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February 26, 2013 - 12:49am

Professor Profile: Robert Wyrod


Robert Wyrod is an assistant professor in the Women’s Studies Department and has focused his academic career in sociological research on gender and sexuality in the developing world, specifically Uganda. He graduated from the University in 1989 with a degree in cellular and molecular biology and received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago in 2007.

What classes are you teaching this semester?

I teach a large lecture course on the global AIDS epidemic, and I teach just a really small seminar for juniors who are going to do an honors thesis their senior year.

If you could teach any class at the University, what class would you teach?

I have to say that I really like the global AIDS epidemic course I’m teaching right now. It’s nice because it builds on my research experience, but it also draws on my undergraduate education in the sciences. It gives me a chance to bring together science issues, social science issues and stuff surrounding arts and culture. It’s a pretty neat class, and it’s really challenging because you don’t feel like you’re an expert in anything. I’ve been really happy with the students in my AIDS class. It’s a very diverse environment, and it’s really nice for me to see people in your generation are still interested in thinking about AIDS.

Can you tell me a little bit about your research?

I’m a sociologist. I do ethnographic or anthropological research in Uganda. I’ve spent about a year and a half doing fieldwork in one slum community in the capital, Kampala, and I’ve been looking at how conceptions of masculinity in this community are changing in relation to the AIDS epidemic, so whether or not the AIDS epidemic has made people think any differently about what it means to be a man in this African context.

What’s your favorite place on campus?

I really like the Diag. That space brings back a lot of memories from my undergraduate years here, and it’s beautiful.

How did you get into teaching and what’s your favorite part of teaching?

My first teaching experience was after college when I moved to New York City. I did some volunteer teaching at a Puerto Rican community center and I was teaching kids how to make videos for activism campaigns. Before I was here I was a post doctorate and it was only research so nobody taught. I think one of the problems with that is people often can’t see the big picture anymore. They know a lot about their specific research area, but they don’t really think about what the broader implications are. So one of the things I like about teaching is being forced to pull back a bit and put all of micro-research in a broader context.