Visiting Scholar Announcements

Taylor, Wendell

Meet Dr. Wendell Taylor

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Wendell C. Taylor, Visiting Scholar in the Institute for the Medical Humanities, Department of Preventive Medicine and Population Health. The objectives of his current research proposal are to present a comprehensive overview and analysis of ethics related to hiring practices and workplace interventions for people who smoke or are obese. His research interests are physical activity, workplace health promotion, health equity, and health behaviors in high priority populations.

Dr. Taylor was the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health grant titled, Booster Breaks: A 21st Century Innovation to Improve Worker Health and Productivity. This study was a cluster-randomized controlled trial of health promoting breaks in the workplace and assessed physical, psychological, and organizational-level outcomes. There are more than 16 peer-reviewed publications related to the Booster Break concept and interventions.

Dr. Taylor received his AB from Grinnell College, MS in Psychology from Eastern Washington University, PhD in Social Psychology from Arizona State University, and his MPH from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health. In addition, he completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Community Health at the Center for Health Promotion Research and Development, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. His previous positions include tenured Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, and Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research as well as Adjunct Associate Professor in the Cizik School of Nursing, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Meet Dr. Minji LeeMinji Lee

Dr. Minji Lee recently received a PhD Degree in the Department of Religion at Rice University. Her PhD thesis, “Bodies of Medieval Women as Dangerous, Liminal, and Holy: Representations in the Writings of Late Medieval Religious Women” explored how this medieval German nun defended the woman’s sexual/reproductive body” as positive in the images of re-creation and salvation against misogynic medieval and religious culture of her age.

Granted that Dr. Lee is a medievalist interested in the interactions between mysticism and medicine in the Middle Ages, she now turns to the new research project to compare medieval European medical theories and modern Korean folk medicine in order to see how women have been striving to maintain their reproductive health and to bring positive meanings to their own bodies. She also participated in making a Korean independent documentary project “For Vagina’s Sake (2017)” to posit how Western pre-modern medicine “diabolized” women’s menstrual body.

Currently, she is also a volunteer at Reunion Institute to promote public awareness in religion.

UPREET DHALIWALMeet Dr. Upreet Dhaliwal

The UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Upreet Dhaliwal, MS as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Dhaliwal will be in residence from February 2019 through May 2019.

Dr. Upreet Dhaliwal, formerly Director-Professor of Ophthalmology at the University College of Medical Sciences, University of Delhi, is one of the founding members of the Medical Humanities Group in the Institution.

She is editor of the journal “Research and Humanities in Medical Education (RHiME)” which is an online-only, peer-reviewed, open-access journal, the only journal in Asia that caters specifically to the medical humanities. RHiME can be accessed at

An occasional poet, and an avid promoter of medical student-led poetry sessions, Dr Dhaliwal is keen to deepen her involvement with the humanities through the visiting scholar program at the Institute for Medical Humanities. Her work here involves an exploration of the Provider-Patient relationship through the medium of poetry.

  • Meet Dr. Vanessa L. Johnson

    August 20, 2015, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    Vanessa L. Johnson, MBA, JD, LLMThe UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Vanessa L. Johnson, MBA, JD, LLM as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Johnson will be in residence from August 20, 2015 through September 20, 2015.

    Dr. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Houston - Clear Lake School of Business.

    Dr. Johnson earned a Master of Laws in Health Law, a Master of Laws in Tax Law, and Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center. She also earned a Master of Business Administration from the New York University Stern School of Business, and a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Tulane University Freeman School of Business.

    Dr. Johnson is an alumna of Leadership Houston's Class XXIX, as well as the United Way of Greater Houston's Project Blueprint Class XXIX. She has served on the boards of directors for Builders of Hope CDC, Avenue CDC, and the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program.

    Dr. Johnson will be updating the Medical Jurisprudence Study Guide during her residence.

  • Meet Dr. Anna Magdalena Elsner

    February 10, 2015, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    Anna Magdalena Elsner, MA, PhDThe UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Anna Magdalena Elsner, MA, PhD as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Elsner will be in residence from February 10, 2015 through July 31, 2015.

