What makes IMMANA Fellowships special?
Over the past two years, IMMANA Fellowships, one of three workstreams of the IMMANA programme, have sought out and funded new researchers dedicated to exploring agriculture and nutrition through innovative metrics and methods and building a rigorous evidence base. Although our Fellows hail from diverse backgrounds – institutions in Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe; disciplines ranging from psychology, nutrition, public health, economics, history, and veterinary science – one theme ties them together: building bridges to create a global network for agriculture and nutrition research.
One of the key elements of an IMMANA Fellowship is support from Home and Host Mentors. The Home Mentor, who represents the Fellow’s past employer and is expected to be his or her thesis advisor, works closely with the Host Mentor, who represents the Fellow’s future research or professional interests. These configurations have resulted in remarkable interdisciplinary journeys that could only be cultivated through our Fellowship’s unique objectives. For example, a Round 2 Fellow, Dr. Husein Mohammed, is using his Fellowship to bridge psychology and nutrition by engaging faculty from McGill University and the University of Ghana. A Round 1 Fellow, Dr. Bekele Megersa Bati, who studied milk consumption in a drought-prone region of southern Ethiopia, added to his child nutrition background by including a faculty member from Emory University working in environmental science.
The Fellowships are designed to also bridge institutional and regional boundaries. All of our Fellows work with at least one Mentor located in Africa or South Asia to create new or reinforce existing relationships across the world. To name a few, our Fellows have brought together Mentors and institutions by working across Ethiopia and South Africa, Germany and Bangladesh, India and New Zealand, and the US and Burkina Faso. Fellows are not confined to academic research and are encouraged to seek mentorship from and engage with programme managers and policymakers. One of our Round 1 Fellows, Dr. Mieghan Bruce, worked with the Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency while conducting research on food system dynamics. Another Fellow from Round 1, Dr. Matilda Laar, worked to improve the Ghana School Feeding Programme by developing, piloting, and refining a monitoring toolkit, in collaboration with local institutions and INGOs.
Finally, Fellows across Rounds work with each other through a variety of opportunities. We hold a journal club for Fellows to present on and discuss new research. Fellows are invited to write blog posts and share their experiences. Two Fellows from Round 1 jointly submitted a concept note for a recent funding call. We are also enthusiastic to have formed a Fellows ANH Academy Technical Working Group, which will draw upon the expertise of Fellows from Rounds 1 and 2 to research animal source foods for agriculture and nutrition in Africa and South Asia.
Over the next six months, the IMMANA Fellowships team will work to recruit and fund five new early career researchers for our fourth and final round. The programme has been fortunate to attract interest from outstanding scholars working across a broad range of topics and we look forward to receiving and reviewing concept notes this fall. As the recruitment period progresses, we will hold two webinars to provide prospective applicants with more information and a platform to ask questions and solicit feedback. We hope you will join us for these events and share this special opportunity with your network.
Contributed by Zachary Gersten, IMMANA Fellowships Coordinator, Tufts University (@zakgersten)
Photo: IMMANA Fellowships team and Round 2 Fellows at ANH Academy Week in Nepal