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PhD Students

LCIRAH’s PhD students are an integral part of our commitment to building the next generation of agri-health researchers.

LCIRAH provides its PhD students with an inter-disciplinary learning environment that compliments and enriches their projects through monthly meetings and participation in the Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy Week.

  • SOAS

Development, Environment and Policy

Title: Forests and food systems under palm oil driven deforestation and agrarian change in West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Dominic’s PhD project is a collaboration with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and aims to investigate the mechanisms through which landscape change drives dietary changes in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The project is located in Kapuas Hulu district, an area experiencing rapid agrarian transitions from traditional forest-based agricultural livelihoods towards plantation agriculture mainly comprising of oil palm.

The project is divided into three parts. The first part explores the effects of landscape change on food availability, and determines the potential nutritional consequences for a range of land use change scenarios. Land use change scenarios will be generated using existing GIS studies combined with expert consultation and the nutritional consequences modelled using the linear programming tool Optifood.

The second part of the project explores the role that changes in livelihoods has on women’s time use, and consequently on decisions made relating to food consumption. This part combines qualitative research with 24-hour recall time use surveys. The final part of the project aims to establish the relative importance of different agriculture-nutrition pathways upon changing diets. This part utilises Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) to identify key drivers of dietary changes.

For more information please contact Dominic Rowland at:
638171@soas.ac.uk

  • LSHTM

Department of Population Health

Title: The role of sustainable diets for water security in India

Human food consumption is the main driver of global freshwater use. The water used in the production of diets can range from around 2000 to 4000 litre per person per day, depending on the diet pattern and where the crops are grown (Harris et al., 2019). Asian diets are the most dependant on irrigation from ground and surface water reserves.

In India, agriculture accounts for 90% of India’s freshwater use. However, groundwater depletion is already a concern in some areas, and climate change may affect water availability and distribution. A growing population and the nutrition transition in India is increasing the water requirements in agriculture, while unhealthy diets are quickly becoming one of the leading causes of death.

Sustainable diets are those that consider human health and the environment while respecting social and economic conditions. In the case of India, sustainable dietary changes provide a significant opportunity to reduce water use and improve diet related health, however it’s not clear what the changes would be or how they would be achieved. The aim of this PhD project is to quantify the impact of current diets on water use in India, and through an understanding of how food is produced, traded and consumed in India, explore what changes to food consumption could improve water sustainability.

Reference

Francesca Harris, Cami Moss, Edward J M Joy, Ruth Quinn, Pauline F D Scheelbeek, Alan D Dangour, Rosemary Green, The Water Footprint of Diets: A Global Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Advances in Nutrition, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmz091

For more information please contact Francesca Harris at:
francesca.harris1@lshtm.ac.uk

  • RVC

Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Title: Evaluating Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance in the UK from a One Health perspective.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasing health concern with major economic implications. International organisations such as WHO, OIE and FAO have called for collaboration across sectors and adoption of a “One Health” approach to tackle this problem.

Bacteria carrying resistance genes can be transmitted between humans, animals and the environment. Therefore, an integrated surveillance programme for AMR needs to take into consideration these various routes of AMR transmission. Several integrated surveillance strategies exist globally but their effectiveness and economic efficiency remain to be evaluated.

The aim of this project is to assess the value of integrated AMR surveillance systems in the UK. This will allow assessing whether integrated surveillance systems for AMR generate an added value and identify areas where improvements can be made and efficiency increased. The finding will be used to inform planning of effective and efficient future surveillance programs for AMR.

For more information please contact Houda Bennani at:
hbennani@rvc.ac.uk

  • LSHTM

Agriculture for Nutrition and Health Research Programme

Title: Rice and malaria in Cote d’Ivoire: Seeking vector control in rice cultivation techniques

Kallista’s PhD explores the aspects of rice cultivation and their effect on malaria productivity. It aims to identify potential malaria vector control through improved or novel rice cultivation techniques. Based in AfricaRice’s research station in Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire, she is conducting field trials with agronomists to assess the effect of a variety of rice-farming practices, such as crop establishment, water management regimes, weed management and fertiliser use, on the abundance of the efficient African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae.

One part of the study will focus on an irrigation technology: alternate wetting and drying, where paddies are passively drained to save water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Studies will explore if this method can be adapted for vector control.

Secondly, the project will develop a ricefield-specific larval sampling tool suitable for rice agronomists, in order to continue mosquito surveillance in rice fields. Methods involved in this will also be used to estimate vector productivity, to find out how many millions of malaria vectors are produced by an irrigation scheme during a rice-growing season.

Another element of the project will be a re-assessment of existing literature linking rice cultivation, malaria and its vectors in Africa. Finally studies will be made with local social scientists to determine the views and perspectives of rice communities on mosquitoes and their potential riceland control.

For more information please contact Kallista Chan at:
kallista.chan@lshtm.ac.uk

  • RVC

Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Title: Investigating human, animal and environmental health impacts of a selected animal source food system in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

An imminent global challenge is to enable a growing and increasingly urbanised population equitable access to healthy foods, produced sustainably within our planetary boundaries. This PhD is part of the Wellcome Trust funded programme, “Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS)” that aims, through interdisciplinary and cross-institutional research, to provide novel evidence to develop policies that deliver nutritious and healthy foods in a sustainable and equitable manner.

