Mikaela Elizondo received her MS in Statistics from Mississippi State University in 2021. Her thesis research used data collected by the Gender Impacts Lab, which was supported by the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab. Photo: Submitted.
Mikaela Elizondo (2021-present)
MS, Statistics, Mississippi State University, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Mikaela Elizondo contributed to the Gender Impacts Lab under the joint supervision of Drs. Kathleen Ragsdale, Mary Read-Wahidi, and Qian (Michelle) Zhou in 2021. Her work for the Lab was guided by Dr. Zhou, who served as the Chair of Elizondo’s thesis committee and by Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi, who served as members of Elizondo’s thesis committee. Her thesis – which was successfully defended in June 2021 – concentrated on advanced statistical analysis of data from the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab.
Andrew Chisopo is a Master’s student at the University of Zambia, where his thesis research will focus on agricultural economics in the context of post-harvest loss in small-scale fishing communities. His thesis will use data collected with support from the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab under the supervision of Pamela Marina (University of Zambia), Netsayi Mudege (WorldFish Zambia), Mary Read-Wahidi (Mississippi State University), and Kathleen Ragsdale (Mississippi State University). Photo: Submitted.
Andrew Chisopo (2020 – present)
MS candidate, Agricultural Economics
University of Zambia, Department of Agricultural Economics
Andrew Chisopo has joined the FishFirst! Zambia team as a graduate intern. Chisopo is currently pursuing a Master of Science in agricultural economics at the University of Zambia (UNZA), where he earned a Bachelor of Science in the same field of study. He is proficient in statistical analysis tools and has been involved in research projects in Zambia as a research consultant, data manager, field supervisor, data analyst, programmer, and enumerator. He worked as a research assistant and assistant data manager at the Zambia Revenue Authority, the International Growth Centre, and Palm Associates, a research and consultancy firm based in Lusaka, Zambia. At Palm Associates, Chisopo worked on the World Bank-funded project Supporting Women’s Livelihoods, where he was primarily involved in programming the tablet-based questionnaire and managing data.
He has also worked with the Ministry of Finance processing data and as a consultant and facilitator with KCM Green Limited, a research company based in Zambia, to support the company in setting up an out-grower scheme model for high-potential aquaculture zones under the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project. He later joined PRS 365, a private limited research company based in Zambia as a research analyst, where he supervised team members and was involved in programming tablet-based questionnaires, enumeration, and analyzing survey data. Chisopo has also served as an agricultural, agribusiness, and data-manager consultant at March Associates Limited, a research company based in Zambia.
As a FishFirst! Zambia graduate intern, Chisopo will contribute to questionnaire programming, data cleaning, management and analysis, and production/presentation of results at scientific conferences, technical reports, and other publications.
Florence Malama is a Master’s student at the University of Zambia, where her thesis research will focus on nutrition and fish as a high-quality protein. Her thesis will use data collected with support from the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab under the supervision of Pamela Marina (University of Zambia), Netsayi Mudege (WorldFish Zambia), Mary Read-Wahidi (Mississippi State University), and Kathleen Ragsdale (Mississippi State University). Photo: Submitted.
Florence Malama (2020 – present)
MS candidate, Human Nutrition University of Zambia, Department of Food Science and Nutrition
Florence Malama has joined the FishFirst! Zambia team and will be working in-country to implement surveys at Lake Kariba. Malama is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Human Nutrition at the University of Zambia (UNZA), where she holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition. She has been involved in food and nutrition research projects in Zambia as a researcher, field supervisor, and enumerator. During her undergraduate studies, Malama’s final-year research project focused on the effect of sprouting on selected macronutrients and physical properties of four Zambian common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) varieties. In 2020, her results were published in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Research.
Malama has participated in numerous assignments that have enriched her understanding of nutrition issues within the Zambian context, including experience in Clinical Nutrition Practice. Upon completing her undergraduate studies in 2017, she undertook work at the Kabwe Central Hospital as a nutritionist where she worked until July 2020 before returning to UNZA to pursue her master’s degree. Her main roles at the hospital included Inpatient Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (IMAM), promotion of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), encouraging good nutrition among the pregnant and lactating women, providing dietetic advice to patients, and conducting capacity building through IMAM mentorship to other health professionals and through clinical presentations. While at Kabwe Central Hospital, Malama also served as a part-time lecturer in the Kabwe College of Health Sciences and the Kabwe College of Nursing and Midwifery at Levy Mwanawasa Medical University, Kabwe Campus, where she taught nutrition courses to diploma- and certificate-level students.
