Student Profile: Katelynn Carlsen

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 Katelynn Carlsen, a M.A. student at the University of South Florida.

Why did you choose to study anthropology?

I originally chose to pursue a degree in anthropology because it can encompass pretty
much anything, and I had a wide range of interests. Throughout my undergraduate
degree, I honed my research interests down to medical anthropology and then further
down to mental health. My professor at California State University, Stanislaus, Dr. Ryan
Logan, was instrumental in shaping my research. I chose to pursue my master’s degree
in applied anthropology because I wanted to help address problems within the
biomedical system and the treatment of people with mental health problems.

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

Substance use is closely tied to other mental health problems. Anxiety and depression
are common comorbidities. I am interested in substance use partially because of this
overlap. Substance abuse can develop from substance use intended to mediate the
symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. In these cases, addressing the larger structural
or environmental issues that can lead to increased levels of anxiety or depression is
important. This is something that has always been really interesting to me. Substance
abuse also runs in my family and is something that has always been a part of my life, so
it was an area of research that I felt connected to.

What are your research plans for studying alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?

Autism and substance abuse are also comorbidities. A future avenue of research would
examine the causes or cues associated with substance use in autistic people. It’s
possible that substance use is higher because of the ableist environment and attitudes
increasing anxiety and depression. This is an area of research I would like to explore
further. Currently, I am researching substance use cues in students at the University of
South Florida (USF).

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

I plan to complete my MA at USF and pursue PhD in Applied Anthropology and an MA
in Public Health at USF. Afterwards, I want to work with nonprofits and harm reduction
programs to help people with substance problems and mental health issues.

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!