Ijeoma Kola

Ijeoma Kola

Assistant Professor

467 Decio
PhD, Sociomedical Sciences (History and Ethics of Public Health), Columbia University; AB, History and Science, Harvard University
Graduate Program Field
United States History
Time Period(s)
African-American, Environmental, Race & Ethnicity, Science, Technology, and Medicine
United States

Ijeoma Kola is a medical historian specializing in the intersection of race and medicine during the 20th and 21st centuries. Her research focuses on the medical and social construction of disease in Black bodies and health social movements within Black communities.

She is currently working on a manuscript titled I Can’t Breathe: Racism and the History of Asthma in Black America, which is an intellectual and cultural history of race and asthma in the United States from the late 1800s to the early 2000s. The manuscript explores how medical, public health, and popular narratives have associated asthma with Black racial identity and argues that scientific racism, medical racism, and environmental racism have shaped the perception and experience of asthma, contributing to the racial disparity in asthma prevalence today.

Her scholarship has been featured in The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences and Social Science and Medicine, and she has been invited to speak at Johns Hopkins University, the New York Academy of Medicine, and other venues. She is a public intellectual whose work has appeared in numerous digital publications and podcasts. She actively advocates for greater diversity in higher education, with a particular focus on supporting Black women and nonbinary doctoral students.

Before joining the History department, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values at the University of Notre Dame, where she received the inaugural Health, Humanities, and Society Teaching Award. She completed her PhD in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University in 2019, where she was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and obtained her AB with honors in History and Science from Harvard University in 2012.