Sean Bruna

Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor

Current Courses

Fall 2021

Anth 303: Qualitative Methods in Anthropology
Anth 400: Medical Anthropology Lab (Independent Study)
Anth 424/524: Medical Anthropology
Anth 496: Portfolio Assembly
HNRS:  Honors Thesis Advisement
Anth 585: Essentials of Graduate Study in Anthropology
Anth 690: MA Thesis 

Winter 2022

Honors 203: Anthropology Colloquium
Anth 400: Medical Anthropology Lab (Independent Study)
Anth 400: Analysis of High Potency Dabs (Independent Study)
Anth 496: Portfolio Assembly
HNRS:  Honors Thesis Advisement
Anth 500: Scientific Publishing (Independent Study)
Anth 503: Research Design and Method
Anth 586: Research Mentorship
Anth 690: MA Thesis 

Spring 2022

Anth 201: Intro to Cultural Anthropology
Anth 400: Medical Anthropology Lab (Independent Study)
Anth 400: Directed Independent Study (Independent Study)
Anth 496: Portfolio Assembly
HNRS:  Honors Thesis Advisement
Anth 500: Advanced Qualitative Methods (Independent Study)
Anth 586: Research Mentorship
Anth 690: MA Thesis 


Sean Bruna, PhD. is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Western Washington University. Dr. Bruna holds degrees from the University of Chicago (BA, 1999, MA, 2003) and the University of New Mexico (MA, 2005, PhD. 2013).  His research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Smithsonian Institution, among other organizations. Prior to entering academia he worked in student affairs at the University of Chicago where he advised students and developed new programs and partnerships between the university and prominent organizations.

Dr. Bruna uses community-based and collaborative mixed-methods to examine the intersections of identity and community health. His current research includes testing health interventions for other Latinx or American Indians living with chronic diseases, recreational drug use among college students, documentation of risky fieldwork practices, and COVID-19 management strategies employed by disabled peoples, among other mentored research.

As a Latinx scholar, Dr. Bruna is dedicated to creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for students in his lab, with colleagues in his department, and for the university. Dr. Bruna actively teaches 6 to 8 courses a year, advises undergraduate, masters and doctoral students, and maintains an active lab.  Many of his courses explore advanced methodologies and are graduate degree level courses, though he regularly teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, a favorite course that welcomes students to Western Washington University and anthropology.

Some things you may not know about me:

  • I am married to a Microbiology professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
  • I'm Latinx. My dad is a refugee from Cuba and my mother is from Mexico.
  • I grew up in Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia, then immigrated to El Paso, Texas.
  • In my free time I enjoy camping and sailing.


2013 – PhD. Ethnology (Cultural Anthropology), University of New Mexico 
2005 – M.A. Ethnology (Cultural Anthropology), University of New Mexico 
2003 – M.A. Social Science (Federal Indian Law), University of Chicago 
1999 – B.A. Anthropology & Latin American Studies, University of Chicago


2021 – Present, Associate Faculty, Honors Program, Western Washington University
2019 – Present, Associate Professor, Western Washington University
2014 – 2019, Assistant Professor, Western Washington University

Current Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Undergraduate and Graduate student mentorship, training and supervision is a key aspect of Dr. Bruna's scholarly practice. Many of his students are now working in the public/private sector, are active in the health professions or are completing advanced research in MA/MS/MSc or PhD programs. Listed below are currently members of Dr. Bruna's lab, followed by theses completed by the excellent group of students whose committees he chaired. For additional information about the Medical Anthropology Lab, current members, and publications, please visit his personal website.

