Dr. Laura Heinemann, Chair, Associate Professor, Medical Anthropology


 Creighton Hall 427

Office Phone

402 280-2302



Mail Address

Laura Heinemann, PhD
Department of Cultural and Social Studies
Creighton Hall 
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 67178-0450

Professional vitae

Since joining the department in 2011, I've enjoyed integrating into my teaching and research my central interests in medical anthropology, kin relationships, and home-based caregiving in the context of high-tech biomedical health care.  My roots actually go deeper than my time as a faculty member, though, as I attended Creighton as an undergraduate major in this very department! 

In addition to medical anthropology, my background also includes hospital-based social work. In my Master’s of Social Work field placement, as part of my interdisciplinary graduate training in the Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Anthropology at The University of Michigan, I worked primarily with adult inpatients and their families on a physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital unit. It was there that I first became inspired to conduct ethnographic fieldwork which bridges clinical settings and private home spaces in the U.S. Midwest. 

I recently published my first book, Transplanting Care: Shifting Commitments in Health and Care in the U.S. (Rutgers University Press, 2016). In it, I examine everyday life and kin relationships among organ transplant patients and caregivers throughout the transplant process. 

My work also has begun to extend in new directions:

As part of an interdisciplinary research team, I worked with faculty, students, and community partners on a qualitative study of social capital among members of refugee communities in Omaha.

More recently, I also joined an interdisciplinary and interprofessional endeavor, funded by the Creighton Global Initiative, to better understand parents’ and caregivers’ perceptions of their role in the outpatient occupational, physical, and speech/language therapeutic process. We also seek to examine and facilitate the development of intercultural competence among health professional and medical anthropology students.

Further, I am collaborating with an undergraduate student and Nebraska Appleseed, a local community partner, on research intended to shed light on agency, empowerment, and advocacy among individuals affected by gaps in the U.S. health care system.

In addition to these new directions in research, I also now co-teach a summer course called “Public Health and Social Justice in Haiti,” in which Professor Emeritus of Justice and Peace Studies Dr. Roger Bergman and I bring a small group of Creighton students to Haiti each June, in collaboration with Carla Bluntschli and her colleagues at the N a Sonje Foundation (http://www.wewillrememberhaiti.org/) in Gwo Jan.

And finally, as Chair of the Department of Cultural and Social Studies – a truly interdisciplinary department – I feel privileged every day to work closely with faculty, staff, and students to explore and elevate the synergies between our interrelated fields of cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, social work, justice and peace studies, criminal justice, sociology, and health administration and policy.