Student Profile: Dohyun Im

Here is the latest installment of ADTSG’s student profiles feature!

These profiles are a way for the ADTSG membership to become acquainted with the next generation of anthropologists of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.  In this vein, each profile will introduce one graduate or undergraduate student to the group by asking them a series of questions related to their background and career aspirations in this field.

In this installment, we are profiling Dohyun Im, a M.S. student at American University.

Why are you interested in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research?

I majored in psychology, so I was genuinely interested in creating an inclusive society where the diversity of their sociocultural backgrounds and personal experiences would be appreciated. Yet, only studying psychology, I could not get a holistic understanding of human nature, and by taking a Drug and Society class with Dr. Dan Small as an elective course during my undergrad year, a turning point occurred for my interest in anthropological theories and the current phenomena of drug overdose and harm reduction cases as a way to understand the sociological narratives of the causes, consequences, and treatment of people in mistreated and vulnerable circumstances. 

What are your research plans for studying drugs/drug use?

For me, drug overdose and harm reduction is one way to understand others’ daily struggles and how the community and the greater society should cooperate and embrace the diversity of individuals. Based on that, I am looking forward to publishing the research paper I am working on now, aiming to synthesize the current phenomena of the increase in drug overdose after the COVID-19 pandemic and takeaways for the future pandemic crisis. 

How does anthropological theory inform your research?

I believe anthropology has evolved as a research tool to truly understand and embrace the ethnographic data of substance users’ lived experiences and everyday realities. Further, medical anthropology began to merge the experimental contribution of suffering from mental illness to political or economic approaches dealing with socially constructed inequalities. Therefore, employing anthropological theory in my study is to examine and depathologize people in marginalized populations from the stereotypical lens and demonstrate a holistic understanding of the variety of complex implicit and explicit sociocultural values, sociostructural inequalities, and the formation of a sense of belonging. 

What do you hope to do after you graduate with your Master’s degree?

I plan to pursue a Ph.D. after my Master’s in Justice, Law, and Criminology. I would like to apply psychology, sociology, and anthropology in Ph.D. programs not only limited to criminology, which was my core interest. As those disciplines are interrelated to each other, I am looking for a program that can embrace and broaden my goal of obtaining and inspiring others about the holistic understanding of human society and, ultimately, creating a better world based on the inclusion of people in a manner of respect and dignity.  

If you are an anthropology student and would like to be profiled for the ADTSG website, please contact ADTSG’s Chair, Breanne Casper, at for more information!

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