Kayla Mehl, PhD

Hecht-Levi Fellow

Kayla Mehl completed her PhD in philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research interests lie at the intersection of bioethics, values in science, and political and feminist philosophies. Her dissertation argued that the experiences of people in larger bodies (i.e., those who are medically deemed “obese”) experience fat oppression, and more specifically, a kind of oppression known as cultural imperialism that is perpetuated under the guise of a concern for health. Though the social aim of improving the health of people in larger bodies is often presumed to underlie obesity research and their medical treatment, if it were, researchers would be asking a wider range of research questions, collecting and evaluating data differently, and using different models. To improve both the epistemic and social effects of research, she argues that engaging in participatory research methodologies will ensure better science that does more to promote health, given that the research methods and background assumptions will be justified by and promote democratically endorsed aims. Kayla will be applying her social justice-oriented perspective on research ethics as she works on pragmatic clinical trials through the Regulatory & Ethics Core of the NIH Collaboratory and the PRISM Coordinating Center.