I’m Heather Rose Walker and I would feign to call myself a methodologist! I lead qualitative research at Medical Group Analytics at the University of Utah Health. I hold a Ph.D. in Disability Studies from the University of Illinois Chicago (2019). Using my degrees, I work on projects with teams across our health system, from the NICU to general surgery. In my role at the U, I also am teaching an undergraduate-level disability studies course and beginning to market a recently published book.

I love presenting my research and perspectives at both large and small gatherings. Please use the contact form to get in touch with me about speaking opportunities.

Thanks for visiting this site!

The blog of this website brings concepts and studies from disability studies into dialogue with community narratives and understandings.


I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2001 and began blogging about my life with diabetes at www.unexpectedblues.com in 2012. Unexpected Blues was a way for me to advocate the only way I knew how, by sharing my story. There, I explored being 20-something and documented my relationship with diabetes as it morphed and changed. I was working at Diabetes Hands Foundation when I started the blog, and wrote about conferences and research of which I was a part. I was using these conferences, research opportunities, and writing spaces to figure out where I belonged as a member of the Diabetes Online Community. How could I best contribute? What skills could I use to give back?

I poured my heart and soul into the diabetes community, and the more I did that, the more questions I had. What is it about the Diabetes Online Community that works? What brings everyone to the table, and what makes us stay? Does being here help us like we think it does? And what are we anyway?

 In 2015 I was accepted to graduate school and began my career as a researcher in Disability Studies. It took a very short while for me to realize that my aptitude for research is how I can best contribute. My curiosity and tendency to follow the rabbit down a wormhole of theory and practice can be my way of giving back. What I am learning should not be held here, reserved for only those with access to the Ivory Tower (academic trenches)! Research should be accessible to everyone, especially the health advocates who are tirelessly writing their story to challenge illness-stigma. This research belongs to all of us, and we all ought to have a say in how it is disseminated.

The purpose of The Chronic Scholar blog is to bring the work of health advocates and newly emerging research together in one place. My purpose is to share what I am learning and how concepts discussed here, *about* patients can help patients’ advocacy efforts.