    Dr. Elsner earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and French from the University of Oxford, and a Master of Arts in European Literature and Culture and a Doctorate from the University of Cambridge. She completed a fellowship with the Joanna Randall McIver Research Fellowship Program at St Hugh’s College, Oxford.

    Dr. Elsner is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Department of French and the Centre for the Humanities and Health based at King’s College London. Her areas of research include twentieth-century French literature and philosophy, the intersections between literature and medicine, theories of melancholy, psychoanalysis and cinema.

    Dr. Elsner has a forthcoming book on mourning and creativity in Proust, Freud and Derrida, and has written a variety of articles on À la recherche du temps perdu and documentary cinema. She is a member of the Équipe Proust at the ITEM, based at the ENS, Paris.

    In her current research project, Dr. Elsner is investigating the clinical encounter in twentieth-century French literature and film, paying particular attention to questions arising from doctor-patient communication relating to pain.

    While in residence at the Institute, Dr. Elsner will work on a chapter about physician writers in twentieth-century France, focusing on the importance some of these writers attribute to the processing and re-shaping of the clinical encounter in their non-clinical writing.

  • Meet Dr. Dien Ho

    February 2, 2015, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    The UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Dien Ho, MA, PhD as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Ho will be in residence from February 2, 2015 through March 31, 2015.

    Dr. Ho is an associate professor of philosophy and healthcare ethics at MCPHS University in Boston, Massachusetts. His area of research includes reproductive ethics, organ transplantation policies, philosophy of science, and philosophy of pharmaceutics.

    Dr. Ho is the author of numerous articles in both academic journals (Bioethics, AMA Journal of Ethics, and Analysis) and popular media (Newsweek and Philosophy NOW) and is currently editing an anthology on philosophy and pharmaceutics. The volume explores philosophical issues from the development of drugs to their dispensing and to their usages.

    Dr. Ho earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and politics from Brandeis University, a Master of Arts in philosophy from Tufts University, and a Doctorate in philosophy from the Graduate Center—the City University of New York.

    Prior to joining MCPHS University, he taught at University of Kentucky, Brooklyn College, and Yale University.

    In addition to his research and teaching, Dr. Ho also serves as a clinical ethics consultant for Boston-area's hospitals. He was a founding member of the University of Kentucky Medical Center's Ethics Committee. Besides his passion for philosophy, he is also an avid cyclist and an aficionado of zombies.

  • Meet Dr. Terence Wright

    February 1, 2015, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    Terence Wright, PhDThe UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Terence Wright, PhD as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Wright will be in residence from February 1, 2015 through April 30, 2015.

     Dr. Wright is Emeritus Professor of Visual Arts at Ulster University (UU), Northern Ireland and Chair of the Anthropological Association of Ireland. Formerly he was Course Director for the MFA Photography program at UU.

    Dr. Wright is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, board member of the Society for Visual Anthropology and affiliated member/visiting researcher at DIGIS (Digital Studio for Research in Design, Visualisation & Communication), Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge.

    Dr. Wright earned Master’s degree in Fine Art from Chelsea School of Art, London; a Master’s in Ethnology, University of Oxford and a Doctorate from University College London (1986) for his work on photography and visual perception.

    He worked as a freelance photographer for BBC News and Current Affairs, programs such as That’s Life, Rough Justice and Crimewatch, as well as editorial photography for CosmopolitanCompany and New Scientist.  Among his assignments for the BBC he covered the Libyan People’s Bureau siege in London and the Iranian Airline hijack in Paris in 1984. 

    In 1998 Dr. Wright returned to Oxford University to establish the research project  ‘Moving Images – The Media Representation of Refugees’ at the university’s Refugee Studies Centre. He was also a Visiting Professor at Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen (Bergen Academy of Art) in Norway. 

    As part of the European Union funded ‘NM2’ (New Millennium, New Media) research project, Dr. Wright produced and directed The Interactive Village (2004-7): a digital ethnography of Dolní Roveň a village in Eastern Bohemia, Czech Republic in collaboration with the University of Pardubice. He also produced a FUSION cross-border creative & digital media economic development project forming part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. The project developed interactive mobile media guides to Irish history sites with the overall aim of enabling visitors to access multi-perspective, contested or contradictory histories as well as myth, legend and conjecture.

