Dr. Jean Schensul is founding director and senior scientist with the Institute for Community Research, an independent research organization funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Schensul is an anthropologist with interdisciplinary research and teaching experience in health problems and concerns from birth to older adulthood in the United States, Africa, Latin America and South Asia, including India, Sri Lanka and China.
Her primary professional commitments involve supporting community-based research organizations in the United States and around the world. She focuses on building community-university action research partnerships and promoting the collaborative and indigenous use of science-based approaches, especially with communities experiencing health inequities. Her main areas of funded U.S. and international research are structural factors contributing to substance use and prevention (tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and illicit drugs), especially in young adults; oral health disparities; and HIV in the U.S. and South Asia.
Schensul has received many NIH, federal and foundation grants. She is the senior editor and co-author of the Ethnographer's Toolkit, a seven-book series on community-based, mixed methods research, now in its second edition. She has authored many articles, book chapters and curriculum manuals on topics related to health, community, and disparities across the developmental and cultural spectrum. She regularly teaches in community methods programs and university settings in the U.S. and South Asia. She is a regular reviewer for NIH and many peer-reviewed journals.
She received the Society for Applied Anthropology's Malinowski Award for lifetime achievement in the application of anthropology to human problems and the American Anthropological Association's Solon T. Kimball Award (with Stephen L. Schensul) for contributions of anthropology to policy.
In addition to her continuing role at the Institute for Community Research, based in Hartford, Connecticut, she is an adjunct research professor with the University of Connecticut's School of Dental Medicine and an adjunct professor with UConn's Department of Community Medicine. She has held various administrative roles in organizations associated with the discipline of anthropology, including presidency of the Society for Applied Anthropology, presidency of the Council on Anthropology and Education, and the executive board of the American Anthropological Association. She is the elected treasurer of the Association of Anthropology and Gerontology.