Broadly, my research focuses on the relationships between environmental change, health, and well-being. Read more about some of my recent projects below:
Much of my ongoing work examines how climatic conditions affect outcomes including food security, education, and maternal and child health among populations in low- and middle-income countries. For example, a paper in Social Science & Medicine discovered that in utero and early life climatic conditions are important predictors of child nutrition in Ethiopia. This finding is critical in light of climate change given that early life nutrition has implications for long-term health and well-being. A new grant, funded by the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in collaboration with Clark Gray at UNC-Chapel Hill, will link high-resolution climate data to longitudinal household survey data from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Nigeria to understand factors associated with vulnerability and resilience to food insecurity after climate shocks. Broadly, the findings from this work will help inform policies to improve health and nutrition among vulnerable populations in the face of climate change.
CLIMATE CHANGE, FOOD SECURITY, AND CHILD HEALTH
This set of projects centers on the social consequences of dam-induced displacement. Millions of people are displaced each year when the construction of hydropower dams floods their homes and land, with potentially hazardous implications for long-term health and well-being. My dissertation examined the displacement of rural farmers due to construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon, and involved the collection of longitudinal household survey and in-depth interview data. Papers from this project examined topics including how displaced households made migration and livelihood decisions, how they utilized social capital during the migration process, and how displacement affected household wealth and well-being. A newly funded NIH grant, on which I serve as PI, will link pre-displacement household survey data to post-displacement in-depth interview data from urban mothers displaced by the Belo Monte Dam as well as from a group of mothers living nearby who were not displaced. I will investigate the ways that women and children experience and respond to displacement over time, focusing specifically on children’s well-being as well as maternal, infant, and reproductive health. The findings from this set of projects have important implications for how we think about displacement caused by future development projects as well as migration driven by climate change.
This project, in collaboration with Clark Gray, examined the effects of climate variability on schooling outcomes among households in tropical countries. Investments in education serve as an important pathway out of poverty, yet reduced agricultural productivity due to climate shocks or environmental degradation may affect school enrollment if children experience poorer health or nutrition in early childhood, are required to participate in household income generation, or if households can no longer pay for school-related expenses. One paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined how climate change affects education in countries across the global tropics. We found that children in Southeast Asia and West Africa are particularly vulnerable to hotter and drier conditions during early childhood, while children from hurricane-prone countries in Central America and the Caribbean are vulnerable to above average rainfall. These findings again suggest that adverse climatic events can impact early life health and socioeconomic conditions, which in turn may affect subsequent educational attainment.
This National Science Foundation grant, led by Guangqing Chi at Penn State, examines the role of bridges as critical infrastructure for remote Alaska Native communities in light of climate change. Many remote communities in the Arctic and sub-Arctic rely on water bodies for transit, particularly frozen rivers and lakes in the winter. Climate change has led to increasingly unstable and unpredictable ice conditions, which has in turn undermined the ability for communities to safely hunt and forage for traditional foods, access healthcare, and reach other essential services. Bridges can help remote communities better access resources in light of climate change, and this project seeks to understand the relationship between bridge construction and well-being.
HYDROPOWER AND THE DYNAMICS OF DISPLACEMENT IN THE BRAZILIAN AMAZON
CLIMATE CHANGE AND EDUCATION IN THE GLOBAL TROPICS