|Dr. Nalini Visvanathan is an independent researcher living in the Washington. Her work and advocacy focuses on the intersections of health and social justice in both the global and local context. She received her undergraduate degree from Madras University and later served for two years on the faculty of the National Small Industry Extension Training Institute in Hyderabad. In the United States, she taught international development and population studies, with particular emphasis on women's health in the context of socio-economic development, at the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, VT. She has also taught courses in US immigration history, Asian-American women and minority health disparities at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In her work, Dr. Visvanathan has used community-based participatory research and evaluation processes -an approach to which she was introduced in the 1990's during a sabbatical in India. She has a Master's degree in applied communication research in the substantive area of social change. Her Doctorate in interdisciplinary communication focuses on health behaviors. She is a co-editor of the "Women, Gender and Development Reader", an undergraduate textbook now in its second edition.
Dr. Visvanathan's Fulbright-Nehru research is titled as "Participatory evaluation processes in the formative education and training of women community health workers." She has a longstanding interest in the work of paraprofessional health workers. We are facing a worldwide shortage of health professionals, particularly in the rural underserved regions of the global South. India responded to this growing problem by launching its Rural Health Mission in 2005, which has created a cadre of women paraprofessional health workers, titled ASHAs, to provide pre-natal and post-natal health education to pregnant women and mothers. The goal behind Dr. Visvanathan's research is to learn about the ASHA's, now numbering more than a million and spread across several states with health indicators below the norm.