Katharine Marie Lee

 Katharine Lee

Contact Information

Department of Anthropology
607 S Mathews Ave.
M/C 148
Urbana, IL 61801
Biological Anthropology
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Katharine MN Lee  is a biological anthropologist and engineer studying women's health using theoretical perspectives derived from feminist biology and anthropology. Katharine earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University and her Master’s of Science in Business Administration from Texas A&M – Texarkana as part of a fellowship with the Department of Defense. She has worked as an engineer at the Center for Military Biomechanics Research at Natick Soldier Systems Center and the Biophysics and Biomedical Modeling Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UIUC, where her two main research projects focus on bone health in adult women and the experiences of underrepresented groups in STEM. Working with Polish and Polish-American women, the first project focuses on how physical activity and reproductive hormones across the lifespan affect bone in healthy adult premenopausal women. The second project interrogates how identity – gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, ability, and religion – interacts with experiences of hostile work climate and harassment for people in astronomy and planetary sciences. Katharine works to combine her experience in engineering to optimize data collection and manipulation techniques with anthropology to situate that data in complex social and historical contexts. Her dissertation research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the American Philosophical Society.


Research Description

I am interested in bone health in women of reproductive age. I focus on how physical activity and estrogen interact to affect bone in healthy adult women. I measure both bone density (which changes slowly) and biological markers of bone turnover.  Bone is broken down and rebuilt all the time in order to keep it healthy, and the bone turnover markers allow me to see how much building and dissolving is happening at the present time in women. Overall, my goal is to understand how normal women maintain their bones during their entire life.


  • Tulane University: B.S. Biomedical Engineering
  • Texas A&M - Texarkana: M.S. Business Administration


  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
  • NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, "Life history tradeoffs affecting bone maintenance and development in premenopausal Polish and Polish-American women"
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Dissertation Fieldwork Grant "Life history tradeoffs affecting bone maintenance and development in premenopausal Polish and Polish-American women"