Dr. Sorensen is currently involved in research projects in Ecuador and Siberia:
A Cross-Cultural Study of Integration to the Market and Indigenous Health in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
This project is a 3-year, NSF funded project in collaboration with Flora Lu, an anthropologist at UC Santa Cruz. Ecuador’s Amazon houses extraordinary levels of plant and animal biodiversity, plays a key role in global climate processes and carbon cycles, and supports the physical and cultural survival of indigenous and traditional forest people. However, because of petroleum exploitation, colonization, infrastructure development, urbanization, and land clearing for agriculture and cattle ranching, Ecuador has had the highest rate of deforestation in the entire Amazon Basin since 1990. These processes have also led indigenous populations to become increasingly involved in the market economy, with profound economic, health, and cultural implications. This project will determine the health consequences of increasing integration to the market (abbreviated MI) among a cross-cultural sample of five native Amazonian populations of northeastern Ecuador. Our research aims are to: (1) investigate variation in health, and (2) examine the mechanisms through which MI influences health through reciprocity networks, mobility, diet, and access to and use of medical care. Our project integrates ecological, cultural, and biological anthropology and includes focus groups, cultural domain analysis, dietary intake interviews, and time allocation as well as anthropometric assessment and biomarkers of current infection and anemia.
Lifestyle, Stress and risk for the metabolic syndrome in Indigenous Siberians.
This project focuses on the impacts of the post-socialist transition on the health and well-being of Siberian reindeer herders. I collaborating with researchers in Russia to investigate changing household subsistence strategies among Evenki, Eveny and Sakha (Yakut) herders. In this project we are investigating the role of economic status and subsistence activities on psychosocial stress and measures of health and immune function in the circumpolar environment. The goal of the project is to understand the health consequences of rapid social and cultural changes, and to determine the mechanisms through which social and cultural processes affect health and human biology.