The study will develop a conceptual system dynamics (SD) model of the livestock derived food (LDF) system in South Africa, to capture the complexity and to identify the system’s key nexus points and a tracer product on which to focus. This will be done using a stakeholder workshop and literature review. A parameterised SD model, focusing on the tracer product (subsequently identified as broiler chicken meat) will be developed and validated, using participatory model building tools. The model will be used to simulate policy based scenarios, providing evidence for decision makers, to guide food system policies that provide healthy and nutritious food, in an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable manner.

For more information please contact Kevin Queenan at:
kqueenan3@rvc.ac.uk

  • RVC

Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Title: Can better governance reduce antimicrobial usage? An assessment of Vietnamese aquaculture systems

This project assesses the impact on antimicrobial use (AMU) of current public and private policies and initiatives such as, private sector requirements, regulations and current surveillance systems; and economic and social factors that influence stakeholders’ behaviours in relation to AMU. Further, it aims to produce a systems dynamic model to assist the development of effective antimicrobial resistance (AMR) interventions in aquaculture.

It is part of the AMFORA project, a collaboration between the Royal Veterinary College, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), WorldFish and Stirling University and part of the strategic investments of Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) into the global AMR challenge, through the CGIAR AMR Hub; LSHTM also forms part of this initiative.

Using quantitative and qualitative methods to gather field-derived data, the project assesses socioeconomic and institutional factors influencing decision-making among producers, providers of health services, policy makers, and other actors in the system, leading to AMU in aquaculture. The aims of the project are: first, to characterise aquaculture systems, AMR and related policies; second, to conduct socio-economic analyses to understand factors driving AMU such as those linked to the host, producers, supporting services, markets, national governance and international policies; and third, to develop a systems dynamic model to simulate intervention scenarios to reduce AMU.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector worldwide, driven by increasing demand for affordable protein and trade. The expansion of commercial aquaculture through intensification has involved an increasing use of antimicrobials (AMs) and other veterinary products to prevent and treat disease outbreaks, maximise production and compensate for sub-optimal management. This increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) developing in the systems. Aquaculture systems are inherently complex compared to other livestock systems, with diverse ecological characteristics and environmental linkages. Regulation for responsible use of AMs is often inefficient and effective surveillance and monitoring systems of AM use (AMU) are lacking. Consequently, there are large data and knowledge gaps in relation to usage and its drivers.

The study will be conducted in Vietnam the fourth major aquaculture producer in Asia whose export activity is forecasted to grow by almost 40% by 2025. The findings of the study are envisaged to inform AMR policies and interventions for potential implementation by A4NH. The systems dynamic model will also be useful to assess decision-making processes in relation to AMU in other low and middle-income countries.

For more information please contact Maria Garza at:
mgarza3@rvc.ac.uk

  • City

Centre for Food Policy

Title: Urban Food Governance and Equity: A Case Study of Farmers' Markets in London

Cities are becoming places of transition aiming to tackle problems associated with the current food system. In Europe and the UK, this is reflected in the development of urban food strategies aiming to build more sustainable, healthy and equitable food systems.

As part of these strategies, addressing inequalities in access to healthy food is often identified as a fundamental issue, while at the same time they aim to support local food systems, including farmers’ markets, as part of a more sustainable food system. Farmers’ markets can sustain livelihoods for small farmers and can increase access to fresh food in urban communities, as well as, provide multiple other benefits. However, their potential to fulfil the goals of urban food strategies has been challenged. Evidence from the US has shown that farmers’ markets tend to serve more affluent communities and can be exclusionary places on multiple levels.

An evidence gap exists in the UK as to whether farmers’ markets are contributing to the wider goals of urban food strategies. This project therefore explores the governance of farmers’ markets in London, how equality in access is considered within this, and how this is linked to urban food policy level.

For more information please contact Natalie Neumann at:
natalie.neumann@city.ac.uk

  • RVC

Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group

Title: Understanding drivers, incentives and economic impact of FMD control in Kenya

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is considered one of the most economically relevant transboundary animal diseases because of its high transmissibility, impact on production and trade restrictions at local, national and international levels. Control is likely to be linked to an improvement in livelihoods particularly in low and middle-income countries reliant on livestock where FMD is often regularly encountered. However, the economic impact and control incentives for FMD are poorly understood and likely to vary across livestock systems in these settings.

FMD vaccines are commonly used for disease control but the success of campaigns depends largely on farmers’ willingness to participate and pay for the vaccine. Understanding farmers’ likely actions and perceived barriers to vaccination and disease reporting is essential to inform disease control policies. Conflicting priorities between government and farmers are likely to hamper efforts in disease control.

Quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to understand motivations and barriers for accepting disease control policies, including vaccination. Following an assessment of the vaccination capacity, economic analysis will determine the economic efficiency of different vaccination scenarios. The project is based in Kenya where FMD outbreaks are regularly reported and vaccination is part of disease control policy. It will be a collaboration between the RVC and The Pirbright Institute, who are co-funders of the project. It is envisaged that the results will inform recommendations on control policy in Kenya. The framework developed could be used to evaluate the disease impact in other low and middle-income countries where FMD is still endemic.

For more information please contact Polly Compston at:
pcompston@rvc.ac.uk