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Education: Dr. Margo-Lea Hurwicz received her Ph.D. in Behavioral Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1982. In 1985-86, she had postdoctoral training at the University of Southern California in Social Gerontology. She joined UMSL in fall, 1990, and has a joint appointment in the Anthropology department and the Gerontology Program.
Research and Teaching: Dr. Hurwicz has done fieldwork in Mexico, Guatemala, the United States (Los Angeles and Chicago), Hong Kong, and Beijing. She is interested in culture, health, and aging; qualitative and quantitative research methods; and Hispanic and Chinese cultures. At UMSL, she teaches the Practicum in Cultural Research Methods, Growing Old in Other Cultures, and Medical Anthropology. She also teaches two graduate courses in Gerontology: Cultural Aspects of Aging and Aging and Health Behavior, which are open to advanced undergraduates with the consent of the instructor.
Personal History: Dr. Hurwicz was born in Ames, Iowa, the daughter of a culturally-mixed marriage that occurred when her parents met in graduate school. Her father, a Jewish survivor of a World War II labor camp in Russia, had the chance to come to college in the U.S. after the war. Her mother is the daughter of immigrants from Czechoslovakia. Dr. Hurwicz's interest in cultural relativism as a world view comes from trying to figure out why her grandparents all saw the world in such different ways. She majored in anthropology at Bryn Mawr because she was impressed by the work of the anthropology professors there, including Frederica de Laguna, a former student of Franz Boas, the founder of American anthropology. She continued her graduate studies at UCLA with the guidance of Walter Goldschmidt, Robert Edgerton, Allan Johnson and Clyde Woods.
Professional Activities: In 1992, she received a 2-year Shannon Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Aging (NIA). This grant was for the development of her cutting-edge idea of applying techniques from cognitive anthropology to understanding the healthcare behavior of the elderly. In 1993, she received a 5-year FIRST award, a major NIH award to support early career development. In 1995, she expanded her research program to include the Chinese elderly. She has conducted health decision research in Los Angeles among elders of different ethnic groups and in Chicago with elderly Mexican and Puerto Rican immigrants, and in Hong Kong and Beijing with Chinese elders. Her goal is to build cognitive models of health and illness and decision models of treatment choices. In 1998 she received a grant from the Eastern Missouri Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation to apply these techniques to the study of "Older Adults, Ordinary Aches and Osteoarthritis." She has also become active in the local fundraising activities of the foundation.