successfully defending her proposal, “Iron, Infection, and Malnutrition in Lima, Peru.” We can’t wait to hear updates from your field work in Peru next year! Congrats on being ABD!


In February, Achsah organized a panel for the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies Annual Conference called Anthropological Investigations of the Relationship between Socioeconomic Conditions and Health. She also presented preliminary findings from her secondary data analysis work with the IIN in her talk, Iron and morbidity among toddlers in Lima, Peru.

Achsah with her colleagues and other panel members

Fall 2016

Achsah continued to develop an international, collaborative research affiliation at the IIN and worked closely with the director, Dr. Mary Penny, as well as her CPC preceptors, Drs. Amanda Thompson and Linda Adair to conduct secondary data analysis exploring the relationship between infectious disease and childhood anemia from an evolutionary medicine perspective. Funding for this analysis was provided by the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine Graduate Student Fellowship.

Summer 2016: 

After wrapping up her Spring 2016 semester Achsah travelled back to Lima. There, she began preparing an application for the Instituto de Investigación Nutricional (IIN) ethics review board for her future dissertation work. During the remainder of her time in Peru, Achsah took Spanish classes in

Local health center in Huascar

Miraflores to continue improving her Spanish proficiency and traveled to the district of San Juan de Lurigancho where she volunteered in the pediatric unit at a local health center. There, she assisted doctors and nurses with patient intake and descriptions of various childhood diseases. She also reviewed questionnaires and interview schedules used in past research conducted at the clinic to aid in the development of her own research materials. She was funded by the Institute for the Study of The Americas Pre-Dissertation Field Research Grant.

April 2016

In April, Achsah attended the 41st Annual Meeting of the Human Biology Association (HBA) in Atlanta, Georgia. She presented her poster, Food insecurity, maternal mental health, and child morbidity in Mwanza, Tanzania and was a contributing author on a second poster presentation, Cytomegalovirus antibody titers among young children in Mwanza, Tanzania: Interpretation and relationship to household conditions. Both presentations were based on data she collected in Mwanza, Tanzania for her MA thesis.

Achsah standing with one of her poster presentations

Summer 2015

With aid from the Institute for the Study of The Americas Pre-Dissertation Tinker Field Research and Harriet J. Kupferer Summer Exploratory Grants, Achsah spent part of her IMG_0128summer living in Lima, Peru, where she volunteered in La Molina five days a week at the Instituto de Investigación Nutricional (IIN), a private, non-profit institution dedicated to interdisciplinary research on health and nutrition in Peru. She assisted nutrition and child growth experts, Drs. Peggy Bentley (UNC), Hilary Creed-Kanishiro (IIN), and Mary Penny (IIN) with several ongoing projects looking at anemia and responsive feeding in children as well as a longitudinal study on child growth and development. Achsah also acted as a teaching assistant for an international nutrition course offered to undergraduate students from the United States, Canada, and Peru. Her duties as a teaching assistant included teaching a class on collecting anthropometric measurements.IMG_0127

Achsah also spent a portion of her summer traveling to the northern coastal and Andean areas in Peru. She had the opportunity to visit several communities and clinics in both the Lambayeque and the Valle Moche regions. During her visits, she conducted direct observation and informal interviews with mothers about their most significant health concerns.  This enabled her to gather information about local health priorities, which occasionally overlapped with broader national issues while also illuminating distinctions between individual communities. The data collecteIMG_0375d
will be used to develop her dissertation topic, potentially focusing on the relationship between household food insecurity, maternal depression symptoms, and the presence and absence of husbands/partners and the effects of these factors on child morbidity variables (specifically respiratory illness symptoms, diarrheal illness symptoms, and anemia)

May 2015

Congratulations to Achsah! 

Achsah was awarded a Predoctoral Traineeship at the Carolina Population Center at UNC for 2015-2020. The CPC trainee program brings together exceptional students and faculty from across campus focusing on population-related research.

Achsah with her two awards

We also congratulate Achsah for receiving two Outstanding Research for A Master’s Award from the University of Alabama and their Arts and Sciences Program. Her MA thesis is entitled Selected Successors: An Investigation of Sex-Differentiated Parental Care and Child Health Outcomes in Northwest Tanzania. Since arriving at UNC, Achsah expanded her focus on nutrition and infectious disease to Peru after learning that Peruvian southern coastal regions suffer from rates of anemia similar to those seen in Sub-Saharan Africa despite the absence of malaria.

Fall 2014

A big welcome to one of our newest Human Biology Lab members and UNC graduate student, Achsah Dorsey!

One of our newest Human Biology Lab members, Achsah Dorsey