Barbara Herr Harthorn

Professor of Anthropology; Director, NSF Center for Nanotechnology in Society; Group leader, NSF/EPA UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology & Member of PhD Emphasis Affiliate (IEES)

Contact Phone

(805) 893-3350

Office Location

HSSB 2074


Medical and Psychological Anthropology, Risk and Perception, Social Production of Health and Environmental Inequality, and New Technologies and Society

Faculty in Anthropology Department


  • PhD, Medical Anthropology and Transcultural Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles
  • B.A., Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College


Professor Barbara Herr Harthorn is a cultural, medical, and psychological anthropologist who studies risk and perception, the gendered and raced social production of health inequality, responsible development of new technologies, and public participation in techno-scientific systems. Since 2005, she has served as the Director of an NSF national center, the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at UCSB (CNS-UCSB), as well as a group leader and executive committee member in the NSF/EPA-funded UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN) at UCLA. She holds a courtesy affiliation in the Departments of Sociology and Feminist Studies.

In both CNS-UCSB and UC CEIN Professor Harthorn leads international, interdisciplinary teams of researchers using mixed quantitative and qualitative social science research methods to study risk and perception regarding new technology development among diverse stakeholders in the US and abroad. She was elected to Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2008.


In the UC CEIN Harthorn leads an interdisciplinary research group in Theme 7, which conducts research on nanomaterials and Environmental Risk Perception. Her research broadly examines culture and health, health inequality, and technological risk and perception; in particular she is studying the intersections of socially constructed risk with gender, ethnicity/race, and other categories of difference.


Barbara Herr Harthorn past research projects have included studies of California farmworker health, primary care physicians as gatekeepers to mental health services, gender, illness, and healing in rural Fiji, and women urban migrants in Kampala, Uganda.


Professor Harthorn is author with John Mohr of The Social Life of Nanotechnology (2012, Routledge) and with Laury Oaks of Health, Culture and Risk: Shifting Perceptions of Danger & Blame (2003, Greenwood/Praeger), as well as numerous articles, chapters, reports, and other publications.


Anth 219: Anthropology and Risk**

**Elective course for IEES