Students in Global Food Security

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PhD Candidates


Farzaneh Barak

PhD candidate (Human Nutrition)
Gendered household decision-making dynamics within fish farming interventions in rural Uganda: Using participatory video

Farzaneh is a FRQSC-funded doctoral student in the School of Human Nutrition at McGill University. A supervisee of Dr. Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez, she is connected to the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security as a research assistant on the IDRC-funded project “Harnessing dietary nutrients of under-utilized fish and fish processing by-products to reduce micronutrient deficiencies among vulnerable groups in Uganda – NutriFish.” During her doctoral studies (2016-2018), Farzaneh has also worked on two Global Affairs Canada- funded projects in collaboration with CARE Canada taking place in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

Her current research investigates gendered household decision-making dynamics within NutriFish project in rural Uganda. More specifically, she is interested in detailed understanding of household decision-making processes and their association with household food security and the nutritional status of women and children. Additionally, she will investigate gendered dynamics of decision-making through participatory videos and developing community and policy dialogues under supervision of Prof. Claudia Mitchell and connecting to the Participatory Cultures Lab.


  • Fonds de recherche du Québec Société et culture (FRQSC) (49,000.00 CAD), 2019-202: Doctoral award, 1st ranked proposal by the evaluation committee (Sociology/Demography committee)
  • McGill University, School of Human Nutrition (14,400.00 CAD), 2018: Graduate Excellence Award
  • McGill University, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (4,000.00 CAD), 2018: Graduate Mobility Award
  • Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation (500.00 US), 2018: Travel Fellowship Award
  • McGill University, Institute for Health and Social Policy (4,000.00 CAD), 2017: Graduate Award Program (GAP)
  • McGill University, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (4,000.00 CAD), 2017: Graduate Mobility Award:
  • McGill University, School of Human Nutrition (7,800.00 CAD), 2016: Dietetics and Human Nutrition Award
  • Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran (20,000.00 CAD), 2010: Graduate Research Award
  • Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran (5,000.00 CAD), 2007: Undergraduate Research Innovation Award

Loloah Chamoun

PhD student (Human Nutrition)
Evaluating the effectiveness of a palm weevil larvae food fortification on the iron status of women of reproductive age in Ghana.

Loloah holds a Bachelor’s of Science with distinction in Food Chemistry from McGill University, as well as a Master’s of Science in Public and Environmental Health, with a specialization in Toxicology and Risk Analysis from Université de Montréal. Her Master’s project focused on prioritizing the most hazardous pesticides for biological monitoring in agricultural sectors in a Northern-African country, through the establishment of a hazard index. Loloah led McGill’s team which earned place at the “Developing Solutions for Developing Countries” competition in Chicago in 2015. Her team developed an instant hummus mix that incorporated insects and served to alleviate malnutrition among Syrian Refugees. After having been exposed to the issues related to food assistance and nutrition in emergencies, Loloah became passionate about developing innovative, sustainable and climate-smart technologies that will help fight malnutrition and food insecurity while adapting to climate change. She started her PhD at McGill in Human Nutrition last January 2018, and her research will aim to assess the effectiveness of entomophagy on reducing the prevalence of anemia in women.

Awards: McGill Young Alumni Distinguished Award, Dobson Cup Award, IFT Travel Awards, Bieler Internship Award, McGill J W McConnel Scholarship.

Julien Malard

PhD candidate (Integrated Water Resources Management)
System Dynamics Modelling of Food Insecurity in Guatemala

Julien's research centres on the use of participatory modelling to assess agricultural development sustainability, on the development of agro-ecological simulation models for integrated pest management design, and on analysing the interactions between these two spheres. This research (in partnership with IARNA, Universidad Rafael Landívar) includes two case studies of agricultural development, one sufficiency-based and one market-based, in rural indigenous Guatemala (K'iche' and Tz'olöj Ya'), as well as fieldwork on integrated pest management conducted at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

Nnedi Nnedimma

PhD candidate (Human Nutrition)
Post-harvest technologies and food security in four Sub-Saharan African countries

Nnedimma holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and a M.Sc. in Food Processing and Engineering from McGill University. During her Masters, she studied the thermostability of cassava linamarase as influenced by temperature and heating time. The results were disseminated in two oral presentations in Halifax, Canada, and Cape Town, South Africa. She also worked as a consultant with Micronutrient Initiative, and a community activist with Justice Alimentaire Montreal (JAM). In this capacity, she co-supervised two groups of graduating undergraduate students in the McGill School of Environment (MSE) as they conducted research on urban food systems in Montreal. For her doctoral research, Nnedimma, is part of two research projects in collaboration with CARE Canada and with funding from Global Affairs Canada, taking place in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. The specific aim of these projects is to improve the nutrition status of women of reproductive age and children under five years old. Specifically, her research will focus on the gender dynamics of post-harvest management and its effects on food security and women’s dietary diversity. She is also investigating the suitability of spent grain for oyster mushroom cultivation. Additionally, she will study the influence of different growth substrates and UV exposure on the vitamin A and vitamin D content of these mushrooms.

