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Sara Jane Samuel

PhD Candidate in Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University In The City of New York

About Sara

Samuel developed an interest in the history, politics, and ethics of public health as an undergraduate at Yale University. As a scholar of public health and history in the department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia, she is interested in the historic linkages between public health, national security, and American foreign policy in South Asia and Mexico. Specifically, Samuel’s research examines the nonviolent ways American power has been projected through international vaccination campaigns during the Cold War. Her goal is to articulate a vision of American foreign policy that does not heavily rely on instruments of force and uses public health interventions to promote peace.


In the News

Opinion: "Going Viral – Infectious Rights & Rhetoric," Sara Jane Samuel, Public Health Post, August 24, 2022.


"Freedom, Rights, and Vaccine Refusal: The History of an Idea" (with James Colgrove). American Journal of Public Health 112 (2022): 234-241.

Examines the differences between anti-vaxx and pro-vaccine rhetoric. Finds that anti-vaxx propaganda centers fear-based messaging, while pro-vaccine communications rely more on scientific messages. Suggests that in recent years, vaccine refusal has been framed as a civil right, and argues that this framing has historically been central to vaccination resistance, with potential consequences for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.