About me

Post-doc researcher with a focus on global reproductive and population health. Graduate work for my PhD (2019) with the Department of Global Public Health and professional experience with international organizations, primarily Save the Children.

My research falls within the spheres of health psychology, psychosomatic medicine and social/ cultural anthropology. Human rights is a cross-cutting theme. I am the principal investigator of a global study addressing life course, intergenerational and historical determinants of health as these relate to culture and the status of women. I am involved in low-income country studies of midwifery. A pedagogical project with focus on children’s participation in research has been consistently close to heart.

Most recently in 2022 I have presented my work at the World Congress for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) in Vancouver August 27-31 https://www.dohad2022.com/ and at the preceding Indigenous DOHaD Gathering August 24-26 https://indigenousdohadgathering.org/:

  • Links of Love and Grief – Mothers, daughters and pregnancy outcome in a high maternal mortality setting (Session: Epigenetics)
  • Fear of Childbirth – A marker of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance? (Session: Epigenetics)
  • Childbirth in Matrilineal Society: Focus on perinatal mental health and reproductive outcome (Session: Sharing at the Gathering)

June 2023: A new project with the National Yemeni Midwives Association (local ICM): “Midwives at the Frontlines of Conflict and Humanitarian Crisis” aims at giving a voice to Yemeni midwives’ coping, resilience and ‘lessons learned’ from practicing midwifery during the 9-year long conflict.

As lead researcher I have received funding from various funding agencies including the Swedish Society of Medicine, Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), Swedish Institute, Hans Wigzell Research Foundation, Kempe Carlgrenska Foundation, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, Rädda Barnen/ Save the Children Sweden and Karolinska Institutet.

Languages: Swedish, English, French, Norwegian, (elementary) Swahili.

Doctoral degree

2019-05-15. Thesis: "Maternal Mental Health Matters: Childbirth related care in Yemen through women's eyes". Opponent: Medical/ Cultural Anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd, Senior Research Fellow, University of Texas at Austin, Dept. of Anthropology. Supervisors: Professor Töres Theorell, Dept. of Global Public Health and Professor Kyllike Christensson, Dept. of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet. https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10616/46740/Thesis_Ann…

Publications (selection)

Kempe A, Theorell T, Noor-Aldin Alwazer F, Taher S A, Christensson K. Exploring women’s fear of childbirth in a high maternal mortality setting on the Arabian Peninsula. Global Mental Health (Camb) 2015; 2: e10. Collection on Child Mental Health. https://pubmed-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/28596858/

Kempe A, Theorell T, Noor-Aldin Alwazer F, Christensson K, Johansson A.  Yemeni Women’s Perceptions of Own Authority During Childbirth: What does it have to do with achieving the Millennium Development Goals? Midwifery Special Issue on the MDGs 2013; 29 (10): 1182-1189. https://pubmed-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/23938165/

Kempe A, Noor-Aldin Alwazer F, Theorell T. The Role of Demand Factors in Utilization of Professional Care during Childbirth: Perspectives from Yemen. International Scholarly Research Network ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology 2011; 2011: Article ID 382487. https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/pmc/articles/PMC3175725/

Kempe A, Noor-Aldin Alwazer F, Theorell T. Women’s Authority During Childbirth and Safe Motherhood in Yemen. Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare 2010; 1 (4): 129-134. https://pubmed-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/21122611/

Save the Children, 2004. So You Want to Involve Children in Research? Toolkit supporting children’s meaningful and ethical participation in research relating to violence against children. Sub-study to the United Nations Study on Violence against Children (Research). https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/pdf/2437.pdf/

Teaching portfolio

The interest in pedagogy goes back to my undergraduate years in Friends World College (https://liu.edu/Global/History) with a student based, experiential approach to education. I enjoy teaching and interacting with students and based on my experience with international organizations and own research with children in the global south developed a curriculum for the theme "Voice of Children – Methods and ethics in conducting research with children and young people". I taught this class using different approaches – as lecture, seminar or workshop – under the umbrella of Public health, Stress medicine and Human rights and democracy at KI and other universities.

Aside from teaching within the scope of academia and civil society organizations, formal training continues to be important with recent courses:

  • Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (GHPD, spring 2022)

Aims: "To enhance the professional competence of university teachers and encourage a reflective approach to teaching and learning."

Examination assignment: Planning the teaching session "Voice of Children". The theme is used to show how we as teachers can partner with children to improve our research concerning them and, in case of performing research related to the SDG agenda, to further the work together to attain these goals. “Learning by doing” is a theory of education expounded by American philosopher John Dewey. It's a hands-on approach to learning enabling participating children and young people to interact with their environment in order to learn.

  • Observation and visual methods in health care sciences research (fall 2022)

"Visual methods are here used to include ethnographic observations as well as photographic and video observations. The visual evokes elements of human consciousness that can serve as a compliment to words, when words are insufficient or at times not at all accessible."

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Scholarship by Svensk förening för Psykosocial Obstetrik och Gynekologi (SFPOG) for the 20th Congress of the International Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISPOG) in Vienna 13-16 July 2022.

Travel award for the World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2022. Karolinska Institutet/ the Swedish Society of Medicine.

Member International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD), Member International Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISPOG), Board-Member/ Secretary 2015-2021 Svensk förening för Psykosocial Obstetrik och Gynekologi (SFPOG), Member the Swedish Society of Medicine (SLS), Member American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, Member Swedish-Yemeni Friendship Association.