Webinar: Power and priorities: equitable partnerships in Agriculture, Nutrition and Health research

Date and Time: 

Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 13:00 to 14:30


Virtual - time indicated in BST (London)



In global health and development, research is now more than ever about partnership across countries and disciplines. Research organisations and funders are increasingly prioritising equity and inclusiveness when developing programmes, but what does this look like in practice? How can equitable partnerships be constructed, implemented and evaluated? 

This webinar will dive into the challenges of equity in research partnerships tackling global agriculture, food systems and nutrition research.  We will present a moderated discussion from key experts who are challenging the status quo of what equity and inclusion means, and open the conversation to participants following.

This webinar will be hosted by the Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).  


  •  Thalia Sparling, Postdoctoral Fellow with the IMMANA Programme 


  • Bhavani RV, Director, Agriculture Nutrition Health Programme, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation   

  • Nicola Lowe, GCRF Food Systems Challenge Lead, UKRI   

  • Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, Executive Director, Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy   


1:00pm – 2:30pm London
2:00pm – 3:30pm Geneva/Rome
3:00pm – 4:30pm Addis Ababa
12:00pm – 1:30pm Accra
8:00am – 9:30am New York/Washington, D.C.
5:30pm – 6:30pm New Delhi

Twitter handles: 


The webinar will last 90 minutes, including talks from each speaker and an interactive audience Q&A session.




Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan

Executive Director, Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy at Oklahoma State University 

She is an Indigenous (Choctaw) community-based participatory researcher, trained in intervention science, with the goal of research for action and social change. She received her doctorate in public health from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disease prevention at Stanford University, where she also completed a degree in documentary filmmaking. She has been the Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigator on 10 National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded trials. She led the THRIVE study, the first randomized trial of healthy makeovers in convenience stores owned by the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations of Oklahoma, and the FRESH study, a farm-to-school intervention to reduce obesity among Indigenous families. She is also the PI of the Native hypertension study to reduce hypertension among Indigenous adults.

Valarie directs the Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences where She is a Professor in the Department of Rural Health. In all of her work she has fostered long-term mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities that are guided by a participatory action research orientation and build the capacity of Indigenous communities to improve health. 

Thalia Sparling

Postdoctoral Fellow with the IMMANA Programme 

She uses implementation data from a complex nutrition program to analyze pathway indicators from the theory of change and explores methods to improve delivery and uptake, including course correction and quantitative process evaluation. She is now working on a synthesis project for the IMMANA programme to summarize tools, metrics and methods that have been developed and applied to study agriculture-nutrition linkages in the last 10 years.

Thalia holds a PhD from the University of Heidelberg’s Institute of Public Health. Her dissertation examined the association of food access, diet and nutrition with depression in women of reproductive age, particularly in Bangladesh. Prior to this, she worked in South Sudan as a Technical Advisor to the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program with the Carter Center. Thalia holds a MPH from Columbia University, and a BA from Smith College. 

Nicola Lowe

GCRF Food Systems Challenge Lead, UKRI   

Nicola Lowe is Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Co-Director of the International Institute of Nutritional Science and Food Safety Studies at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

After graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Ph.D in trace mineral metabolism, Nicola spent four years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley where she conducted research examining the homeostatic response to dietary zinc depletion, returning to the University of Liverpool to continue this work until she joined UCLan in 2000. Her primary research interest is trace mineral metabolism, with a particular focus on zinc. From 2013 to 2017, she was Chair of Zinc-Net, a network of international scientists brought together through funding from the European Commission (COST Action), to address issues relating to the role of zinc in human health. She is currently conducting research in Pakistan to investigate novel biomarkers of zinc status, and the potential for wheat biofortification to alleviate zinc deficiency.

Nicola is also the research director and a trustee for the Abaseen Foundation. This Lancashire based charity is working alongside community members in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in north west Pakistan, to improve education and health care provision. In 2010, Nicola and her research team won The Times Higher Education’s International Collaboration of the Year award for their work to improve the nutrition and health status of communities in Peshawar, Pakistan and Blackburn, UK.

Bhavani RV

Director, Agriculture Nutrition Health Programme, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation   

A doctorate in Economics, Bhavani works on food, nutrition and livelihood security issues and engages in policy research, action research with rural communities, and policy advocacy. Her work as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chairman, National Commission on Farmers, Government of India between 2004 and 2006, gave her an opportunity to understand rural and agrarian issues from close quarters. From 2012 to 2018, she was project manager of a multi-country, multi-institutional research programme consortium - Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) - that was led by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). She currently leads the Foundation’s programme to mainstream the nutrition dimension in agriculture at different levels – practitioners, researchers and policy makers at sub-national, national, regional and global levels. Before joining MSSRF in 2000, Bhavani was an officer in State Bank of India for a decade.