GFS Researcher in Focus – October 2015: Dr Sharmina Ahmed

Sharmina_RIFEach month we will be asking one of our researchers to provide an insight into their research.

This month Dr Sharmina Ahmed is our Researcher in Focus.

What is the aim of your research?

The aim of my research is to effectively translate nutrition research into policy and practical change. My past research was about looking at the production side of food. My research focus at present is all about the consumer side. However, they are very much interrelated as a good diet and adequate food supply are central for promoting health and wellbeing. A shortage- or lack of variety of food can cause malnutrition and deficiency diseases. On the other hand, excess intake (also a form of malnutrition) contributes to many diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, degenerative eye diseases, obesity etc. My research attempts to understand the availability and cost of healthy, nutritious food. This involves try to bring factors such as individuals’ behaviour, location, race, socioeconomics and access to healthy vs. unhealthy food in translating nutrition overall. In an era of financial scrutiny and growing demands for limited agriculture resources both in developed and developing countries, this kind of analysis focused on improved diet quality and diet diversity would help to develop new strategies for reduction of expenses and facilitate optimum provision of health and welfare services.

What type of research do you do (e.g., field work)?

Given my diverse research topics, I have used both primary and secondary data in my work. While working as Government Official in Bangladesh, I was involved in collecting primary data on health and family welfare issues from rural Bangladesh. I’ve used secondary data from the IRRI, FAO, the UN, and the World Bank for my PhD degree. Is my role as post-doctoral fellow in Women’s and Children’s health Research Institute (WCHRI), I used data from several randomized clinical trials run by WCHRI and the Robinsons’ Research Institute.

What was your PhD topic?

The title of my PhD was “Agricultural land tenancy in rural Bangladesh: Productivity impact and process of contract choice” under the supervision of Prof Christopher Findlay. During my PhD, I focused on the problems of sample-selection bias and endogeneity in the agricultural tenancy contract choice using economic models and econometric analysis. It’s completely different from my current research topics but both of them are about development economics and welfare of the society.

What is your favourite part of being a researcher?

My favourite part of being a researcher is to collaborate with different researchers in different fields, learning various aspects of the same research question from perspectives of different disciplines and knowing that through an effective collaboration results from our researches have the ability to influence policy discussions. Exchanging views and ideas through conferences presentations and attendance is another favourite part of being a researcher where it not only allows me to develop myself but also gives me a chance to broaden my networks. I also love using the knowledge that I gain from my research experience to help my students develop their research and career.

What is the hardest part of being a researcher?

In my opinion, interpreting results for the general community, journal rejection and revises and resubmit process are the hardest part of being a researcher.

What advice would you give to other aspiring researchers?

Never give up, know your ability, and collaboration works. Collaboration with other researchers in similar and different fields can improve our research motivation and capacities. I have been privileged to be part of Global Food Studies which consists of talented researchers with diverse capabilities who have a high commitment to research and are open to new ideas.


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