Kellie Owens

Area(s) of Interest:  Sociology of biomedicine, health, and illness; Sociology of science and scientific knowledge; Sociology of gender and reproduction


Kellie’s research examines changing risk management philosophies and practices in medicine, with a focus on American obstetrics. In particular, she is interested in how medical providers are reacting to data suggesting that some commonly-used technologies and procedures are not improving health outcomes and may be leading to overtreatment. Her dissertation project, based on in-depth interviews and observation, is a comparative analysis of the risk perceptions and management styles of American birth providers in five U.S. cities. She demonstrates how risk countercultures in childbirth complicate the common biomedical narrative suggesting that health risks are best managed through increased monitoring and intervention.


[Forthcoming] Owens, Kellie. “Too Much of a Good Thing?: American childbirth, intentional ignorance, and the boundaries of responsible knowledge.” Science, Technology, and Human Values.

  • Winner of the David Hakkan Graduate Student Paper Prize, Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing, American Anthropological Association

Owens, Kellie. 2015. “Boundary Objects in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Christian Science vs. Acupuncture.” Social Science and Medicine 128: 18-24.

Owens, Kellie. 2016. “’Colorblind Science?’ The perceived importance of racial diversity in science research.” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 8(1): 3-12.


Northwestern University, Department of Sociology, 2012
Robert F. Winch Memorial Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Second-Year Paper

American Sociological Association, US-UK Medical Sociology Conference, 2015
Graduate Student Fellow

Northwestern University, Department of Sociology, 2015
Fieldwork Extension Fellowship

Northwestern University, The Sexualities Project, 2014
Summer Research Grant

Northwestern University, Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program, 2013
Graduate Student Affiliate


Kellie is a Research Fellow with the Science and Human Culture program at Northwestern University. Since Fall 2015, Kellie has been a Visiting Research Fellow with the Program on Science, Technology, and Society at Harvard University.

Courses Taught:

Sociology of Health, Biomedicine, Culture and Society
The Rise and Implications of Evidence-Based Medicine
Graduate Seminar on College Teaching (To be taught in Spring 2017)