Patrick Mbullo Owuor

Patrick Mbullo Owuor

Asst. Professor, Anthropology and Public Health

656 W. Kirby St.
3035 Faculty/Administration Building


Anthropology, Public Health

Patrick Mbullo Owuor

Dr. Owuor is a biocultural anthropologist interested in environmental stresses and their impacts on health outcomes, especially among vulnerable populations such as women and children. His research focuses on infrastructure development and associated disruptive activities and their consequences, such as displacement, water, and food insecurity. Primarily, he uses biocultural methodologies and theoretical insights (ethnographic techniques, surveys, and biomarkers) to examine the physical and psychosocial impacts of infrastructure.

Dr. Owuor has a long-standing commitment to collaborative and community-based participatory research, where he has been involved in numerous public health interventions to address global health issues, including health disparities in contemporary marginalized populations. He is a co-founder and executive director of Pamoja Community-Based Organization, a non-profit in Kenya that works with vulnerable communities to identify and address the most significant needs affecting their well-being. While at Pamoja, he focuses on community health programming, implementation science, research and development, and experiential learning for students interested in global health.

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Biosocial impacts of infrastructure development
  • Resource insecurity, including food and water insecurity in the low-and medium-income countries
  • Environmental stresses and their impacts on health and well-being
  • Environmentally induced stress, global health, and health disparities in East Africa
  • Anthropology of infectious diseases and environmental health, including HIV/AIDS Care, treatment and Prevention in East Africa
  • Community-based research and community health
  • Human biology and population health research


  1. Longitudinal assessment of the physical health impacts of Thwake Dam construction in Makueni County, Kenya. This project seeks to assess the developmental implications of dam-induced displacement on children and b) the consequences of exposure to chemical pollutants in household water, especially among women.
  2. Hydrocolonialism Institute. This multidisciplinary initiative hosted at the University of California, Berkeley, aims to advance humanistic horizontal and vertical communication approaches critical in providing frameworks for addressing structural and environmental inequalities in water resources.
  3. The ethics and politics of human bio-banking in clinical trials in East Africa. This project aims to develop a new, multi-disciplinary international team of researchers with a commitment to further exploring the ethics of biobanking among East African communities.
  4. The role of housing insecurity in HIV treatment outcomes. This collaborative project aims to recruit households with women and children living with HIV in Kisumu County, Kenya. It explores the questions around resource insecurities, especially as influencers of health and well-being.
  5. Cognitive Disabilities and pediatric brain injuries in Kenya Project: This project explores the relationship between cognitive disabilities and neonatal brain injuries during birth in western Kenya.
  6. Evaluating the effectiveness of community-based HIV prevention programs in Kisumu, Kenya.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University, Canada, 2022-2023
  • Ph.D., Biological Anthropology, Northwestern University, 2022
  • M.A, Social Anthropology, York University, Canada, 2015
  • B.A., Anthropology, Maseno University, 2012

Awards and grants

  • 2023: Hydrocolonialism: The politics and poetics of water infrastructure, the environment, and health. Wenner-Gren Foundation Workshop Grant.
  • 2022: An ethnographic study of human bio-banking in clinical trials in Eastern Africa: A Pilot Study, Tubman Institute Seed Grant, York.
  • 2021 to 2022: Understanding the accuracy and usability of at-home fluoride testing in Barut Sub County, Nakuru County, Kenya. Institute of Policy Research.
  • 2018 to 2020: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) initiation, adherence, and service delivery experiences of young women in Seme sub-County, Kenya. Center for AIDS Research Early Career Grant.
  • 2019: Household Food Security and Nutritional Assessment of Children and Families Receiving Food Support from Pamoja Community Based Organization in Rural Kenya. SSHRC Student Research Grant.
  • 2017 to 19: Fabrication Lab-In-A-Kit (FLIK): DIY Assistive Technology for Children with Disabilities in Kisumu County. SSHRC Grant.
  • 2018: Dams, Flows and Displacements: A Sociological Assessment of the Proposed Thwake Dam in Kitui, Kenya. The British Institute in East Africa's Small Thematic Research Grants.

Selected publications

  1. Boateng, G. O., Collins, S. M., Mbullo, P., Wekesa, P., Onono, M., Neilands, T. B., & Young, S. L. (2018). A novel household water insecurity scale: Procedures and psychometric analysis among postpartum women in western Kenya. PLOS ONE, 13(6), e0198591.
  2. Brooks, Y. M., Collins, S. M., Mbullo, P., Boateng, G. O., Young, S. L., & Richardson, R. E. (2017). Evaluating Human Sensory Perceptions and the Compartment Bag Test Assays as Proxies for the Presence and Concentration of Escherichia coli in Drinking Water in Western Kenya. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 97(4), 1005–1008.
  3. Collins, S. M., Owuor, P. M., Miller, J. D., Boateng, G. O., Wekesa, P., Onono, M., & Young, S. L. (2019). ‘I know how stressful it is to lack water!’ Exploring the lived experiences of household water insecurity among pregnant and postpartum women in western Kenya. Global Public Health, 14(5), 649–662.
  4. Jackson-Gibson, M., Ezema, A. U., Orero, W., Were, I., Ohiomoba, R. O., Mbullo, P. O., & Hirschhorn, L. R. (2021). Facilitators and barriers to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake through a community-based intervention strategy among adolescent girls and young women in Seme Sub-County, Kisumu, Kenya. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1284.
  5. Kibaara, C., Blat, C., Lewis-Kulzer, J., Shade, S., Mbullo, P., Cohen, C. R., & Bukusi, E. A. (2016). Treatment Buddies Improve Clinic Attendance among Women but Not Men on Antiretroviral Therapy in the Nyanza Region of Kenya [Research article]. AIDS Research and Treatment.
  6. Krumdieck, N. R., Collins, S. M., Wekesa, P., Mbullo, P., Boateng, G. O., Onono, M., & Young, S. L. (2016). Household water insecurity is associated with a range of negative consequences among pregnant Kenyan women of mixed HIV status. Journal of Water and Health, 14(6), 1028–1031.
  7. Mogaka, J. N., Owuor, P. M., Odhiambo, S., Waterman, C., McGuire, M. K., Fuchs, G. J., & Attia, S. L. (2022). Investigating the Impact of Moringa oleifera Supplemented to Kenyan Breastfeeding Mothers on Maternal and Infant Health: A Cluster Randomized Single-Blinded Controlled Pilot Trial Protocol. JPGN Reports, 3(3), e237.
  8. Ohiomoba, R. O., Owuor, P. M., Orero, W., Were, I., Sawo, F., Ezema, A., Jackson-Gibson, M., & Hirschhorn, L. R. (2022). Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Initiation and Retention Among Young Kenyan Women. AIDS and Behavior, 26(7), 2376–2386.
  9. Owuor, P. M., & Elliott, D. A. (2023). Super-highways and Infrastructure Development in Kenya: The Political Economy of Kenya-China Road Development Projects Since 2013. African Journal of Development Studies (Formerly AFFRIKA Journal of Politics, Economics and Society), 13(1), 115–130.
  10. Thavarajah, W., Owuor, P. M., Awuor, D. R., Kiprotich, K., Aggarwal, R., Lucks, J. B., & Young, S. L. (2023). The accuracy and usability of point-of-use fluoride biosensors in rural Kenya. Npj Clean Water, 6(1), Article 1.

Courses taught by Patrick Mbullo Owuor

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Fall Term 2023