Principal Investigator  

Sera L. Young


Assistant Professor, Northwestern University, Department of Anthropology and Institute for Policy Research

Adjunct Curator, The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL

B.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

Graduate Students  


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.



Mbullo 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

Both as a medical and developmental anthropologist Patrick has a wealth of knowledge and experience in project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, community organizing, community HIV/AIDS programming and sustainable livelihoods projects. His 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.

Post-doctoral Researchers

DSC_4825 Godfred Boateng

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition, Northwestern University

B.A. Sociology and Psychology, University of Ghana
MPhil. Sociology, University of Ghana/Universitetet I Tromsø, Norway
Ph.D. Sociology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada

My background is in Sociology with 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 does 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
Pebsworth Paula Pebsworth

Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Texas, San Antonio

B.A. Biology, University of Iowa
M.A. Biology, State University of New York
Ph.D. Primatology, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University
KF Stintson2 Katie Fiorella

Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellow, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future with Sera Young and Christopher B. Barrett's research groups

A.B. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
MPH Epidemiology, Certificate in Nutrition, University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. Environmental Science, Policy Management, University of California, Berkeley

My research aims to understand the interactions among environmental change and livelihood, food, and nutrition security. My works is focused in fishery and agricultural systems and the households that are reliant on the environment to access food and income. In my research at Cornell, I will work with an organization that works to improve the yields of small-scale farmers in Kenya to understand when improvements in farmers’ yields lead to higher food security and better nutrition for farmer families. My project tries to understand how environmental factors – rainfall, drought – affect pathways from improved production to nutrition outcomes, and how changing agricultural production affects the environment. This project will contribute to the development of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, as well as programs and policies that foster integrated improvements in environmental sustainability and livelihood, food, and nutrition security. Find out more about my on-going work here.
IMG_6878 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 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.


Widen_headshot_9_2015 Elizabeth (Beth) Widen, PhD, RD

Research Scientist, University of Texas at Austin
B.S. Dietetics, Miami University
Ph.D. Nutrition Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Columbia University

Dr. Widen is a nutritional epidemiologist with expertise in nutrition science, epidemiology, global health, obesity, maternal and child health and clinical translational research. Dr. Widen's research program applies an interdisciplinary life course approach to the intersection of nutrition sciences with reproductive, perinatal, pediatric and nutritional epidemiology. The goal of Dr. Widen's research is to develop and apply advanced analytic methods and interdisciplinary approaches to rigorously evaluate the role of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life on short and long-term health. Dr. Widen's research is funded by a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and a Thrasher Research Fund Early Career Award.

Dr. Widen has collaborated with the Young group since 2013 on the Pre- and Post-NAPS Study and the Pith Moromo cohort. Learn more about her ongoing work here.

Undergraduate Students, Winter 2017

Joshua Miller  jdm437(at)cornell.edu
Lauren Blacker lsb236(at)cornell.edu
JoAnn Efobi jofobi2017(at)u.northwestern.edu
Priya Garigipati priyagarigipati2017(at)u.northwestern.edu
Tracy Guo j4i9d7(at)u.northwestern.edu
Brooke Hassan brookehassan2018(at)u.northwestern.edu
Jordan Harris jordanharris2018(at)u.northwestern.edu
Amy Lin   amylin2018(at)u.northwestern.edu
Ashleigh Maclean ashleighmaclean2018(at)u.northwestern.edu
Sophia Olmos sophiaolmos2018(at)u.northwestern.edu
Emily Umuhire g5g816(at)u.northwestern.edu
Julia Yeam jooheeyeam2018(at)u.northwestern.edu