Led by Dr. Sera Young, the Young Research Group seeks to better understand the determinants of healthy mothers and children across diverse geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic contexts. Our group supports diversity in representation, creativity in thinking, and collaborative outreach in our efforts to address barriers to good health.




Household water insecurity.

While we know how to measure household food insecurity, our understanding of both how to measure household level water insecurity and what its consequences are is in its infancy. To address this, we are collaborating with many researchers across the globe to create a cross-culturally validate household water insecurity scale. To learn more about this project, please visit our website.


Food insecurity.

What is the role of food insecurity in adverse maternal and child health and nutritional outcomes, especially in the context of HIV? What are the types of effects, the magnitude of effects, and which of these are modifiable? How can food insecurity be mitigated amongst women and children in low-resource settings? To answer these questions we have observational and intervention studies in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.


A conceptual framework that guides our lab’s understanding of the bidirectional links between food insecurity and HIV/AIDS.┬ádoi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.012070



Is pica an adaptive response to health challenges? What is the relationship between pica and iron deficiency? In our data from East Africa, North America, and elsewhere, we know that non-food cravings and iron deficiency are associated, but the nature of the relationship is unclear. We are using a variety of in vitro and in vivo animal studies, as well as observational cohorts, to ascertain the mechanisms underlying this relationship, and to test the two major physiological hypotheses about pica: supplementation and detoxification.

Consumed earths may protect against toxins and pathogens by (a) strengthening the mucosal layer by binding with mucin and/or stimulating mucin production, thereby reducing the permeability of the gut wall, and (b) binding to toxins and pathogens directly, thereby rendering them unabsorbable by the gut. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.012809.104713