ASU anthropologist heralded for exploring the science and social justice of mother’s milk

January 21, 2016

Arizona State University anthropologist Katie Hinde sees milk as more than food. For her, it is also personalized medicine and a carrier of information that affects immunity, brain function and metabolism in lasting ways.

Hinde was named to this year’s Grist 50 — a list of innovative individuals whose work points toward a better, more sustainable world — by Grist magazine. A scientist loads breast milk samples into a refrigerator ASU anthropologist Katie Hinde analyzes milk samples from across the globe, enhancing “precision nourishment” for the most fragile infants and children in neonatal and pediatric intensive-care units. Photo by Cary Allen-Blevins Download Full Image

“For a long time, we really took mother’s milk for granted,” Hinde said. “You can buy milk at the store. It just seems like a food item. That’s allowed this amazingly complex, fascinating adaptation — lactation — to hide in plain sight.

“Our nation does not mandate paid maternity leave, depriving many mothers from achieving their breastfeeding goals. This is a public health issue not only for infant health and well-being, but for maternal health and well-being. At the same time, for the babies who don’t have access to mother’s milk, there needs to be better artificial alternatives that reflect the state of the science.

“Some of the greatest global challenges — disease, childhood mortality and population growth — can be addressed, in part, through empowering women in their educational, economic and reproductive decisions,” she added. “Breast milk research is an integral aspect of this mission.”

Hinde, an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a member of the Center for Evolution & Medicine, is currently analyzing milk samples from across the globe. Insights from different places and diverse people allows us to “decode” mother’s milk. Such research will enhance “precision nourishment” for the most fragile infants and children in neonatal and pediatric intensive-care units.

Hinde’s work is not only being heralded by scientists but is also heavily followed on social media, including her popular blog Mammals Suck… Milk!, which translates her and colleagues’ work into engaging and relatable posts.

ASU global studies alum travels to Thailand to teach

January 22, 2016

Arizona State University's global studies major, within the School of Politics and Global Studies (SPGS), aims to address real-world problems and their solutions. For 2015 graduate Andrea Singer this means traveling abroad to teach English in Thailand.

During her time at ASU, Singer studied abroad in China and participated in the McCain Institute Policy and Design Program in Washington, D.C. While in the nation’s capital she also was able to intern with the U.S. Department of Defense at the National Defense University. Experiences like these gave her the assurance that she could pursue work abroad after graduation. Global Studies alumnus travels to Thailand to teach Download Full Image

“The School of Politics and Global Studies provided me with confidence and independence to try something new. I had no previous experience with Thailand before now, but I was able to utilize my heightened global awareness from my coursework and internships with SPGS to reassure myself that I could do it. In addition, SPGS provided me with enough career counseling and resources (i.e. resume and cover letter writing/editing, interview prep) that enabled me to land several different options after graduation.”

Working abroad can be challenging, especially when you don’t know the language but Singer’s relationship with her students makes it all worth it.

“Watching these kids improve and grow in their language skills has been the most rewarding part. I’ve become so close with some of them and I’ve come to realize that the student/teacher relationship can be so special. Those kids teach me way more than I could ever teach them.”

"The best advice I could give anyone who is looking to work abroad is to keep your mind open to any experience and do not underestimate yourself. Utilize the career resources and staff at SPGS — they can steer you in the right direction. Thailand was unexpected for me and I had no prior experience with it, but I wouldn’t trade my experience here for anything.”

After her time in Thailand, Andrea Singer plans on pursuing a master's in refugee studies and global security in order to aid in refugee asylum and resettlement. The School of Politics and Global Studies offers global experiences like this one every year through their Global Studies Internships.

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies