Paloma Soledad Contreras

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10411

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Contreras, Paloma (Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of) "Perceptions of water insecurity and stress: a multidisciplinary account of water scarcity and the embodiment of distress in Mexico City"

Water insecurity is a worldwide problem involving water access, water quality, and water affect (i.e. the emotional, cultural, and subjective experiences of water). It presents a major stressor that negatively impacts mental and physical health. Despite this burden, studies addressing the connections between water insecurity, psychological stress, and human biology are lacking. This project will investigate the connections between perceived water insecurity, perceived stress, and DNA methylation, by comparing women from water-secure (WS) and water-insecure (WI) neighborhoods in Mexico City. Perceived water insecurity and perceived stress will be gauged using interview questionnaires. Saliva samples will be collected to measure DNA methylation in genomic regions that are sensitive to stressful experiences (FKBP5, SLC6A4, and NR3C1). I predict that (1) individuals from WI neighborhoods will have greater perceived stress; (2) women from WS and WI neighborhoods will have significantly different DNA methylation levels; and (3) women perceiving greater water insecurity will have greater DNA methylation differences compared with those perceiving low water insecurity. Urban water insecurity is a new challenge to which humans can respond adaptively or maladaptively. This study will identify how human biology responds to scarcity in urban environments, contributing to our understanding of the embodiment of sociocultural contexts.