    In 2008 Dr. Wright held a Visiting Research Fellowship at CRASSH (Centre for Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities) at the University of Cambridge. He has exhibited his visual work in UK, Poland and Russia; his publications translated into Polish, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. In 2014 Dr. Wright was co-organiser of the Future of the Visual Image in the Medical Humanities conference held at the Open Gates Centre at UTMB. His current research project “The Memory Game” is a visual media iPad-based system for reminiscing, supporting memories of people with dementia.

    During his residence in the Institute, Dr. Wright will be working in this area of study as well as conducting further research into the theoretical dimensions of visualization, memory and reminiscing.


    • The Photography Handbook (3rd edition). London: Taylor & Francis, in press. 
    • Visual Impact: culture and the meaning of Images. Oxford: Berg, 2008

    Recent publications include:

    • “Drawn from Memory: reminiscing, narrative and the visual image” International Journal of Computers in Healthcare, 2010
    • “Photography and Visual Rhetoric” in The SAGE Handbook of Visual Research Methods. London: Sage, 2011
    • “Visual Culture, Ethnography and Interactive Media” in A Companion to the Anthropology of Europe. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012
    • “Media, Refugees and other Forced Migrants” in The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford University Press, 2014
  • Meet Dr. Valerie Gray Hardcastle

    January 6, 2015, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    Valerie Gray Hardcastle, MA, PhDThe UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Valerie Gray Hardcastle, MA, PhD. Dr. Hardcastle will be in residence from January 6, 2015 through February 28, 2015.

    Dr. Hardcastle is a Professor of Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati. She is also a Scholar-in-Residence at the Weaver Institute for Law and Psychiatry, as well as an Acting Director of the Medicine, Health, and Society Program at the University of Cincinnati.

    Dr. Hardcastle is an internationally recognized scholar and the author of five books and over 130 essays. She studies the nature and structure of interdisciplinary theories in the mind and brain sciences and has focused primarily on developing a philosophical framework for understanding conscious phenomena (especially that of pain) responsive to neuroscientific, psychiatric, and psychological data.

    Dr. Hardcastle is currently investigating the neuroscience of violence and its implications for both our understanding of human nature and the criminal justice system.

    Dr. Hardcastle earned a Bachelor of Arts in both philosophy and political science from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master of Arts in philosophy from the University of Houston, and an interdisciplinary Doctorate in cognitive science and philosophy from the University of California, San Diego.

  • Meet Reverand Dr. Vasileios Thermos

    July 15, 2014, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    Reverand Vasileios Thermos, MD, PhDThe UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome the Reverand Vasileios Thermos, MD, PhD as a Visiting Scholar. He will be in residence from July 15, 2014 through October 15, 2014.

    Rev. Dr. Thermos was born in 1957 at Lefkada, Greece. He studied at the Medical School of Athens University and after he graduated he studied at the Theological School of the same university.

    Rev. Dr. Thermos specialized in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry which he still practices in Athens, Greece. In 1996-97 he was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Divinity School; he took classes also in Harvard School of Arts and Humanities, Boston College, Boston University, Andover Newton Theological School.

    In 1997, Rev. Dr. Thermos earned a Doctorate in Pastoral Psychology from the Theological School of Athens University. In 1986 he was ordained a priest of the Orthodox Church of Greece. He has been engaged into training programs for clergy in Greece, Cyprus, and the USA. 

    Rev. Dr. Thermos has written numerous books and articles in Greek; some of them have been translated into English, French, Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Spanish. He is the editor of a new journal in Greek (Psyches dromoi: Ways of the Soul), published every 6 months, on the relationships between theology/religion and psychiatry/psychology (first issue in May 2011).

    In 2004, a master thesis on his total work appeared by Peter Kazaku at the Theological School of Balamand University, Lebanon. This thesis was updated and enriched, thus forming the book Orthodoxy and Psychoanalysis: Dirge or Polychronion to the Centuries-old Tradition? which was published in 2013 by Peter Lang publications in the series ‘European University Studies’, volume 938. 

