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Mellissa Withers, PhD


Program Manager (APRU Global Health Program)

Mellissa Withers received her Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles, USA in 2009 with an emphasis on medical anthropology. Her dissertation was related to fertility intentions in Bali, Indonesia, where she lived for 15 months. She also holds a Master’s in Health Sciences from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Her Master’s concentration was Health Systems Management. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. degree in Global Development.

She is currently an Assistant Clinic Professor at the USC Institute for Global Health, where she teaches global health-related courses. She also works as an independent health research consultant. Her current research focuses on global reproductive health and women’s empowerment, including human trafficking, preventing unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS prevention among sex workers in Asia, and engaging male partners in family planning in sub-Saharan Africa. Other research interests include community participatory research; cultural competency; qualitative methodology; border, migrant, and refugee health; and how culture influences health-seeking behavior.  Prior to coming to USC, she taught at UCLA in the Department of Anthropology and other universities throughout California.

She has traveled to more than 50 countries and has lived in Mexico, Costa Rica and Indonesia. She enjoys salsa dancing, kayaking and yoga.



Withers, M., Dworkin, S., Harrington, E., Kwena, Z., Onono, M., Bukusi, E.B., Cohen, C.R.,  Newmann, S.J.“Fertility Intentions among Kenyan Couples after HIV diagnosis: a qualitative investigation.” (2013) Culture, Health and Sexuality (accepted for publication May 2013)

Withers, M., Browner, C. and Aghaloo, T. (2013) “Promoting Volunteerism in Global Health: Lessons from a Medical Mission in Northern Mexico.” Journal of Community Health, 38(2):374-84.

Tavrow, P, Withers, M., Obbuyi, A. Omollo, V. and Wu, E. (2013) “Rape myth attitudes in rural Kenya: Towards the development of a culturally-relevant attitude scale and “blame index.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence,e-published ahead of print.

Tavrow, P., Withers, M., and McMullen, K. (2012) “Age matters: Differential impact of service quality on contraceptive uptake among post-abortion clients in Kenya.” Culture, Health and Sexuality, 14(8):849-62

Withers, M. and Browner, C. (2012) “The changing context of fertility intentions: a longitudinal study from Bali, Indonesia” Culture, Health and Sexuality,14(3):347-60.  

Withers, M; Tavrow, P; Abe, D. (2012) “Who meets their intentions to stop childbearing?  Results of a longitudinal study in rural Eastern Bali, Indonesia.” Health Care for Women International, 33(9): 814-832. 

Withers, M.; Tavrow, P.; Adinata, A. (2011) “Do ambivalent women have an unmet need for family planning?  A longitudinal study from Bali, Indonesia.” Women’s Health Issues, 21(6): 444-449.

Withers, M; Kano, M.; Pinatih, G.N. (2010) “Desire for more children, contraceptive use and unmet need for family planning in a remote area of Bali, Indonesia.” Journal of Biosocial Science. 42(4): 549-62.

Withers, M; Dornig, K; Morisky, D.E. (Sept 2007) “Predictors of Sexual Health Policy in Sex Establishments in the Philippines”,  AIDS Care, 19(8); 1020-1025.