Dr. Caitlyn Placek received a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Anthropology from Eastern Kentucky University. She went on to receive an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washington State University. Following the completion of her PhD, she served as a Postdoctoral Fogarty Fellow with the National Institutes of Health. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology at Ball State University.
As both a biocultural and medical anthropologist, the core of Dr. Placek's research relies on quantitative, qualitative, and biological data to test evolutionary hypotheses of consumption (food and other substances) among pregnant and reproductive-aged women. Her PhD research focused on food aversions, cravings, and avoidances among three populations in South India. Her research contributed to current debates in anthropology by testing the extent to which these behaviors were culturally and/or biologically evolved responses to environmental conditions, or functioned as self-medication techniques in periods of resource stress. She has been working on this line of research in South India since 2011, and to date, has published her findings in leading anthropology journals, such as Evolution and Human Behavior, Human Nature, and American Journal of Human Biology.
Dr. Placek also conducts research in the realm of Global Health. She has collaborated on research projects focusing on anemia, HIV, and tobacco use. This research has led to publications in journals such as BMC Infectious Diseases, Public Health, and Midwifery.
Dr. Placek is conducting ongoing, collaborative research in Delaware County, Indiana, with Dr. Jean Marie Place and Dr. Jennifer Wies on multilevel predictors of opioid use in pregnancy and the post-partum period. This project relies on a biocultural approach, is student-driven, and will have applied community impact.