Gillings School Directory

Aunchalee Palmquist, PhD, MA, IBCLC

Aunchalee Palmquist

Aunchalee Palmquist, PhD, MA, IBCLC

Assistant Professor
Department of Maternal and Child Health
Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute
  • 422C Rosenau, CB #7445, Chapel Hill NC 27599-7445

Aunchalee Palmquist, PhD, MA, IBCLC, is an assistant professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and an affiliate of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI). She is a medical anthropologist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. 

Dr. Palmquist’s research addresses the intersectionality of perinatal maternal, newborn and young child health disparities globally and in the U.S., with an emphasis on breastfeeding. Dr. Palmquist’s interdisciplinary work bridges medical anthropology and global public health. She conducts community-based participatory research and uses both ethnographic methods and mixed-methods approaches. Her scholarship and practice are informed by human rights based approaches and a reproductive justice lens.

Dr. Palmquist is the lead for the CGBI Lactation and Infant Feeding in Emergencies (L.I.F.E.™) Initiative. She serves as a CGBI representative on the WHO/UNICEF Global Breastfeeding Collective, the Emergency Nutrition Network IFE Core Group, and the United States Breastfeeding Committee as Co-Steward of the COVID-19 Infant and Young Child Feeding Constellation. Dr. Palmquist has previously served as an International Lactation Consultants Association liaison to the United Nations. 

Dr. Palmquist teaches MHCH 780: Cultural Humility (Global Health Concentration) and Decolonizing Maternal and Child Health Research: Theory and Qualitative Methods (MCH students). She also lectures in the CGBI Mary Rose Tully Lactation Training Initiative for aspiring lactation consultants. She has presented her research at national and international academic conferences, and speaks to audiences of health care professionals and lay birth and breastfeeding supporters across the world.

Schedule a meeting with Dr. Palmquist.

Honors and Awards

Delta Omega, Theta Chapter, Faculty Inductee

2021, UNC Gillings School Global Public Health

National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Loan Repayment Award

2019-2020, National Institutes of Health

Teaching Innovation Award

2020, Gillings School of Global Public Health

William Lloyd Garrison Ally Award

2019, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE)

IBM Junior Faculty Development Award


Representative Courses

MHCH 780: Cultural Humility (Global Health Concentration)

MHCH 890: Decolonizing Maternal and Child Health Research: Theory and Qualitative Methods

Research Activities

Co-Principal Investigator: Breastfeeding Hospital-Based Quality Improvement Initiative.

Qualitative Research Investigator: Rapid Response for Moms: Improving Services for Telehealth. 

Principal Investigator: Becoming a Mother After Ebola.

Principal Investigator: NICU Stories Study.

Project Scientist: ENRICH Carolinas Expansion.

Equity Specialist and Training Specialist Reclaiming, Improving, and Sustaining Equity (RISE).

Service Activities

2020 MCH Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup.

2020 – 2023 Human Rights Seat, Members Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee (MPAAC) of the American Anthropological Association.

2020 – present Co-Steward, COVID-19 Infant and Young Child Feeding Constellation, United States Breastfeeding Committee.

2020 North Carolina Pregnancy & Continuity of Care During COVID-19 Taskforce.

2018 – present Disaster Response Advisory Group.

2018 – present Emergency Nutrition Network Infant Feeding in Emergencies (IFE) Core Group, Steering Committee.

2018 – present WHO/UNICEF Global Breastfeeding Collective.

Practice Activities

Maternal Telehealth Access Project: Collaboration and Innovation for Equity and Healthy Families Community Assessment and Qualitative Research Lead.

Joint Statement on Infant and Young Child Feeding in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States. United States Breastfeeding Committee, COVID-19 Infant and Young Child Feeding Constellation. Available

North Carolina Pregnancy & Continuity of Care During COVID-19 Task Force Recommendations. Released July 2, 2020. Available

Global Nutrition Cluster (GNCC) Template for Joint Statement on Infant and Young Child Feeding in the Context of COVI-19 Pandemic. [ENN IFE Core Group, Steering Committee]. April 1, 2020. Available

Lactation and Infant Feeding in Emergencies (L.I.F.E.™) Initiative, COVID-19 Resources. [Online resources] March 2020 - ongoing. Available

UNICEF Infant and Young Child Feeding in the Context of COVID-19 brief, No2 (v1). March 30, 2020. [IFE Core Group] Available

Lactation and Infant Feeding in Emergencies (L.I.F.E.™) Support Kit. Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute Resource. [Online resource bundle] 2018. Available

AMOS Health and Hope Nicaragua. Crianza con Amor (Parenting with Love) Project: Working to improve maternal and child feeding and caring practices in difficult socio-political contexts. A community-based participatory research project. April 2019 – December 2020.

Key Publications

Achieving breastfeeding equity and justice in Black communities: Past, present, and future. Asiodu IV, Bugg K, and Palmquist AEL‡. (2021). Breastfeeding Medicine, 16(6).
View publication

Experiences of menopause during incarceration. **Jaffe, E, Palmquist AEL, and Knittel A (2021). Menopause, 28(7).
View publication

Ready, Set, BABY Live: Virtual prenatal breastfeeding education for COVID-19. Palmquist AEL, Parry KC, Wouk K, Lawless GC, Smith JL, Smetana AR, Bourg JF, Hendricks MJ, and Sullivan CS. (2020). Journal of Human Lactation.
View publication

The COVID-19 liquid gold rush: Critical perspectives on human milk and SARS-CoV-2 Infection. Palmquist AEL, Asiodu IV, and Quinn EA.  (2020). American Journal of Human Biology.
View publication

When separation is not the answer: Breastfeeding mothers and infants affected by COVID-19. Tomori C, Gribble K, Palmquist AEL, Gross M, and Ververs MT. (2020). Maternal & Child Nutrition.
View publication

Maintaining safety and service provision in human milk banking: a call to action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shenker, N. and the Virtual Collaborative Network of Human Milk Banks and Associations. (2020). Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
View publication

“It was all taken away”: Lactation, embodiment, and resistance among mothers caring for their very-low-birth-weight preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Palmquist, AEL, Holdren S, and Fair C.  (2020). Social Science & Medicine.
View publication

Current trends in research on human milk exchange and infant feeding. Palmquist AEL, Perrin MT, Cassar-Uhl D, Gribble KD, Bond, AB, and Cassidy, T. (2019). Journal of Human Lactation, 35(3), 453-477.
View publication

Cooperative lactation and the mother-infant nexus. In: Halcrow S and Gowland R, editors. The Mother-Infant Nexus in Anthropology: Small Beginnings, Significant Outcomes. Palmquist AEL.  (2019). Springer.

Breastfeeding: New Anthropological Approaches. Tomori C, Palmquist AEL, and Quinn EA, Editors.  (2018). Routledge.


Board Cert, Clinical Lactation (IBCLC), UNC-CH, 2018

Trainee, MRTTI-Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2013

Postdoctoral Fellow, Global Health, Yale University, 2011

Postdoctoral Fellow, Social Network Methods, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, 2009

PhD, Anthropology, University of Hawaii, Manoa, 2006

MA, Anthropology, University of Hawaii, Manoa, 1997

BA, Anthropology, University of Louisville, Louisville KY, 1994

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