Ruth Fitzgerald’s research answers questions such as how moral reasoning influences the decision to terminate pregnancies, the emotional experience of IVF scientists, how Down syndrome is portrayed in the media or whether heritable deafness should be reversed through genetic means.
As a medical anthropologist, she has put many health issues into the New Zealand social and political context, especially biotechnologies such as genetic testing. Fitzgerald’s research covers a wide range of topics and also uses a wide range of research techniques, often in interdisciplinary teams. One project explored the everyday ethical thinking of people who live at the intersections of reproductive, genetic and moral choices. Fitzgerald is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Otago.
In 2015 Fitzgerald was awarded the Royal Society’s Te Rangi Hiroa Medal for her contribution to medical anthropology in areas of social and political importance for New Zealand.