Navajo researcher’s work highlights his community’s resilience during pandemic

Author: Kanaga Rajan
September 15, 2022
Shiprock rock formation near Denetclaw’s hometown in New Mexico

Wilfred Denetclaw shifted from cell biology to epidemiology to understand how COVID-19 impacted his community

“I was raised in the traditional Navajo way of living and I grew up learning how to be a sheep herder and a farmer. But now I’m a cell and molecular biologist,” said San Francisco State University Associate Professor of Biology Wilfred Denetclaw. “But the people that I come from are still living that way.”

Seeing initial reports of COVID-19 in his community, Denetclaw — who normally studies embryonic muscle development — pivoted to studying COVID-19. His findings were recently published in PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science ONE).

“When the outbreak occurred in March 2020, it just seemed like more and more cases were popping up all around the Navajo Nation area on the New Mexico and Arizona side of my reservation,” explained Denetclaw, who grew up in Shiprock, New Mexico.

Read the SF State News story.