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Amy Dao

Anthropologist Amy Dao works on public health issues ranging from health care in immigrant communities and healthcare in marginalized communities, to the availability and adoption of health insurance in Vietnam. She is interested in the social and structural conditions that shape health and health care.


She has been conducting a multiyear project on multigenerational households which documents the life stories of families consisting of children, parents, and grandparents as they navigate infection risk, shelter-in-place orders, health care needs and structural vulnerabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.


To give all of her students the opportunity giving students the chance to participate in research and see how ethnographic research can address current real-world issues, students in her Anthropology Methods class conducted interviews with people living in multi-generational households to learn how they navigate healthcare and health safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Students learned the ethics of research involving human subjects and the skills to conduct participant observation, in-depth interviewing, cultural material analysis and data analysis. They also begin to understand how structural inequities result in poorer health outcomes for disenfranchised communities.

Recent Grants and Fellowships:

  • National Science Foundation Early-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) RUI, “How Do Multigenerational Households Provide Care, Manage Risk and Negotiate Infectious Disease Safety during the Pandemic?” $127,355, (2021-present)
  • Cal Poly Pomona College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, 2021-2022 Jose A. Gomez Faculty Excellence Award
  • University of California Humanities Research Institute, Podcast Support Grant, for the podcast “Healthy Disruption” in partnership with UC Riverside’s Center for Health Disparities Research, $5000 (2021-present)
  • Cal Poly Pomona, Exceptional Service to Students, course release, (2021)
  • Cal Poly Pomona, Special Projects for Improving the Classroom Experience (SPICE) grant, “Enhancing Social Research through NVivo: A Qualitative and Mixed-Methods Analysis Software,” $24,480 (2019-2022)
  • Cal Poly Pomona; Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA) grant; “The Social Construction and Interpretations of Health Insurance in Post-Socialist Vietnam”; $7,061 (2018-2019)
  • Columbia University Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Jack Elinson Award for a published article of outstanding merit – Dao, Amy and Juliet McMullin, “Unintentional Injury, Supervision, and Discourses on Childproofing,” Medical Anthropology (2018)
  • Columbia University Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund Academic Year Fellowship, $34,000, (2017-2018)
  • National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), $126,000 (2013-2017) (DGE 16-44869)

Selected Publications:

  • Calculating care: the valuation of medical routes while health seeking in Vietnam,” Journal of Social Economy, 1-16, 2023
  • What It Means to Say ‘I Don’t Have Any Money to Buy Health Insurance’ in Rural Vietnam: Anticipatory Activities as a Factor in Enrollment,” Social Science and Medicine (226): 113335 [Open Access], 2020
  • “ Imagining Insurance: Everyday Illustrations from Vietnam’s Campaign for Universal Health Coverage,” Journal of Vietnamese Studies 15 (4): 99-109, 2020
  • With J McMullin, “Unintentional Injury, Supervision, and Discourses on Childproofing,” Medical Anthropology 38(1): 15-29, 2019
  • With J. Mulligan, “Towards an Anthropology of Insurance and Health Reform: An Introduction to the Special Issue,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 30(1): 5-17, 2016
  • With M. Nichter, “The Social Life of Health Insurance: An Anthropological Agenda,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 30(1): 122-143, 2016
  • With Vu D. K., Hoang V. M., Kim B. G., Le T. T. and N. Ng; “Socioeconomic inequalities in catastrophic health expenditure and impoverishment associated with non-communicable diseases in urban Hanoi, Vietnam”; International Journal for Equity in Health 15(169), 2016
  • With Vu D. K., Hoang V. M., Kim B. G., L. Weinehall, M. Eriksson, N. Ng; “Socioeconomic inequalities in self-reported chronic non-communicable diseases in urban Hanoi, Vietnam”; Global Public Health DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2015.1123282; 2016
  • With J. McMullin, “Watching as an ordinary affect: Care and mothers’ preemption of injury in child supervision,” Subjectivity 7: 171-189, 2014
  • With J. Hirsch, L.M. Giang and R. Parker; “Social Science Research on HIV in Vietnam: A Critical Review”; Global Public Health 8(S1):S7-S29, 2013
  • With Le M. G., Nguyen H. M., Nguyen T. A.; “Nghiên cứu Khoa Học Xã Hôi về HIV/AIDS: Những Đóng Góp Bước Đầu từ Hợp Tác STAR (Social Science Research on HIV/AIDS in Vietnam: Contributions from STAR Partnership)”; Journal of Family and Gender Studies 22(6):59–63. NIHMSID: NIHMS426771; 2012



B.S., Anthropology, University of California, Riverside

M.A. & Ph.D., Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology, Columbia University


Vietnamese: Fluent in reading, writing, speaking

Spanish: Basic

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