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Practice Makes McKune Perfect

Dr. Sarah McKune credits the start of her academic career to a chance meeting with another familiar face in the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems: Dr. Sandra Russo. About one decade ago, she met Dr. Russo while volunteering to build houses for the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity. She was unsure of next steps, following years of experience in international development, and Dr. Russo convinced her to pursue a doctoral degree. Later, Dr. Russo also included her in the initial stages of the Innovation Lab.

Dr. McKune has practiced both development and research, and she has an uncanny ability to synthesize practical and academic work. She has applied this skill repeatedly in Nepal, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, and she is proving to be a leading thinker and doer of global health practice.

Photo by Sarah McKune of a mother and children in Burkina Faso.

“I do global health. I don’t just study it. That’s how I see myself,” said the assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Environmental and Global Health and the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida.

Nutrition. Gender. One Health. Climate Change. McKune’s myriad of interests allow her to conduct trans-disciplinary research, and she loves the diversity of the Innovation Lab’s projects. “The Lab has been defining for me as a practitioner. To do such work at UF is a dream,” she said.

McKune practices her craft of doing global health across several projects within the Innovation Lab, and she advises the Lab in the fields of human health and nutrition. McKune is fully invested in the Lab’s long-term goal of reducing malnutrition, and she advocates for greater attention to the health of infants and mothers across the Lab’s portfolio of research.

Many Roles in One

McKune practices what she preaches. Her many roles within the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab include:

  • Lead, Human Health and Nutrition cross-cutting theme: Assists researchers on funded projects to integrate human nutrition outcomes into their research for development projects
  • Principal Investigator (PI), Un Enfant, Un oeuf, Par Jour (One child, one egg a day): Leads a project to improve nutrition of young children in Burkina Faso by increasing egg consumption
  • Co-PI, Campylobacter Genomics and Environmental Enteric Dysfunction (CAGED): Conducts research in Ethiopia to examine how the benefits of improved poultry production may be bolstered by protecting children from pathogens in chicken droppings, which reduce nutrient absorption.

    Dr. McKune, right, works with Dr. Arie Havelaar on the CAGED project in Ethiopia.

  • Sociocultural/Gender Specialist, Peste des Petits Ruminants Vaccine Associate Award

Dr. McKune also serves as the committee chair for these University of Florida students involved with the Lab:

  • Emi Moore, PhD in Public Health
  • Katie McNamara, PhD in Public Health
  • Nick Diaz, Master of Sustainable Development Practice
  • Daniel Acosta, Master of Sustainable Development Practice

Her publications and presentations within the Innovation Lab are also extensive and include the following:

Does it sound like McKune is busy? She is. And she’s a busy person who gets things done.


8 Comments on “Practice Makes McKune Perfect

  1. Busy? You can’t even imagine. As her lucky husband and the father of our 3 kids, I’m uniquely qualified to confirm this lady is extraordinary and amazing in every way.

  2. Um, wow, she doesn’t have to stutter when someone asks her if she is making a positive difference on the world. I am proud to know her.

  3. Amazing. Such an intelligent and compassionate woman doing incredible work. Her projects are changing lives all around the world in the present and for the future.

  4. Sarah rocks! I’m only too honored to work with her on a daily basis 🙂

  5. Working with Sarah is one of the great pleasures of being associated with LSIL; she is fully dedicated to whatever she does and never fails to deliver. She also is a great traveling companion!

  6. A great personality, a fast-paced thinker with a strong passion for whatever she does.

  7. Dr. Sara Mackune is very intelligent person who I always work with her in practical research activities in Ethiopia. May God bless Dr. Sara Mackune.