By Jose Franco
Stephanie Maroney, Ph.D.
Stephanie recently completed her Ph.D. in the Cultural Studies Graduate Group at UC Davis with a Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research. Her dissertation "Eat for your microbes: Reimagining Diet, Health, and Subjectivity in the Probiotic Present" analyzes how the science of the human microbiome shapes advice about what to eat and how to engage with our multi-species bodies.
Stephanie's interest in the human microbiome is shaped by her research in the fields of science and technology studies and food studies. Her past research investigates the social impacts of nutrition science, and food as material culture. Stephanie is mentored in this work by her advisor Charlotte Biltekoff, who is joint-appointed in the Department of American Studies and Department of Food Science and Technology. At UC Davis, Stephanie has also worked at the Foods for Health Institute (FFHI) and the Feminist Research Institute (FRI) as a website content editor managing all communications and administrative support.
"I really enjoy working in interdisciplinary spaces, and bringing different questions and perspectives to bear on complex topics like the human microbiome," Stephanie said. We discussed her many experiences working in interdisciplinary teams, including FFHI, FRI, and in a UC-wide Graduate Working Group called MicrobioSocial: Theorizing Human and Microbial Relations that she organized with a grant from the UC Humanities Research Institute.
We also discussed her work at the Feminist Research Institute and how she spotlights the range of feminist research happening at UC Davis.
"At FRI, we have a similar model to the Microbiome SRP in the sense that we organize efforts to bring together faculty around a specific cause (like microbiome), but our commitment is towards social justice and gender equity along with the potential of feminism to transform academic research," she explained. As she states on her personal website, "I'm most happy in a collaborative mix with other curious, critical, and conscentious folks working towards a more just world."
With her Ph.D. now in hand, Stephanie plans to publish her research on microbiome dietary advice, investigations into the "ancestral" human microbiome, and food fermentation practices. We discussed potential areas of interest for microbiome work here at UC Davis, like social impacts of "microbiomania," and critical analysis of how the microbiome is being incorporated into the promises of precision medicine.