  1. Daniel Hargrave, PhD. Candidate, U. of South Florida (Committee Member)
  2. Tyler Stodola, MA Candidate, U. of North Texas (Committee Member)
  3. L. C. Osadchuk, M.A. Candidate, Cultural Anthropology – Covid-19 Isolation Strategies Among Disabled People
  4. Samantha Whalen, M.A. Candidate, Cultural Anthropology – Experiences with Surrogacy
  5. Rhiannon Joker, M.A. Candidate, Cultural Anthropology – Latinx Idioms of Distress in Clinical Encounters
  6. Jessica Paredes Strong, M.A. Student, Cultural Anthropology – research in development
  7. Temika Johnson, M.A. Student, Cultural Anthropology – research in development
  8. Sandra Andress, M.A. Student, Cultural Anthropology – research in development
  9. Bassma Al-Nighashi, 4th Year, Sociology – Composition of Editorial Boards of Anthropology Journals
  10. Jennie Adler, 4th Year, Anthropology – Recreational Drug Use Among College Students: Dabs
  11. Caitlin Millard, 4th Year, Honors – Queering The Birth Experience: Examination of Obstetrical Practice 
  12. Kate Amos, 4th Year, Honors – Genetic Gift Giving
  13. Krista Schafte, 4th Year, Honors – Intergenerational Trauma and Obesity

    For affiliate members/faculty, please visit please visit

Recent Master’s and Honors Thesis

Research Interests

  • medical anthropology, chronic disease prevention
  • research methods
  • collaborative ethnography and community based participatory research (CBPR)

Curriculum Vitae:


Selected Publications

bold font indicates student author

Bruna, S. (2022, Forthcoming) Book Review: Qualitative research methods (2nd ed.), by Monique Hennink, Ing Hutter and Ajay Bailey, London, SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020, 345 pp., ISBN: 978-1-4739- 0390-6. ISBN: 978-1-4739-0391-3

Peter Miterko & Sean Bruna (2022) Reframing sense of community with photovoice: perspectives from residents of a permanent supportive housing program who have experienced chronic homelessness, Journal of Community Practice, DOI: 10.1080/10705422.2022.2070313

Stodola, T. J., & Bruna, S. P. (2021). Medical Anthropology Courses and Concepts Tested on the MCAT: A Content Analysis of 40 U.S. Course Syllabi. Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development.

Cacari Stone, L., Sanchez, V., Bruna, S. P., Muhammad, M., & Zamora, M. (2021). Social Ecology of Hypertension Management Among Latinos Living in the U.S.–Mexico Border Region. Health Promotion Practice.

Yu, Y. J., Bruna, S., & McCarty, C. (2021). HIV Risk among trafficked women: a systematic review of the global literatureAIDS care33(8), 1068-1078.

Miterko, P., & Bruna, S. (2020). Resident identified strengths and challenges of project-based permanent supportive housing program implementation in a small metropolitan countyHousing and Society48(3), 239-260.

Bruna, S. (2020) Opportunities and Challenges to Data Sharing with American Indian Tribal Nations. In: Crowder J., Fortun M., Besara R., Poirier L. (eds) Anthropological Data in the Digital Age. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Bruna, S. P. (2019). Landscapes of Power: Politics of Energy in the Navajo Nation. Dana E. Powell. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. 336 pp. DOI 10.1111/amet.12785

Bruna, S. (2015). Religious Gardens, Pilgrimages, and Dancing: A Critique of Translated Interventions in a Tribal Community. The Applied Anthropology of Obesity: Prevention, Intervention, and Identity, 121-40.

Stevenson, J. C., Rankin-Sunter, K., Maki, C., Bruna, S., Mosher, M. J., & Barrett, C. E. (2015). Community based pilot study of diagnostic paths to the gluten free diet. International Journal of Celiac Disease, 3(18), 17. DOI: 10.12691/ijcd-3-1-7

Bruna, S., Stone, L. C., Wilger, S., Cantor, J., & Guzman, C. (2014). The role of community health centers in assessing the social determinants of health for planning and policy: the example of frontier New MexicoThe Journal of ambulatory care management37(3), 258. DOI: 10.1097/JAC.0000000000000004

Sánchez, V., Cacari Stone, L., Moffett, M. L., Nguyen, P., Muhammad, M., Bruna, S., & Urias-Chauvin, R. (2014). Process Evaluation of a Promotora de Salud Intervention for Improving Hypertension Outcomes for Latinos Living in a Rural U.S.–Mexico Border Region. Health Promotion Practice, 15(3), 356–364.