Principal Investigator  

Sera L. Young
sera.young(at)northwestern.eduAssistant Professor, Northwestern University, Department of Anthropology and Institute for Policy Research
Adjunct Curator, The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, ILB.A. Anthropology, University of Michigan

M.A. Medical Anthropology, University of Amsterdam
Ph.D. International Nutrition, Cornell University
Previous appointments at U. California Berkeley, U. California Davis, and U. California San Francisco



PhD Students  


Margaret Butler
B.A. Anthropology, Ithaca College

I am passionate about biocultural approaches to anthropological investigations of human health. I am interested in developing collaborative and interdisciplinary programs which provide support for low-income breastfeeding mothers in urban centers. My research interests include: infant and child development; maternal-child nutrition; breastfeeding; human health disparities; inequities in resource distribution; and structural violence.


Sarah Dumas

D.V.M. Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
B.A. Biology, Pomona College
Sarah E. Dumas is a PhD candidate studying international nutrition and epidemiology at Cornell University. Dr. Dumas’ research interest is in examining the connection between livestock production and human health and wellbeing. She has a specific interest in the design, implementation, and evaluation of livestock development interventions that promote food security and improved dietary quality in rural, resource-poor communities. Her current research is examining the impact of small-scale, semi-intensive egg production on maternal and child dietary quality and child growth in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. 


Patrick Mbullo

B.A. Anthropology, Maseno University, Kenya
M.A. Social Anthropology, York University

Director and Co-Founder of Partners in Community Transformation (PCT), Pamoja Community-Based Organization and Kit-Makayi Technical Training Institute, Kenya

Patrick is a Graduate Student in Anthropology at Northwestern University and a Co-Founder of Pamoja Community Based Organization in Kenya. Patrick is an experienced anthropologist grounded in medical and development anthropology with sound ethnographic research skills. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in, community HIV programming, and sustainable livelihoods projects. Patrick’s research interests include politics of development in the global South, maternal and child health, mental health, information technology for development, and community participation in research.


Vicky Santoso

B.S. Dietetics, University of Texas, Austin
M.S. Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

My dissertation research explores the role of intra-household gender equality, especially on household decision-making and task division, in ensuring optimum resource (both time and economic) allocation for child nutrition. This research is part of Singida Nutrition and Agroecology Project (SNAP), a participatory research project engaging farmers in Singida, Tanzania in sustainable agriculture practices (Agroecology), nutrition, and gender roles. My hope is to have this work inform future impact evaluations of nutrition policies and programs. 


Research Coordinators  


Shalean Collins
B.S./RD Nutritional Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
MPH Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

I am a public health dietitian interested in maternal and child nutrition in low-resource settings. Currently, I work with Dr. Young’s Pith Moromo/Pii Ngima research study in Kenya. Previously, I worked as a research study coordinator for Dr. Young’s PostNAPS research study in Gulu, Uganda. My research interests include maternal and child health and food and water insecurity.


Joshua Miller

B.S. Human Biology, Health & Society, Cornell University

With a passion for policy-driven maternal and child health research, I assist with the various projects that Dr. Young oversees. As a research coordinator, I manage, clean, and analyze data while helping to ensure the proper implementation of study protocols. Broadly, my interests include water (in)security, food (in)security, and their intersections as well as interactions.



Post-doctoral Researchers  


Vidya Venkataramanan
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Water Research and Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University (with Aaron Packman and Sera Young)
Ph.D. Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC Chapel Hill
MPH International Health, Boston University School of Public Health
BA International Relations, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences

My background is in international relations, global/public health, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH), with field research experience in India, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Uganda, Niger, Haiti, and the United States. Broadly, my research interests include a) implementation research, b) social and behavioral factors affecting public health and community development decisions, and c) environmental sustainability. Previously, I studied the implementation of rural, community-led total sanitation (CLTS) programs around Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. I have also worked as a program evaluation specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Public Health Foundation of India in TB, HIV, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. At Northwestern University, I am excited to use mixed methods to study community perceptions and impacts of “green” stormwater management interventions to prevent urban flooding in the South Side of Chicago, as well as household water insecurity experiences worldwide.


Godfred Boateng

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition, Northwestern University
Ph.D. Sociology, University of Western Ontario, London, CanadaMPhil. Sociology, University of Ghana/Universitetet I Tromsø, Norway
B.A. Sociology and Psychology, University of Ghana

My background is in Sociology with a specialization in Work, Occupations, and Professions. I have also engaged in research on International development with a focus on maternal health care, women’s empowerment, and food insecurity. More specifically, I have examined individual and structural factors affecting near-miss cases in Ghana and the predictors of access to antenatal and postnatal services in different African countries. At Cornell, I work with the Young Research Group on Maternal and Child Nutrition focusing on the Kenyan birth cohort study. Three questions drive my research: (1) how do maternal food insecurity and malnutrition affect fetal development, and how does this relationship vary by HIV serostatus (2) what are the effects of food and nutritional insecurity on the physical and mental well-being of HIV positive and negative women (3) does fetal malnourishment affect postnatal growth and susceptibility to non-communicable diseases. Find out more about my work here and here.

  Paula Pebsworth
ppebsworth(at)mac.comPostdoctoral Researcher, University of Texas,
San AntonioB.A. Biology, University of Iowa
M.A. Biology, State University of New York
Ph.D. Primatology, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University

Yolanda Brooks

Post-Doctoral Associate, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, with Ruth Richardson and Sera Young

B.S. Environmental Biology/Microbiology, Michigan State University
Ph.D. Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University

Broadly, my research studies how fecal pollution in aquatic environments can affect the environment and public health. I am also interested in the analysis and design of new technologies to reduce fecal pollution in potable water supplies. Previously, I investigated how the persistence of genetic markers from fecal indicators in water samples were influenced by storage duration, temperature, and storage in liquid form or attached to a solid matrix. I also examined how historical concentrations of fecal indicators in sediment cores from the Lake St. Clair watershed, Michigan, were correlated to historical measurements of the human population, nutrient loading, river discharge, and air temperature.At Cornell, I will be investigating how the quality of drinking water affects the health outcomes of participants in the study cohort in Kenya. Specifically, I will be designing a molecular method to analyze for the presence and quantity of pathogens in water samples slated for household use.


Undergraduate Students  

Nihmotallahi Adebayo Amy Lin
Casey Benzaken Sophia Olmos
Kathleen Clark Hayley Platt
Max Godart Anna Scarbrough
Tracy Guo Mira Wang
Jordan Harris Julia Yeam
Brooke Hassan brookehassan2018(at)