University of Pittsburgh
My name is Darius Bittle-Dockery and I am applying to be a Student Member of the Board of Directors for the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). I am confident that my diverse professional background, leadership experience, and the real-world application of my anthropological training has positioned me as an ideal candidate for this role.
I am currently a PhD/MPH candidate in Medical Anthropology and Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. My research lies at the nexus between science and technology studies and public health. Specifically, I examine how the information ecology within the Jordanian humanitarian health system affects the ability of Syrian refugees to effectively manage their chronic illnesses. My research sites and topic demand that I consistently engage with a variety of stakeholders, including both refugees and aid workers, to not only gather my own data, but also to supply them with actionable information as my research uncovered new insights.
I am committed to conducting engaged scholarship and using my positions and capacities to identify novel areas of intervention that can help address social determinants of health within the lives of refugees. I also aim to advocate for other groups marginalized by similar social, political, and health inequities. As a Student Member of the SfAA Board of Directors, I will be similarly committed to working with SfAA's members, especially those typically underrepresented in the discipline. I will work to address their concerns, and advocate not only for their needs, but the greater anthropological community's as well.
Throughout my graduate career, I have continuously taken on professional positions and various leadership roles that support similar aspirations. Outside of academia, I have applied my anthropological skill set through volunteer and contract work with local non-profit organizations and international NGOs to help them to effectively conduct and use ethnographic studies to drive the design and delivery of their programs and policies. Within my university, I helped establish the Anthropology Department's "Hot Metal Bridge" Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship program—designed to help talented students from traditionally underrepresented groups bridge the gap between an undergraduate degree and a graduate training program. Similarly, my most formative and rewarding position was serving as the Undergraduate Advisor for the Anthropology Department. In that capacity, I mentored young anthropology scholars about how anthropology could serve them within their personal lives and about how applying that knowledge could enable them to help others as well.
During my tenure as a SfAA Board Member, I will look to further promote non-traditional career options that enable anthropologist to use their skills to solve the world’s most pressing problems. From the current Covid-19 pandemic to encroaching climate change, the world is enveloped within compounding crises set to increase disparities across the globe. Through my professional work and applied research, I believe in the value and utility of applied anthropological methods for solving this myriad of complex problems. Anthropology is well positioned to address these issues through its unique ability to connect policies, programming, and action to the actual needs and lived experiences of the people they are meant to serve.
In my capacity as a Student Member of the SfAA Board of Directors, I will continue my proven track record as a scholar, leader, and advocate for the increasing importance of applied anthropological work. As someone who has consistently attained a high level of success in my personal and professional pursuits, I am confident that my academic, professional, and personal experiences will enable me to immediately contribute to, and hopefully build upon, the already prestigious work of the Society for Applied Anthropology. I thank you in advance for your consideration.