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Four highly promising Carolina faculty members in diverse fields have been awarded the Philip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty.

The recipients, who were recognized at the Sept. 8 Faculty Council meeting, are: Mara Buchbinder, associate professor in the Department of Social Medicine; James Cahoon, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry; Spencer L. Smith, associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology; and Stephanie B. Wheeler, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy Management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Buchbinder, who is also adjunct associate professor of anthropology and a core faculty member in the UNC Center for Bioethics, has published on a range of critical issues that hold significance for medicine, the social sciences and bioethics.

Much of her research explores the sociocultural and ethical dimensions of clinical encounters in the United States, with a particular interest in the role of language in medicine.  Her recent work focuses on how patients, families, and healthcare providers navigate social and ethical challenges resulting from changes in medical technology, law, and health policy.

She is the author of two books, Saving Babies? The Consequences of Newborn Genetic Screening (with UCLA sociology professor Stefan Timmermans, 2013, University of Chicago Press) and All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain (2015, University of California Press).

Buchbinder joined the Carolina faculty in 2010 after receiving her her Ph.D in anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She was selected for a Greenwall Faculty Scholars Award (2015-2018), a career development award that enables junior faculty to carry out innovative bioethics research.

Jonathan Oberlander, professor and chair of Social Medicine, said Buchbinder’s scholarship is “original, impactful and noteworthy for its remarkable blend of social science theory and ethical inquiry with careful empirical investigation.”

“Dr. Buchbinder has investigated intimate contexts of suffering and care, family dynamics, and local clinical cultures,” Oberlander said “She has chosen to work on problems of vital importance to medical care delivery, illness experiences, health care ethics and policy.”

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