Katherine Darling

Katherine Darling
Title Assistant Professor Of Sociology

Lewiston Hall Room 222
UMA Bangor Campus


I am a sociologist working across the boundaries of medical sociology, feminist science studies, public health and bioethics. I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the UMA Social Science Program and affiliated at University of Maine Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering and the Center for Outcomes Research & Evaluation at Maine Medical Center Research Institute. I also serve on the Ethics Advisory Board at Northern Light Health Eastern Maine Medical Center and co-coordinate the Health Equity Dialogues.

I teach courses on the ethics, politics and social dimensions of health, healthcare and biomedicine, with specific attention to race, class, gender, disability and intersecting social inequities. My teaching approach puts students’ lived experiences at the core of learning. My classes use active learning strategies and project-based learning to teach students how knowledge about society is created and applied to solve real life problems. I am particularly passionate about interdisciplinary teaching that centers social justice and bridges the divide between the social and biomedical sciences.

Before finding Medical Sociology, I studied Molecular Environmental Biology and volunteered at a feminist health clinic in Oakland, California. My experience researching the effects of air pollution on mothers and children in New York City led me to pursue questions about how the environment is conceptualized in biomedicine in my graduate training in Sociology at UC San Francisco (UCSF). While a graduate student, I collaborated on several projects on the ethical, legal and social implications of genomics at UCSF, UC Santa Cruz and the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. My dissertation examined the bureaucratic re-classification of HIV as a chronic disease within U.S. healthcare and policy and its impact on the ways healthcare providers, patient navigators and patients provided and experienced HIV care in a large urban California county.

I collaborate with students on health equity research. My scholarship uses feminist and participatory sociological methods to understand how social institutions and biomedical practices shape health inequities in order to empower communities and inform public health policies. My work aims to help biomedical scientists understand and anticipate social, ethical and policy issues in their research and to support health systems and community leaders to address social determinants of health through innovative structural interventions.

My current research projects examine a range of topics, including the understanding the social, legal and ethical implications of precision oncology and genomic tumor testing, strengthening Maine’s Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce, addressing structural barriers to health among workers in Maine’s shellfish and lobster industries, and improving peer support and educational pathways for people and communities impacted by Maine’s carceral systems.


  • SOC 101: Introduction to Sociology
  • SOC 201: Social Problems
  • SOC 240: Drugs & Society
  • SOC 330: Sociology of Health and Healthcare
  • SSC 390: Project Planning for Social Science
  • BMS 605: Responsible Conduct of Research (UMaine GSBSE)


Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics (2017-2018)
Assistant Director of Research & Academic Programs, Science & Justice Research Center University of California Santa Cruz (2016-2017)


Doctorate in Sociology, UC San Francisco (2016)
Bachelors of Science, Molecular Environmental Biology, UC Berkeley (2007)


Suzanne L. Ishaq, Francisco J. Parada Flores, Patricia G. Wolf, Carla Y. Bonilla, Megan A. Carney, Amber Benezra, Emily Wissel, Michael Friedman, Kristen M. DeAngelis, Jake M. Robinson, Ashkaan K. Fahimipour, Melissa B. Manus, Laura Grieneisen, Leslie G. Dietz, Ashvini Chauhan, Ashish Pathak, Sahana Kuthyar, Justin D. Stewart, Mauna R. Dasari, Emily Nonnamaker, Mallory Choudoir, Patrick F. Horve, Naupaka B. Zimmerman, Ariangela J. Kozik, Katherine Weatherford Darling , Adriana L. Romero-Olivares,  Janani Hariharan, Nicole Farmer, Katherine Maki, Jackie L. Collier, Kieran O’Doherty, Jeffrey Letourneau, Jeff Kline, Peter L. Moses, Nicolae Morar. 2021. “Introducing the Microbes and Social Equity Working Group: Considering the Microbial Components of Social, Environmental, and Health Justice”. mSystems, 6(4): e00471-21

Weatherford Darling, Katherine. Jenny Reardon, Andy Murray, Emily Caramelli, Dennis

Browe, Nikobi Petronelli and Emma Mitchell-Sparke. 2021. “Just Biomedicine on Third Street? Health & Wealth Inequities in San Francisco’s Biotech Hub” in Counterpoints: Bay Area Data and Stories for Resisting Displacement PM Press, Oakland California

Weatherford Darling, Katherine. 2020. Book Review: Remaking a Life: How Women Living with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality by Celeste Watkins-Hayes”. Gender & Society 34(6): 1038-1040.

