CV Refresh
Clarissa Surek-Clark
Clarissa Surek-Clark


I am a sociolinguist, translator, and interpreter. I am currently a senior lecturer in the Department of English and a researcher in the Department of Sociology at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio. I am an affiliate of the Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures at OSU, where I teach translation and interpreting. Sam Clark and I collaborate in life and various professional endeavors.

Translation and Interpreting

I have been a professional translator and interpreter since 1992. I am a member of the American Translators Association (ATA). I am one of a small number ATA members who are certified to translate in both directions between Portuguese and English. I am a Certified Court Interpreter in the State of Ohio - credentialed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. The Washington State Courts also recognize this credential.

Verbal Autopsy

I am a member of the openVA Team that works to improve verbal autopsy (VA). VA is an oral interview-based method to ascertain cause of death in settings where traditional autopsy is not possible. Roughly two-thirds of global deaths are not given a cause because they are either not registered or traditional autopsy is not possible. This limits our ability to understand what is causing people to die.

Since 2015 I have been observing and studying the VA interview in East and Southern Africa and Brazil to understand: 1) how VA interviews are conducted in various settings, 2) how interviewers are trained, and 3) how multiple languages, translation, and interpreting feature in the context of VA. For the past five years, the openVA Team has been supported by an NIH R01 that I contributed to writing. Work on the VA interview is essential to improving the comparability of causes of death ascertained by VA.

For this work, I collaborate closely with the health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS) sites that are part of the ALPHA Network in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.


Linguists are not necessarily polyglots. Brazilian Portuguese is my native language, and I have had experience with European varieties of Portuguese while living in Southern Africa. I have been an English speaker since 1986. I am proficient in Spanish and conversant in Zulu.

Other Interests

I am enthusiastic about international education and led study abroad groups to South Africa in my previous role at the University of Washington. A few OSU students have accompanied me to Brazil and Malawi to do VA-related work.


clarissa /at/