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Email: jmackessy1 at


Office: 303A Alumni

I am a third-year PhD student in the biological anthropology program here at UNC. My advisor is Dr. Amanda Thompson, and I also work closely with Dr. Mark Sorensen and Dr. Morgan Hoke. I got my B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and my M.A. from UNC last spring. Before starting at UNC, I worked as a labor doula in the Columbus, Ohio area, which sparked my interest in how the birth experience and birth process affects birth outcomes. My previous work examined how the birth experience impacted mothers’ breastfeeding outcomes in a population of non-Hispanic Black women in North Carolina. My current research centers around both the psychosocial and physiological factors that contribute to birth outcomes such as infant HPA axis dysregulation, breastfeeding success, and maternal-infant bonding. I am also a biosocial predoctoral trainee at the Carolina Population Center, where I am working on analyzing interviews from a population of new mothers in North Carolina on their birth experiences and the feasibility of future research designs examining the birth process.

Research Interests

  • Maternal-infant health
  • Birth experience
  • Birth outcomes


Julia Mackessy CV