Weatherford Darling, Katherine. 2018. “Book Reviews: Solidarity in Biomedicine & Beyond Barbara” by Prainsack and Alena Buyx. New Genetics & Society 37(4):439-44.

Ackerman, Sara A, Katherine Weatherford Darling, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Robert A. Hiatt, Janet K. Shim. 2017. “The Ethics of Translational Science: Imagining Public Benefit in Gene-Environment Interaction Research”, Engaging Science and Technology Studies 3: 351-374.

Jenny Reardon, Rachel A. Ankeny, Jenny Bangham, Katherine W. Darling, Stephen Hilgartner, Kathryn Maxson Jones, Beth Shapiro, Hallam Stevens, The Genomic Open workshop group; 2016. “Bermuda 2.0: Reflections from Santa Cruz.” Gigascience 5(1): 1-4.

Science FARE (Feminist Anti-Racist Equity) Collective (Charis Thompson, Laura Mamo, Jenny Reardon, Ugo Edo, Jessica Cussins and Katherine Weatherford Darling, founding members). 2016. “Social Science: Include Social Equity in California Biohub.” Nature 538(7625):371–371.

Weatherford Darling, Katherine, Sara L. Ackerman, Robert A. Hiatt, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, and Janet K. Shim. 2016. “Enacting the Molecular Imperative: How Gene-Environment Interaction Research links Bodies and Environments in the Post-Genomic Age”, Social Science and Medicine 155:51-60.

Ackerman, Sara A, Katherine Weatherford Darling, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Robert A. Hiatt, and Janet K. Shim. 2016. “Accounting for Complexity: Gene-Environment Interactions and the Politics of Quantification” Science, Technology and Human Values 41(2):194-218.

Obasogie, Osagie K., Julie N. Harris-Wai, Katherine Darling, Carolyn Keagy and Michael Levesque. 2015. “Race in the Life Sciences: An Empirical Assessment, 1950-2000.” Fordham Law Review 83(6):3089-3114.

Shim, Janet K., Katherine Weatherford Darling, Sara L. Ackerman, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, and Robert A. Hiatt. 2015. “Reimaging Race and Ancestry: Biomedicalizing Difference in Post-Genomic Subjects.” In Reimagining Biomedicalization, Pharmaceuticals and Genetics: Old Critiques and New Engagements, edited by Susan E. Bell and Anne E. Figert, pp. 56-78. Routledge. New York, New York

Weatherford Darling, Katherine, Angie Boyce, Mildred Cho and Pamela Sankar. 2015. “What is the FDA going to think?: Negotiating Values through Reflective and Strategic Category Work in Microbiome Science”. Science, Technology and Human Values 40(1):71-95.

Shim, Janet K., Sara L. Ackerman, Katherine Weatherford Darling, Robert A. Hiatt, and Sandra Soo-Jin Lee. 2014. “Race and Ancestry in the Age of Inclusion: Technique and Meaning in Post-Genomic Science.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 55(4):504-518.

Shim, Janet K., Katherine Weatherford Darling, Martine D. Lappé, L. Katherine Thomson, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Robert A. Hiatt, and Sara L. Ackerman. 2014. “Homogeneity and Heterogeneity as Situational Properties: Producing – and Moving Beyond? – Race in Post-Genomic Science”, Social Studies of Science 44(4):579-599.

José Rosa, Maria, Kyung Hwa Jung, Matthew S. Perzanowski, Elizabeth A. Kelvin, David Camann, Katherine W Darling, Steven N Chillrud, Robin M Whyatt, Patrick L Kinney, Frederica P Perera, Rachel L. Miller. 2011. “Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, environmental tobacco smoke and asthma”. Respiratory Medicine 105(6):869-876.