Robert Kolbila (L) and Gina Rico Méndez (R) at street market in Yendi, Ghana.
Photo: K. Ragsdale, Mississippi State University.
Robert Kolbila (2019 – present)
PhD candidate, Mississippi State University, Department of Sociology
Robert Kolbila is a Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi. A native of Ghana, Kolbila has been working with Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi since 2017 to help implement surveys and focus group discussions with men and women smallholder soybean farmers in Ghana’s Northern Region. This work is part of Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi’s Gender Impacts Research (K. Ragsdale, PI), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab (P. Goldsmith, PI).
While serving as the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL) Specialist with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) of Ghana, Kolbila earned an MS in Development Studies from the University for Development Studies in Ghana. For his Masters thesis – entitled, Assessing the Effectiveness of the Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) as a Close-to-Client Strategy for Health Care Delivery in West Mamprusi District, Ghana – Kolbila conducted surveys, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews to examine the Ministry of Health’s effectiveness in improving healthcare for the rural poor, who have long been underserved in Ghana. He will be pursuing a PhD in the Department of Sociology at Mississippi State University. For his PhD research, Kolbila plans to focus on exploring how food security, gender dynamics, and other socio-cultural factors impact health among the rural poor in Ghana.
Since Robert joined the Gender Impacts Lab in 2019, he has successfully led two field-level research in West Africa(Ghana) as a student researcher where he implemented surveys and conducted qualitative studies among farmers and key actors in the soybean value chain in Ghana. Robert before joining the Gender Impacts Lab worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation specialist with international nonprofit organizations including the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Care International, and the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) during which he led and supported the design and implementation of development programs targeting women, children and the poor in rural Ghana and Africa. Robert in his free time supports development organizations and research institutions in West Africa in designing and implementing Real-Time data collection systems to support evidence-based planning, learning and research.
Malavika Jinka during fieldwork among indigenous community members in rural India. Photo: Submitted
Malavika Jinka (2019-2020)
MA. Applied Anthropology
Mississippi State University, Department of Anthropology & Middle Eastern Cultures
Malavika Jinka’s encounter with the Chenchu indigenous community in southern India led to her interest in learning the impact of the state’s conservation goals on indigenous communities, human displacement, transformation of societies, and socioeconomic development.
Her research compares the definition of “development” by internally displaced people and the government of India. As a graduate research assistant with the Gender Impacts Lab, Malavika participated in studying regional health and development issues in the Mississippi Delta and contributed to the Soybean Innovation Lab. She graduated from Mississippi State University with a Master’s in applied anthropology and is currently pursuing a PhD in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Arizona, where she is focusing on political ecology and development anthropology.
Kelly Lower (Mississippi State University) chats in 2018 with Daniel Nbedobe Kunji, SUNS II team translator and community liaison for men’s focus group discussion in villages in Saboba District in Ghana’s Northern Region.
Photo: R. Kolbila, Catholic Relief Services-Ghana.
Kelly Lower (2018 – 2019)
MA, Applied Anthropology
Mississippi State University, Department of Anthropology & Middle Eastern Cultures
Kelly Lower served as a graduate research assistant with the Gender Impacts Lab from 2018 – 2019, where she contributed to projects for the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab and Teen Health Mississippi. Kelly graduated from Mississippi State University with a Master’s in applied anthropology in 2019. After her graduation, Kelly was competitively selected to join Peace Corps to train as a community health worker in rural Senegal. An independent service agency and volunteer program run by the U.S. Government, Peace Corps provided international social and economic development assistance and opportunities for “motivated changemakers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation” (Peace Corps, 2021).
As Kelly’s Peace Corps service has been delayed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, she was selected to join AmeriCorps, where she served rural communities in Montana during 2020-2021. For her AmeriCorps service, Kelly worked with the Richland County Health Department on their Covid-19 response, including contact tracing and public health outreach. After Peace Corps service, Kelly plans to pursue a PhD focused on global health and development.
Mississippi State University
Social Science Research Center
1 Research Blvd #102A
Starkville, MS 39759