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Lauren ​van der Walt, PhD, MPH, MA

Lecturer, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health
  • Executive Director, Optio
Address: PMB 464
2425 Channing Way, Ste. B
Berkeley, CA 94704


Dr. Lauren van der Walt is a Lecturer in the School of Public Health at Berkeley. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Optio, a non-profit organization that develops tools and strategies to advance the rights of women and girls in the United States and Latin America. Lauren has worked for a number of non-governmental organizations including UNICEF, the Berkeley Human Rights Center, and Venture Strategies for Health and Development. Her work focuses primarily on using policy reform and harm reduction strategies to improve women’s access to reproductive health in restrictive settings.

Research Interests

  • Reducing barriers that prevent access to family planning, maternal health services, and safe abortion
  • Improving access to reproductive health services through digital health technologies
  • Reducing maternal deaths through the use of misoprostol
  • Promoting reproductive health and rights through proactive policy and legislation


  • PhD – Public Health Policy
    University of California, Berkeley, 2018
  • MPH – Public Health
    University of California, Berkeley, 2012
  • MA – Medical Anthropology
    University of South Florida, 2011
  • BA – Anthropology
    Connecticut College, 2005

Courses Taught

    • Fall | PH181
    • Population and Poverty
    • Fall & Spring | PH101
    • A Sustainable World: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Fall & Spring | PH 196
    • Special Topics in Public Health
    • Spring | PH 150E
    • Community Health and Development