    Rev. Dr. Thermos was a Visiting Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Psychology of Religion in the Theological Academy of the Orthodox Church of Albania from 2001 to 2013. In 2013 he joined the University Ecclesiastical Academia of Athens as an Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Psychology. 

    He has been a member of scientific committees organizing conferences on the relationship between theology and psychiatry/psychology. He has also given thousands of lectures to seminars, parents groups, clergy assemblies, camps, high schools, radio and TV etc. His areas of interest are: the relationship between psychological sciences and religion; the psychology of religious beliefs and experiences; the dialogue between psychoanalysis and religion; the psychology of clergy and of the ecclesiastical organization; the psychology of culture; religious development of children and adolescents; language, psychology, and religion; an post-modernity and religion.

    Rev. Dr. Thermos is now working on a book about a theological elaboration of homosexuality. While in residence at the Institute he will complete part of it under the title “Same-Sex Attractions and Greek Patristic Thought: Towards an Ontology of Love”. It aspires to bridge a psychiatric-psychological issue of high importance in our public forefront with the ontological-theological dimension found in some rather unknown byzantine sources. The problematic of gender lies in the middle of this discussion.

  • Meet Dr. Jac Saorsa

    May 3, 2014, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    Jac Saorsa, MPhil, PhDThe UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Jac Saorsa, MPhil, PhD as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Saorsa will be in residence from May 3, 2014 through June 3, 2014.

    Dr. Saorsa earned a Master of Philosophy from Glasgow University and a Doctorate in Philosophy and Contemporary Drawing Practice from Loughborough University. She also studied drawing and sculpture at the New York Academy of Art Graduate School.

    Dr. Saorsa  is a visual artist, writer and researcher in art practice and philosophy. She gave drawing workshops in the New York Metropolitan Museum. Jac is a fellow of the British Higher Education Academy and has extensive experience of teaching drawing practice and theory in Universities in Costa Rica, Cyprus, Lisbon, London, and Cardiff Metropolitan University. She has presented and exhibited her work both nationally in the UK, and internationally.

    As an Honorary Research Fellow with Cardiff and Vale Health Board, Jac has collaborative links with Cardiff and Swansea Universities, and with Imperial College London where she has delivered drawing workshops attended by both medical faculty and students. 

    Based in Cardiff, UK, Jac’s practice as a whole is deeply embedded in the field of Medical Humanities and she is particularly interested in the role and impact of visual art within the field. Her research interests are centered in an ongoing inquiry into how we, as human beings, engage with our world, with particular regard to the relation between art practice and biomedical science as it affects the existential ‘lived experience’ of illness.

    In 2013, Jac founded The Broadway Drawing School in Cardiff, UK, and later set up The Broadway Atelier which offers drawing, sculpture and anatomy classes based on artist training in the classical tradition.

    Dr. Saorsa's current research projects include Drawing Women’s Cancer, an ongoing collaborative project working with gynecological surgeons and women patients, and Medicine Unmasked, an Artist in Residency project (October 1014- February 2015) involving her shadowing medical students at Swansea medical School as they carry out a clinical apprenticeship in oncology. 

    Recent publications include chapters in Intensities and Lines of FlightDeleuze/Guattari and the Arts, (2014), Calcagno, A., Vernon, J. S.Lofts (Eds.) Rowman and Littlefield, Deleuze and the Schizoanalysis of Visual Art (2014) Buchanan, I., L. Collins (Eds.) Bloomsbury Academic, and her own book, Narrating the Catastrophe: An Artist’s Dialogue with Deleuze and Ricoeur (2011) Intellect Books.

    Jac’s work can be found online at:

    This is Dr. Saorsa's second visit to UTMB Health as Visiting Scholar at the institute. During this residence, Jac will continue her work on a monograph for the Drawing Women’s Cancer project, and visit the UTMB Department of Anatomy.

  • Meet Dr. Eric Weissman

    February 1, 2014, 00:00 AM by Julia Essex

    The UTMB Health Institute for the Medical Humanities is pleased to welcome Eric Weissman, MA, PhD as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Weissman will be in residence from February 1, 2014 through September 30, 2014.

