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Bettina Shell-Duncan, Ph.D, University of Washington

Lead Researcher

Bettina Shell-Duncan is a biocultural anthropologist with a Ph.D, in Anthropology (The Pennsylvania State University, 1994). She is currently a Professor of Anthropology and Adjunct Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington. She has extensive research experience on social and biological determinants of maternal and child health, working primarily in Africa. She has participated in teams conducting research on health issues including undernutrition, iron and vitamin A deficiency, immune function, health-related behavior change, and prevention of HIV transmission in sero-discordant couples.

Additionally, over the last 14 years she has published widely on the topic of female genital cutting/mutilation, both as an independent researcher and as an academic consultant for the World Health Organization and UNICEF. She participated in a working group that developed the 2007 Joint UN Policy Statement on FGM, and led the WHO research initiative on behavior change with respect to FGM by completing a 3 year mixed methods study entitled “Contingency and Change I the Practice of Female Genital Cutting: Dynamics of Decision Making in Senegambia.” She is the co-editor (with Ylva Hernlund) of two volumes: Female Circumcision in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2000) and Transcultural Bodies: Female Genital Cutting in Global Context (Rutgers University Press 2007). And recently she authored the 2013 UNICEF report, “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change.” This report summarizes data from more than70 nationally representative surveys (DHS and MICS) implemented over a 20 year period, interpreting findings from a social norms perspectives. Shell-Duncan has extensive experience in the design of social science research, including mixed methods study designs. She has offered trainings, both full-length university courses and short courses, focused on grant writing, research methods in the social sciences, study design, the use of qualitative methods in health research, and integrated mixed methods data analysis.

Institution: University of Washington
Unit: International Consultative Committee