Luisa Samayoa Figueroa

PhD student (Human Nutrition)
A youth-led counseling model to improve nutrition and development in children under two years of age in rural Guatemala

Luisa holds a B. Sc. in Human Nutrition from San Francisco de Quito University in Ecuador (1998) and a Master in Development Studies from Del Valle University in Guatemala (2006). She worked at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama –(INCAP) in Guatemala from 2000 to 2004. From 2005 she worked for 12 years as a Food Security and Nutrition consultant in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Guatemala office, supporting the rural development, agriculture and food and nutrition security projects to incorporate nutrition-sensitive activities and include indicators to measure it. She also worked for one year with the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) Project III/FHI360 in Guatemala, specifically in a project intended to validate a series of food-based recommendations for woman and children in the highlands of Guatemala. Her experience has been in Food Security, Nutrition and monitoring and evaluation.

Luisa’s doctoral research is part of a collaborative alliance with the international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger (ACF) in Guatemala in a Grand Challenge Canada Project, under the Saving Brains program. The project “Youth in action: developing a counselling system/model led by Chortí Maya youth to improve maternal and child health in communities of the municipality of Jocotan, department of Chiquimula” is being implemented in Guatemala. The expected impact of this project is that children under two years of age will be more likely to achieve their potential for growth and development due to their family’s increased access to appropriate counselling, with messages that are adapted to their practices and culture, without stigma, and which will reclaim ancestral knowledge and support practices for positive deviance. To do so, she will be using a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Her research interests include stunting, and infant and young child feeding practices, in the context of high levels of malnutrition and food insecurity.

Awards: NUFFIC Scholarship to attend the Training Program on Food and Nutrition Security in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Diploma with honours.

Akankasha Sen

PhD student (Human Nutrition)
MSc: Dietary Diversity and Child Nutritional Status in Malawi

Akankasha holds Master’s degree in Biological Anthropology from Panjab University India, where she assessed the nutritional and growth status of adolescent girls in the high altitude village of the Himalaya. She works as junior research assistant in Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research Chandigarh, (PGIMER) India, in pediatrics department, where she gained the knowledge of child growth, maturation, anthropometry and nutrition. Her research interest involves the nutritional anthropology which the interplay between human biology, cultural beliefs, nutritional status and food security, and how changes in the former affect the latter. In her second Master’s degree she is contributing in GROW and SANI research projects which are conducting in four African countries (Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia), in collaboration with CARE Canada. Assessing food insecurity is important part of Growing Nutrition for Mothers and Children (GROW) and South Africa Nutrition Initiative (SANI) project. Therefore, using the data from these projects she is estimating the reliability and validity of recent developed tool called Food Insecurity Experiences Scale (FIES) developed by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization Voices of the Hungry project (FAO-VOH). The objectives of her study were to assess the psychometric properties of FIES for measuring food security by using the with Item Response Theory (Rasch molding) and examines the prevalence of food insecurity (FI) in women.

Kate Sinclair

PhD candidate (Human Nutrition)
Exploring Issues Related to Food Insecurity and Women's Autonomy in Colombia

Kate received her Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from McGill University in 2014. Her M.Sc. research focused on the relationship between livestock possession and food security among smallholder farmers in Haiti. She holds a B.Sc. in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Ryerson University and is a Registered Dietitian with the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec (OPDQ). Kate’s doctoral research is part of a larger IDRC funded project entitled “Scaling-up synergetic strategies in agriculture and nutrition for food security in rural communities of Colombia”. The goal of the project is to scale up the adoption of improved potato varieties with high nutritional qualities for Colombian consumers and potato producers in an operational strategy that links agriculture to nutrition. Her current research aims to explore issues related to food insecurity and women’s autonomy in Colombia. In order to do so she will be using a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Her research interests include project evaluation and women’s empowerment in the context of food security.

Awards: IDRC Doctoral Award, IICA Research and Internship Assistance Program, Walter M. Stewart Postgraduate Scholarship in Agriculture, Canadian Home Economics Association Fellowship, McGill Graduate Excellence Award and McGill Graduate Mobility Award.

Pauley Tedoff

PhD candidate (Epidemiology)
The Effect of Gender Equity on Food Security and Nutrition Status of Women and Children under Five in Four Countries in Southern Africa

Pauley holds a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and a Master's of Science in Environmental Health and has worked in the overarching field of international development since 2006. In 2009, after several years designing and implementing social inclusion programs in low-income countries, Pauley formally transitioned to the global health sector. She has worked for various ministries of health, intergovernmental organizations, international NGOs, and academic institutions in North America, South America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her desire to conduct mixed methods research that has implications for both public health and the natural environment led her to seek out opportunities at the Institute for Global Food Security. For her doctoral research, Pauley is thrilled to be working with the Institute on its collaboration with CARE Canada, implementing a four-county study in Southern Africa. More specifically, her analysis will apply advanced psychometric methods to elucidate the complex interrelations between social determinants, food security status, and nutrition status of children under five and their mothers. 