    Dr. Weissman  is a filmmaker, writer, artist and educator. He earned a Master of Arts in Sociology at the University of Toronto in 1986. Between 1987 and 2009, Dr. Weissman was successful as an artist and scenic painter, working on feature films, museum installations and various private and public commissions.  At the same time, he worked as a researcher for Exile, a literary quarterly in Ontario Canada and as a documentary filmmaker amongst homeless groups in Toronto.  The theme of his documentary work is that housing and housing policy cannot be thought of as separate from ethical issues inherent to systems of healthcare.  In fact, housing is requisite for healthcare, and, homelessness is, therefore, a concern for academic and practical inquiries into community health.

    Dr. Weissman's film series, Subtext – real stories follows the rise and fall of Toronto’s illegal and infamous shantytown, Tent City between 2000-2002, and then follows a group of ex-residents as they navigated transitions into mainstream housing. He was awarded the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) Filmmaker Assistance Program Grant, and the Ontario Arts Council, Emerging Video Artist Grant in 2004. Subtext was featured at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) as the video component for an exhibition on street art and poverty called Housepaint Phase II, which ran between 2008-2009. This work continues, 13 years later and became the basis for his recent dissertation research.

    In 2013 Dr. Weissman earned a Doctorate in The Special Individualized Programs at Concordia University in Montreal.  His dissertation, Spaces, Places and States of Mind: a pragmatic ethnography of liminal critique explores intentional homeless communities by focusing on Dignity Village, Oregon, the first city contracted emergency homeless community in US history where he did participant observation in 2010 and 2011. His dissertation incorporates debates about the use of public space on the basis of perceptions of “worth,” exploring how massive displacements of citizens from economic roles create more tolerant moral and political discourses on spatial occupations by poor people.  It also addresses the question of what it means to be an activist citizen within the context of constitutional democracies.  He problematizes what freedom means when winning the right to self-govern in unhealthy and poverty-stricken tent camps and shantytowns is seen as an expression of constitutional rights.  At a theoretical level, he addresses the classic post-structural conundrum of how to reinvest critique with the power to influence social change. In his research, the liminal aspects of classic critical positions provide a positive opening to transformative thinking.  Finally, the dissertation asks public ethnographers and applied social science to think about the ethical implications of doing visually supported research in communities of struggle, especially by addressing the risks of producing critical knowledge about communities, knowledge that can be divisive just as it might be liberating.       

    Dr. Weissman's dissertation was granted “outstanding” status, and was recommended for the thesis award.  A version of this research appears in his book, Dignity in Exile, tales of struggle and hope from a modern American shantytown (2012).  It is towards understanding how bioethical and often implicit understandings of healthcare expressed as the stories we tell ourselves and each other about rights to space and care, deserving-undeserving categories of poverty and ethical treatment of the other, that his research now looks. Importantly, image systems such as, photos, fine art and film figure prominently in his research because of the evidential weight we tend to give things we can see.

    Dr. Weissman's main research interest while in residence at UTMB Health is to initiate and publish the results of field inquiries in which members of various communities will be asked to look at and comment on their emotional and ethical attachments to images of poverty and homelessness.  Working with scholars at UTMB and the University of Houston, Dr. Weissman will investigate how an online visual mapping tool called VWIRE, can be used to integrate, even unite practitioners, service workers, policy makers, homeless folks and various others by revealing how the stories we use to understand poverty and health issues, despite our diverse socio-economic or mental health histories (including addiction) link us along continua of other common experience.  Just how other is the Other?  Currently in the US, close to 146 million people must choose between food, clothing, rent and healthcare each month.  Of these, only 47 million are considered by federal policy makers to live below the poverty line.  Dr. Weissman's research will reveal how traditional narrative divides about deserving and undeserving poor are collapsing into a general awareness about citizenship as a continuum of democratic experience. The fact that residents of tent camps, shantytowns and other forms of poverty activism, understand themselves to be fighting for their constitutional rights, suggest that at a profound and basic level, all citizens are united around certain basic ethical premises that are often lost in the stories we tell.