Dr. Andrea M. Lopez is an Associate Professor with expertise in medical anthropology, urban anthropology, the anthropology of drug use, health inequities, the U.S. welfare state, and subjectivity and social suffering in U.S. urban contexts. She has over two decades of experience working with unstably housed and homeless people who use drugs, both as a researcher and in a harm reduction direct service capacity. Dr. Lopez’s anthropological research objectives are broadly concerned with how subjectivities are formed within the context of U.S. War-on-Drugs policies, which include punishment, racialization, and social exclusion of people who use drugs.

She currently has two active ethnographic projects at UMD as Principal Investigator: 1) "Structural Context and Community-Based Response to Opioid Overdose in Washington, D.C.," funded by the Dean's Research Initiative in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and 2) the "State Wide Assessment of Drug Use and Services" Project (SEADS), funded by the Maryland Department of Health through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Crisis Response Funds. SEADS is a large ethnographic study examining how people who use drugs engage with care, which will inform statewide overdose prevention and other harm reduction initiatives statewide in Maryland. Dr. Lopez is a current grantee of the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program. This award funds her portfolio of research: “Incorporating Qualitative, Ethnographic, and Community-based Perspectives into the Evidence Base on the U.S. Opioid Overdose Epidemic.”

Dr. Lopez has been a qualitative investigator on over a dozen interdisciplinary, mixed methods studies of health inequities among structurally vulnerable populations, largely funded by the National Institutes of Health. Between 2010 and 2016, she worked as a Research Medical Anthropologist in the Behavioral and Urban Health Program at RTI International’s San Francisco Regional office and between 2010 and 2014, she worked as a qualitative researcher in the HIV/AIDS Division at University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine. In this work, she collaborated with clinicians, epidemiologists, and social scientists from other disciplines on multiple interdisciplinary, mixed methods studies in both San Francisco and Oakland, California examining the following: the role of the built environment on health and mental health; illness experiences of HIV/AIDS patients in a large urban safety-net clinic; the management of addiction, trauma, and violence from the perspectives of the extreme poor; the impact of the criminal justice system and welfare institutions on the reproduction of adversity; and the social and structural contexts of addiction, mental illness, and violence.

Dr. Lopez was recently awarded a Research and Scholarship Award at UMD to develop her book manuscript titled "States of Emergency: The Politics of Death, Drugs, and Deservingness." This innovative book manuscript draws on her ethnographic research with marginalized people who use drugs between 2010 and the present to examine eras of the U.S. overdose crisis from the perspective of those most impacted relative to the presence or absence of national "state of emergency" discourse.

Dr. Lopez's previous research has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among others.

Dr. Lopez was a five-year fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico (2008-2012) where she participated in an intensive research and training program focused on interdisciplinary and cross-methodological health disparities research. She also has a long history of working in a direct service capacity with community-based organizations serving unstably housed people who use drugs, including the San Francisco Needle Exchange, an outreach program run by the Women’s Community Clinic serving women who reside in single resident occupancy hotels in San Francisco’s Mission District, and as a harm reduction advocate in an outpatient drug treatment program.

For more information on previous research projects, visit andrealopez.net

Google scholar: here.


Areas of Interest

  • Medical anthropology, urban anthropology, drug use, health policy, anthropology of violence, anthropology of space, health inequities, mixed methods/interdisciplinary research, subjectivity and social suffering, critical phenomenology


  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Anthropology - San Francisco State University (2003)
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Anthropology - University of New Mexico (2007)
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Anthropology - University of New Mexico (2014)

Current Students

Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)

  • Julieta Ferrera
  • Hian Yong Yeo
Andrea M. López
0107 Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
lopez [at] umd.edu