Monthly Archives: May 2024

Working towards sustainability in the doula workforce

Studies have shown that birthing mothers paired with doulas have better birth outcomes than mothers that do not work with doulas. For example, doula-assisted mothers are four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication and are significantly more likely to initiate breast-feeding, compared to non-doula-assisted mothers1. Yet, the doula workforce suffers from high levels of burn-out often due to being underpaid, overextended, and disrespected in their work, which often results in doulas leaving the profession2. Given the clear benefits of doula-assisted pregnancy and birth, these issues need to be solved. But, how? Well, one person on the job is Master’s student Katie Minich! Katie is in the Applied Anthropology program working with Drs. Melissa Cheyney and David Lewis. Katie’s research aims to better understand how we can improve the sustainability and best practices for doulas post-training.

Tune in to our interview with Katie this Sunday (May 26th) at 7 pm PST on KBVR 88.7 FM. We will be covering a whole range of topics, including Katie’s eight years of experience as a doula herself, why Oregon is one of the best places to be a doula in the US, and more! 

If you miss the live show, you can check out the interview wherever you get your podcasts, including on our KBVR page, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or anywhere else!   

If you’re interested in learning more about the topics discussed, check out the following resources:

Minich, K. I. (2023). “Listening to Doulas in Southern Oregon: Exploring Motivations and Experiences of Birthworkers.” McNair National Research Journal, 2. 

Minich, K. I. (2023) “Listening to Doulas in Southern Oregon: Understanding Value and Care.” Southern Oregon University Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program McNair Scholars Journal, 19. 

The Uplift Lab: Home – Uplift Lab

Profile on research award: Announcing the Deanna Kingston Scholarship for Graduate Student Excellence | Anthropology, Anthropology Academic Programs, Graduate Anthropology, Prospective OSU Anthropology Graduate Students | College of Liberal Arts | Oregon State University

Graduate Student profile: Anthropology Graduate Students | Anthropology, About Anthropology, Faculty & Staff Directory | College of Liberal Arts | Oregon State University


1 Gruber, K.J., Cupito, S.H., and Dobson, C.F. (2013) Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 22(1): 49-58. 

2 MamaGlow Foundation. (2023) Birth worker burnout: Exploring integrative approaches to nurturing a healthy doula workforce.

Welfare, TANF, and Higher Ed: Students thrive when we remove the barriers

In 2023, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) distributed aid to nearly 20,000 families, and approximately 40,000 individual recipients in the state of Oregon (FY2023 TANF Caseload). The families and individuals who receive TANF often face unseen difficulties and obstacles, especially related to higher education. This week on ID, we speak with Terese Jones, a recent PhD graduate in Human Development and Family Sciences. Terese’s dissertation work centered around TANF recipients, the challenges they face with higher education, developing a pilot program to address these challenges, and assessing the outcomes. 

Terese’s research identifies many common obstacles that TANF students face, a few of which are a lack of information about resources, stigma surrounding the use of these resources, and practices and procedures that discourage students from using these resources. In the program she developed, she sought to eliminate some of these barriers. For example, she removed a requirement that certain students receiving assistance needed to provide a state issued form that tracked their class attendance, which had to be signed by their professors. This change was the most positively received component of the program among the participants because it eliminated a significantly embarrassing and uncomfortable experience for the students.

Terese found that eliminating some of the barriers the students identified allowed them to expand what is called “possible selves” which refers to the futures that students can imagine and identify as possible for themselves. Students who initially sought to become phlebotomists changed their career trajectory towards nursing when they realized they would have the support to do so. Additionally, the participants also expanded their “public selves” which refers to how they see themselves within their community/public life. Many of these students saw themselves going back to their communities as health professionals, addiction and counseling professionals, and social service and welfare professionals. 

Terese says that she found herself relating to these students because she also has a background of poverty that drove her through her higher education journey. She is now continuing her work in a position at LBCC, where she is developing more programs centered around deep poverty in Linn-Benton county with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of people in our community. To learn more about Terese and her work, check out this week’s episode of ID. Also take a look at some of the resources Terese provided below!

Emergency Financial Assistance — Vina Moses Center

Family Support Program – Corvallis Public Schools Foundation (

South Corvallis Food Bank

Full cream: The power of milk on infant development

Our upcoming guest is Jillien Zukaitis, a first year PhD student in Nutrition, College of Health. Her lab, fondly referred to as the ‘Milk Lab’, studies at all things milk. With a clinical background as a dietitian, Jillien now couples her practical experience with translatable research.

Partnering with OHSU, Jillien assesses the composition, nutritional value, and potential health benefits of human milk on the development of preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This involves analyzing various proteins and peptides in the different types of milk fed to these infants and seeing how they are digested to isolate their roles in infant health and development. One way she does this is by isolating milk peptides from infant stomach and intestine and testing these on macrophage cells, examining the immune function of some of the peptides identified. By assessing the processing methods, milk types, and milk contents, she aims to discern what milk is best to feed infants. She plans to compare these results against other sources of nutrition such as infant formula in the future.

One innovative element of her research is through use of an in-vitro “digestion machine” known as SHIME (The Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem), which essentially mimics the entire digestive process from start to finish, allowing valuable insights at each stage involved. This revolutionary machine is one of the few in the USA and is right here at OSU!

To learn more about her research, passion to improve the lives of infants, and the unorthodox pathway that led her to pursuing her PhD, tune in to our prerecorded conversation on KBVR 88.7 FM this Sunday, May 12. You can listen to the episode anywhere you listen to your podcasts, including on KBVRSpotifyApple, or anywhere else!