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 Associate Professor at the USC Institute on Inequalities in 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.