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School of Public Health

Khiara M. Bridges Named 2024 Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Award Recipient by the Rutgers School of Public Health

Khiara M. Bridges, J.D., Ph.D. – a law professor, anthropologist, and nationally-recognized expert on the intersection of race, class, and reproductive rights – has been named the 2024 Frank R. Lautenberg Award recipient by the Rutgers School of Public Health. She will also serve as the school’s 41st graduation speaker.

Hailed as the School’s highest honor, the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Award was established in 2001 to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to public health through a significant record of advocacy, the development of programs, and capacity building that has led to expanded research, education, and service opportunities.

Bridges exemplifies these ideals. In 2011, Bridges published her first book, Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization, which investigates the role of race in prenatal healthcare settings that are utilized by low-income people. The book analyzes the politics of healthcare for the poor, demonstrating how the “medicalization” of social problems reproduces racial stereotypes and governs the bodies of poor women of color. Her fourth book, Expecting Inequity: Race, Class, and Reproductive Justice, which is under contract with MIT Press, explores how class-privileged, pregnant people of color attempt to deploy their relative wealth and elevated social status to avoid structural racism.

Recently, Bridges testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Her testimony, which received extensive media coverage, established her as a fierce defender of the marginalized and a public intellectual with a quick wit and quick tongue. Her testimony encourages others to stand up for what is right and to refuse to cower to those who seek to do harm to the most vulnerable among us.

Bridges graduated as valedictorian from Spelman College, receiving her undergraduate degree in three years. She received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her Ph.D., with distinction, from Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology. She speaks fluent Spanish and basic Arabic and is a classically trained ballet dancer.

Bridges will be honored with the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Award during the Rutgers School of Public Health’s annual graduation ceremony, where she will address graduates, faculty, staff, and guests.

Prior recipients of the award include Dionne Warwick, Grammy Award-winning vocalist and humanitarian; André Sayegh, Mayor of the City of Paterson; Laurie Garret, best-selling author and science news reporter; Tammy Murphy, First Lady of the State of New Jersey; Mark Wade, director of the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness; and Abdul El-Sayed, doctor and civil servant.