Research Triangle Institute International
Tell us about your background and research interests.
I began my career in international development for program management after completing my bachelor’s in international studies from Spelman College and my master’s in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. My work predominantly focused on education and economic development projects. Program management afforded me the opportunity to learn the interworking of the implementation of donor-funded projects, specifically USAID from the proposal stage to close out. With my passion for research, however, I felt more inclined toward the field of Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning, and Adaptation (MERLA), which led to my transition from program management. Over the years, I have advised dozens of donor-funded projects, youth workforce development, education, and health across multiple countries and contexts. These projects allowed me the ability to conduct various types of research from gender assessments to rapid risk education analysis to studies on youth resilience in conflict and crisis settings. My research specialty was experimental and quasi-experimental studies, specifically those that aimed at understanding the economic outcomes of youth workforce development projects.
How does your professional background inform your approach at the Fish Innovation Lab?
MERLA offers the benefits of adaptation, which has informed my approach with the Fish Innovation Lab. Each activity within the innovation lab has a unique research perspective in fisheries and aquaculture, which requires adaptation in advising their MERLA approach. In my work, I have not only adapted to the context of implementation but also the difference in the MERLA needs of these activities. Having a background in both project management and MERLA provides me with the flexibility to respond to the individual needs of the lab's activities.
In your view, what are the most pressing challenges related to food and nutrition security worldwide, and what are some ways we can overcome these challenges?
Resilience to the shocks and stresses imposed by the increasing challenge of climate change is the most pressing challenge to food and nutrition security. Changes in precipitation patterns, droughts, and increasing temperatures are among the extreme events that threaten the stability of food systems around the world. With fisheries and aquaculture food systems, it is affecting everything from production, transportation, processing, retail, and consumption. The results are higher challenges to food accessibility for those most vulnerable around the world, specifically women and children who risk facing a dearth of nutritional inputs affecting their resilience. There are no one-size solutions to climate change; however, there are several practices that can be adapted to ensure a more sustainable food system. Chief among these is curbing carbon emissions around the world.
What do you wish other people knew about fish and/or food security?
I wish people knew the impact of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture. Often when we speak of the impact of climate change on food systems, the focus is usually on agriculture. While fishing has a lower carbon footprint than other protein productions, with warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification, fish ecosystems are at high risk around the world. From impacting their migratory patterns across international boundaries to fish health and mortality rates, climate change has the potential to have dire consequences for communities dependent on fisheries and aquaculture. More work is needed to protect fisheries and aquaculture ecosystems, including sustainable farming practices and environmental protection of fisheries and aquaculture ecosystems.
What other careers might you have pursued if you hadn't pursued the career you are currently in?
After my graduate studies, I considered a career as a data analyst, specifically as a geographical information systems (GIS) analyst in the private sector instead of international development. I spent most of my graduate studies conducting research with GIS, specifically related to disaster risk management, and it was a field that was of great interest to me. Ultimately, however, I had a higher passion for international development and decided to pursue a career in the field instead.
What are your hobbies or activities outside of work?
Several hobbies occupy my time. I am an avid reader; I usually read through three-four books a month. I have quite the extensive plant collection that I care for. My prize flora is my Fiddle Leaf Fig, aptly named Ella Fig Gerald, and my Chinese Evergreen, Evie Evangeline. I do yoga, and I love to cook and experiment with different palettes of spices. During the pandemic, I started painting with mostly acrylics and watercolors, and it is fastly becoming one of my favorite hobbies.
What is on your bucket list? (What do you hope to do, accomplish, see, experience, etc. in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?)
I am an avid traveler! As such, most of my bucket list is travel related with the goal of seeing every country in the world. I am currently at 63 and will reach 65 by the end of the summer in 2022. Also on my bucket list includes skydiving in Dubai, going to the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and walking the Great Wall of China to finish my bucket list of seeing the 7 wonders of the modern world. Additionally, I would love to see Hobbiton in New Zealand, camp under the northern lights, and swim in the Devil’s Pool of Victoria Falls in Zambia.
If you would like to, tell us about your family, where you are from, and any personal details you would like to share.
I was born and raised in Haiti before immigrating to the United States. I am the proud aunt of two nieces and one nephew and the oldest sister to three of the most resilient women I know.
August 9, 2022