MSc Candidates

Rosa Elena Ponce Alcalá

MSc student (Human Nutrition)
Food Security in Mexico

Elena holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from the “Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro” (Mexico). From 2012 to 2013 she carried out her social service through FAO in PSAZR “Proyecto de Seguridad Alimentaria para Zonas Rurales”- Food Security Project for Rural Areas (Formerly PESA “Proyecto Estratégico de Seguridad Alimentaria” - Strategical Project for Food Security) in high marginalized communities in Mexico. She continued working on the same project for five years in different states of her country as facilitator specialist on nutrition and also as coordinator on the rural development agencies that carries out this program. Her research interests include the link between food security situation and chronic diseases related to diet, and food and nutritional security policies and interventions.

Thannmughi Sivanmalaiappan Parameshwaran

MSc student (Bioresource Engineering)
Food waste reduction and Food security

Thannmughi is a MSc student in Bioresource Engineering with a concentration in Integrated Food and Bioprocessing (IFB). She completed her Bachelor of Technology in Food Process Engineering from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in India. During that time, she worked on a project to 'Design and develop juice extractor for Goose berries' using pneumatic systems semi-automated feeding and ejection mechanism to preserve the nutritional quality of the berries. Under the mentorship of Dr. Patrick Cortbaoui, Thannmughi's current research focuses on reduction of waste in food commodities and its relationship with food security to promote sustainable food systems in a globalized world. By that, she is determined to create feasible solutions to address the existing global problems in food security and safety.

Ana María Sansón

MSc student (Human Nutrition)
The relationship between malnutrition in vulnerable children, the gut microbiota and possible interventions needed in food security programs

Ana María Sansón has a bachelor degree in Nutrition and Dietetic from the Pontificia Univiersidad Javeriana- Colombia and a graduate degree in Project Management from Universidad del Cauca- Colombia. Her professional career started in Pasto (Colombia), in the public health field with the implementation of programs and plans liketheMunicipality’s Nutritional And Food Security Plan, the National Program for the Prevention and Reduction of Nutritional Anemia and the Low Birth Weight Prevention Program. She started her Masters degree in September 2018, and her research project will focus on characterizing the relationship between malnutrition in vulnerable children, the gut microbiota and possible interventions needed in food security programs.

Drashti Zaveri

MSc student (Human Nutrition)
How food wastage leads to a double burden of malnutrition

Drashti Zaveri holds a bachelor's and master’s degree in Foods and Nutrition from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and has won an award for her work on " Effect of Counselling & NHE material on Remission of Diabetes Mellitus post-Bariatric Surgery - Case Trial” in DIACON 2018. In India, she worked as a nutritionist in GOQii. To get an opportunity for exploring the field of nutrition in a more vibrant way, she decided to opt for an international graduate degree. Therefore, currently, she is pursuing her Master’s degree in the field of Human Nutrition from McGill University. She has been volunteering in the Global Food Security club of McGill University, were the main motto is to raise awareness and organize initiatives focusing on food security issues at the local and global level, but on larger scale strives for sustainable development as being to zero hunger. She has a passion to address the urgent needs of critical health issues in society, which is neglected due to exploding urbanization. She was born and raised in India, so she knows the severity of food insecurity affecting public health. She is aware of the sensitivity of poor sustainable food systems and what are its consequences. Based on her interest, she decided to work under a project, focusing on how food wastage leads to a double burden of malnutrition under the mentorship of Dr. Patrick Cortbaoui. Through this project, she aims in bringing up the awareness and show the gravity of food wastage at every step from post-harvest to the pre-consumer stage of a food supply chain that leads to a health crisis. Drashti sees herself working in public health, closely with communities in need and make a positive impact in the society.

Ana Francisca Jijón

Bachelor student (Urban Studies), Department of Geography, McGill University

I am an undergraduate student at the Department of Geography at McGill University, majoring in Urban Studies. I am completing a minor in Sociology and Art History. My current research focuses on the development of urban/community agriculture in marginalized communities in the northern coastal region of Ecuador, and their effect on people’s self-esteem, social stability and nutrition. My research is supervised under the mentorship of Dr. Cortbaoui, Managing Director of the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security at McGill, and is supported by the McGill McBurney Fellowship. My research shows that undernutrition and lack of food accessibility is not a main issue in the coastal region of Ecuador. Rather, the biggest concern is people’s social and psychological instability due to self-denigration and local crime, young pregnancy, family dysfunction and drug consumption. In-depth interviews with the participants of the garden project in Nueva Esperanza, a marginalized community in Esmeraldas, show that the community farm has had a positive effect on their social stability and self-esteem. Working together in the garden has helped to foster friendships and cooperation between neighbours and reinforcing their sense of community. Besides, the garden helps participants to gain access to food and keep a healthy nutrition, while being an economic support.


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