Laurin Bixby is a Sociology PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, jointly pursuing a Master’s degree in Statistics and Data Science. She is also part of Health Policy Research Scholars, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation leadership development program that supports doctoral students whose research helps build healthier and more equitable communities. Bixby also served as the Lex Frieden Inclusive Policy and Advocacy Intern at Elevance Health, working to reduce health care inequities and improve access to care and services for disabled people and older adults.
Bixby’s research illuminates how institutional and sociopolitical contexts shape the health and wellbeing of disabled people and their families. Her thesis focused on how socioeconomic status modifies the relationship between children’s disability and maternal health, arguing that instead of viewing disabled children as burdens on their families, scholars and policymakers need to shift their focus to how ableism and poverty burden disabled people and their families. Her recent work examines the intersection between disability and incarceration, highlighting how diverse institutions segregate and control people in ways that shape the lived experience of disabled people and serve as pathways to prison. As a disabled and chronically ill woman, Bixby has observed firsthand how ableism and other systems of inequality perpetuate structural discrimination and health inequities. Through her research, she aims to illuminate patterns of inequality that can be translated into policy solutions and structural changes that promote disability justice and health equity.