Name: Leigh Senderowicz
Title: Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Obstetrics and Gynecology
Hometown: Very proud Philadelphian
Educational/professional background: I did my undergrad at Wesleyan, where I majored in anthropology and gender studies. I was a Watson Fellow after college, before coming back to the US to work for a couple of years in the nonprofit sector. I went back to school to get my Masters of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, with a concentration in women’s and reproductive health. After my MPH, I moved to Burkina Faso to work as a research assistant at the University of Ouagadougou, where I spent a couple of years before coming back the US again to pursue my doctorate. I earned my doctorate in global health and population from Harvard, and then I moved here to UW-Madison to complete a postdoctoral fellowship focused on health disparities research.
What is your field of research, and how did you get into it?: I focus on global sexual and reproductive health and rights, and it’s kind of hard to think about how I got into it because can’t really imagine doing anything else. I’ve always thought that reproductive rights are essential to autonomy and self-determination. But the longer I study this, more deeply I understand how much reproductive rights are shaped by broader patterns of social inclusion and exclusion. Family planning in particular sits at such an interesting nexus of demography, economics, ecology, reproductive health, and gender rights, and there is just so much to explore.
What attracted you to UW-Madison?: Over the past few years, UW-Madison has emerged as a hub for research on reproductive health, and it’s really exciting to be a part of growing that. I’ve been a part of so many interdisciplinary centers and initiatives since I got here, allowing me to benefit from such a broad range of perspectives and approaches. Now, as I join the faculty of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department, I’m excited to connect even more with this fantastic group of scholars with such diverse areas of study.
What was your first visit to campus like?: I first visited in the spring of 2019, so it was pre-covid and it was lovely. I met up with some faculty and other postdocs at the Terrace and enjoyed watching the sun go down over the lake.
Favorite place on campus?: I love walking to Picnic Point with my dog.
What are you looking forward to most this academic year?: I’m looking forward to being back in the classroom, and to teaching my brand new course on gender and global health
Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how: I absolutely do. Everything I do in my work is intended to give us new and better information about how we might equitably improve the health and wellbeing of people in Wisconsin and beyond.
What is an interesting fact within your area of expertise that you could share at parties, now that we can attend them again?: An occupational hazard about this line of research is that you lose your filter about which anecdotes about reproductive health are party-appropriate and which aren’t. If you’re not careful, I’ll put you right off your hors d’oeuvre.
Hobbies/other interests: I love cooking and baking, and I got really into gardening during the pandemic.