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Jennifer Sarrett

Senior Lecturer, Center for Study of Human Health, Emory University

Dr. Jennifer Sarrett is a Lecturer at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Human Health, where she teaches courses in health, ethics, human rights, and disability. Her work focuses on intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as they relate to culture, disability rights, and ethics. She began working in the field of autism and developmental 20 years ago as a special education instructor and consultant in the U.S. and abroad. With the objective of studying the role of culture in the identification, understanding, and treatment of autistic children, she obtained her PhD from Emory’s Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), a unique interdisciplinary program.

Dr. Sarrett uses mixed method social science to think about and solve problems related to access and equity for disenfranchised communities. She aims to discover and create innovative strategies to identify barriers to more integrated diverse communities as well as solutions to the challenges of minority populations in a variety of contexts. Overall, her work explores the sources of discrimination and stigma—as well as solutions to combat these social forces—against people with disabilities. However this work necessities a consideration of all social identities, including race, gender, class, and sexuality and so she is also involved increasing access and opportunities in regards to these factors as well. Most recently, her work is looking into the experiences of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system. People with these disabilities face disproportionate harm by this system, whether the encounter the system as victims or the accused. She aims to identify the sources of these disparities and create strategies to create a more just system for all.

She employs the fields of bioethics, neuroethics, disability studies, and human health. She uses innovative qualitative methods alongside public health, history, critical theory, anthropology, human geography, and medicine to ask and answer questions related to increasing access for people facing structural barriers as well as ethical issues related to this work. Further, she strives to ensure her work is understandable and useable by a range of lay, professional, and academic audiences.


  • 2015–present
    Lecturer, Center for the Study of Human Health, Emory University
  • 2014–2015
    Visiting assistant professor, Emory


  • 2014 
    Emory University, Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, PhD
  • 2005 
    Vanderbilt University, Department of Special Education, MEd


  • 2020
    Incarcerating Disability: How Society Wide Structural Violence Diminishes Justice for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities , Iperstoria
  • 2018
    The names have been changed to protect the…Humanity: Person-first language in correctional health epidemiology., American Journal of Epidemiology
  • 2017
    Revealing the training on intellectual and developmental disabilities among forensic mental health professionals: A survey report., Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behavior
  • 2017
    Autism and accommodations in higher education: Insights from the autism community. , Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • 2015
    Custodial Homes, Therapeutic Homes, and Parental Acceptance: Parental Experiences of Autism in Kerala, India and Atlanta, GA USA, Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry
  • 2015
    “Maybe at Birth There was an Injury”: Drivers and Implications of Caretaker Explanatory Models of Autistic Characteristics in Kerala, India, Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry
  • 2014
    Ethics and Ethnography: Lessons from Researching Autism in India, Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research
  • 2012
    Autistic human rights-A proposal, Disability Studies Quarterly
  • 2011
    Trapped children: Popular images of children with autism in the 1960s and 2000s, Journal of Medical Humanities