Lauren E. Gulbas, Ph.D.

Lauren E. Gulbas, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

As a cultural and medical anthropologist, Dr. Gulbas has a long-standing interest in understanding how social change in local contexts shapes cultural meanings and experiences of distress. She is particularly interested in documenting how distress, broadly defined, becomes articulated across individual, cultural, and institutional levels. Her dissertation research, “Cosmetic Surgery and the Politics of Race, Class, and Gender in Caracas, Venezuela,” explored these broader intellectual concerns by documenting the unanticipated consequences associated with Hugo Chávez’ Bolivarian Revolution. In this project, funded by the National Science Foundation, she explored individuals’ strong preoccupation with physical appearance in a place where people confronted high rates of poverty, food shortages, and spiraling rates of violence and homicide as a part of everyday life. Through a focus on racial, ethnic, and gender dynamics, Dr. Gulbas’ continuing research in this area examines how anxieties about the body reflect broader personal and social concerns regarding cultural and political change.

Dr. Gulbas’ anthropological research contributes to theoretical paradigms that explore the complex linkages between macro-level processes, such as culture change, and individual experiences of distress. As her research has become increasingly interdisciplinary, she has appreciated the important synergies that exist between anthropology and social work. Both disciplines are concerned with confronting important social problems and effecting change. To this end, she has engaged in several collaborative projects that examine the interface among immigration, culture change, and psychosocial distress among Hispanic youth and their families.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Professional Interests

Culture and Mental Health, Suicidal Behavior, Immigration, Family Systems, Race and Gender Studies, Latin America


  • Ph.D., Southern Methodist University
  • M.A., University of Texas at San Antonio
  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania

Teaching History

Faculty Research



Phone:(512) 232-4418
Fax:(512) 471-9600

Mailing Address

The University of Texas
School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd D3500
Austin, TX 78712-0358