Who we are


Melissa Cheyney PhD, LDM

Uplift Co-Director, Associate Professor of Clinical Medical Anthropology

Melissa Cheyney PhD, LDM is Associate Professor of Clinical Medical Anthropology at Oregon State University (OSU) and a community midwife. She co-directs Uplift—a research and reproductive equity laboratory at OSU, where she serves as the Primary Investigator on more than 20 maternal and infant health-related research projects, including the Community Doula Project. She is the author of an ethnography entitled Born at Home (2010, Wadsworth Press), co-editor with Robbie Davis-Floyd of Birth in Eight Cultures (2019, Waveland Press), and author or co-author of more than 60 peer-reviewed articles that examine the cultural beliefs and clinical outcomes associated with midwife-attended birth at home and in birth centers in the United States. In 2019, Dr. Cheyney served on the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Birth Settings in America Study and in 2020 was named Eminent Professor by OSUs Honors College. She also received Oregon State University’s prestigious Scholarship Impact Award for her work in the International Reproductive Health Laboratory and with the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) Statistics Project. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care and the mother of a daughter born at home.


Marit Bovbjerg PhD, MS

Uplift Co-Director, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Marit Bovbjerg is an assistant professor of epidemiology at OSU. Her main research interest is maternity care in the US, with a focus on midwifery care and planned community birth. Dr. Bovbjerg was the lead author on recent papers that have led to changes in national health policy and changes in reproductive epidemiology standard research methods. She is a quantitative methods expert for the Uplift Lab research group, and collaborates extensively with Dr. Cheyney, Uplift fellows, and colleagues around the world on projects related to maternity care. During the 2019-2020 academic year, she was a Fulbright Scholar, appointed at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, University College Cork, Ireland.



Micknai Arefaine

Micknai Arefaine is an indigenous Ethiopian, cultural organizer, educator, and artivist.  She recently completed a Masters in Applied Anthropology at Oregon State University where she served as the Graduate Teaching Assistant for AYA-Womxn of Color Initiative, Vice President of the Black Graduate Student Association, and Vice President of Social Justice for the Coalition of Graduate Employees (Local 6069).  Her research focuses on Feminist praxis in Mekele, Ethiopia and the role of women in eachother’s lives. She is a founding member of the Radical Imagination Collective and lead organizer of it's annual gathering in Corvallis, Oregon, Opening Space for the Radical Imagination.  She has received several awards for her culturally aware and equity focused leadership.  Micknai is a doula with the Community Doula Program (CDP) and a curriculum developer with the CDP-Community College Democratizing Doula Training Project. She enjoys her yearly trips to Ethiopia, reading comic books and speculative fiction, long phone calls with friends and family, and spending time in the forest, river, and ocean.

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Paul Corcoran, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at UCC
Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Paul Corcoran PhD

Paul Corcoran PhD is a Senior Lecturer in University College Cork (UCC) Ireland and Senior Epidemiologist at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, which comprises an interdisciplinary team within UCC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology with researchers from obstetrics, midwifery, nursing, epidemiology, public health and social science. The Centre collaborates with the Irish maternity services to translate clinical audit data and epidemiological evidence into improved maternity care for families in Ireland. Paul is a statistical epidemiologist with 25 year’s research experience. He has played a lead role in the development of national registry and health information systems in the areas of perinatal health and mental health and in analysing data from such systems. Paul has co-authored approximately 150 journal articles, twenty national reports, several book chapters and numerous oral and poster presentations at scientific conferences and other meetings.

Courtney L. Everson PhD

Courtney L. Everson, PhD, is an applied medical anthropologist working at the intersection of public health, prevention sciences, and social work. Dr. Everson applies biosocial health frameworks and community-based approaches to study and uplift maternal-infant health, child well-being, child maltreatment prevention, positive youth development, and family strengthening. Dr. Everson is currently appointed as a Research Associate with the Social Work Research Center (SWRC), School of Social Work, College of Health and Human Sciences, at Colorado State University (CSU). At CSU SWRC, she engages in team-based science and research-practice partnerships to advance equity-centered transformations in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and health/behavioral health landscapes.

Dr. Everson is also the Co-Editor of NEOS, the flagship publication of the American Anthropological Association children and youth interest group; a Research Working Group member of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health; an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; Co-Chair of the Family Voice & Choice Committee for the Colorado Collaborative Management Program (CMP); and a strategic consultant to higher education entities, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations on issues of equity, complex systems evaluation, and anti-oppressive practices.

Dr. Everson holds a PhD in applied medical anthropology from Oregon State University with doctoral level minors in public health and women, gender, and sexuality studies. She is also a birth doula, postpartum doula, and perinatal health educator as well as a certified barre fitness instructor.


Social Work Research Center Website: https://www.chhs.colostate.edu/swrc/social-work-research-center/

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Holly Horan PhD

Holly is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama and a birth and postpartum doula. Holly’s research focuses on maternal stress and birth outcomes in Puerto Rico. She is also the primary investigator on two projects in the state of Alabama: a state-wide, community-led MIH research needs assessment and the development of a prospective data collection project for community doulas in central Alabama. Holly recently served as the program coordinator for the Community Doula Program, a Medicaid-funded program providing doula services to priority populations in three counties in Oregon. Now, she leads the program’s research team. Holly believes that through robust, interdisciplinary, community-engaged research that maternal stressors, and the health consequences because of chronic stress, can be mitigated through the scaling-up of appropriate social services and the provision of holistic, integrated perinatal care.

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Sara Leitao PhD

Sara is a researcher in the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC), in Ireland, working on national perinatal clinical audits and related research. She works on the NPEC’s “Severe Maternal Morbidity” annual clinical audit and the “Very Low Birth Weight Infant” audit (carried out in partnership with the Vermont Oxford Network).

Sara’s portfolio includes both qualitative and quantitative research. She has a PhD in Psychosocial Occupational Health and an MSc. in Occupational Health, both awarded by the School of Public Health in University College Cork. Currently, she is involved in various research projects related to maternal morbidities, patient and maternal well-being, quality improvement of care, maternity safety climate and staff well-being.


Jonathan M. Snowden PhD

Jonathan M. Snowden is Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Oregon Health & Science University-Portland State University School of Public Health. His areas of expertise are causal inference, childbirth, maternal health, racial health inequities, and queer health.

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