Dana Walrath, PhD, MFA

Writer, Artist, Anthropologist

Reducing poverty across the lifecycle and shifting the narratives around all forms of cognitive diversity will change the experience of dementia globally.

Current Work

Dana Walrath, a writer, artist, and anthropologist, likes to cross borders and disciplines with her work. She is working on a sequel to her acclaimed graphic memoir Aliceheimer's titled Between Alice and the Eagle and on the libretto for the translation of Aliceheimer's into an opera. Her interactive installation The Book of Genocides was featured at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. 

Personal Hero

Those who can let go and trust and care for others

Words of Strength

Creating innovative combinations and connections


The current pandemic has rendered the social and political roots of sickness impossible to ignore. Reducing poverty across the lifecycle and shifting the narratives around all forms of cognitive diversity will change the experience of dementia globally.


Dana is working on a sequel to her graphic memoir Aliceheimer’s that will blend personal memoir with an anthropological discourse on the end of life, stigma, gender, labor flows, and dementia across the globe.


Linking with fellows from across the global Atlantic Fellow programs has led to new collaborations on narrative, the arts, justice, and health. Dana was delighted to have co-authored an “art of medicine” essay (Lancet 2019) with Dr. Brian Lawlor on the social change that dementia can set into motion.


To help overcome the fear and stigma surrounding all mind troubles in the United States, her work uses visual and verbal storyteliing to shift the dominant narratives and improve the lives of people living with dementia and other forms of cognitive diversity.

Education & Experience

After years of using stories and art to teach medical students at the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine, she spent 2012–2013 as a Fulbright Scholar in Armenia completing Like Water on Stone, her award-winning verse novel about the Armenian genocide. Her graphic memoir, Aliceheimer’s about life with her mother, Alice, and dementia, was featured in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and on National Public Radio. Dana Walrath holds a PhD degree in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA degree in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA degree in visual arts and biology from Barnard College, Columbia University. After her mother and dementia moved in with her, she began her movement away from academia to her current work as a writer, visual artist, comics maker, anthropologist, speaker, and storyteller.

Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI)
Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health
University of Pennsylvania
Vermont College of Fine Arts
Barnard College, Columbia University
Visual arts and biology

Awards & Honors

Vermont Arts Council/National Endowment of the Arts
Creation Grant
University College London
Visiting Scholar/Artist
University of Georgia
Distinguished Artist Award
Vermont College of Fine Arts
Vermont Book Award Finalist
Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG)
Notable Book for a Global Society Award
Bank Street College of Education
Bank Street Best Book of 2015 with Outstanding Merit for Poetry and Historical Fiction
CBC Notable Trade Book for Social Studies
Young Adult Library Services Association
YALSA Best Fiction Nominee
Middle East Outreach Council
Middle East Outreach Council Award
Sunny Dragon International Graphic Humor Festival, Yerevan, Armenia
Silver Medal
The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES)
“The Narrative Anthropology of Ageing in Armenia”
Fulbright Scholar
Vermont Arts Council
Artists Development Grant
Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
Vermont artist/writer grant


Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Mike Hanrahan, Roman Romero Ortuno, Dana Walrath and Magda Kaczmarska

Vascular Dementia and The Arts in Dementia Care

July 19, 2021