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.



Avatar photo
Posted: September 19, 2018

Category: Agriculture, Health & Nutrition, Livestock, , Work & Life
Tags: Global, Human Health, International Development, Leader, Nutrition, Practice



December 10, 2021

great post!

Kedir Abdi
September 16, 2021

Change... change... change... We are working for change! Building the basis for One Health and Food Safety in my country Ethiopia. Be Positive Always! Yes we Can! Kedir Abdi

Wellington @EkayaEkaya
May 6, 2021

Dear Yitagesu, We are excited to have you going through the CapDev Grand Challenge process. Feel free to get in touch. Your invitation for the ‘Integration gender into livestock research training course’ is on the way!!!

Erdachew Yitagesu Tesema
May 6, 2021

Thank you Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, based at the University of Florida & ILRI. I am one of the feed the future innovation lab project funded young livestock researcher. I am glad to be screened for the long term CapDev training.

Belisa usmael
February 25, 2021

Great team (lab and field) and great work! Go ahead again and again!

February 25, 2021

good!,go ahead,

Ibsa Aliyi Usmane
February 24, 2021

Thank you very much proffesor Arie, we work for change not for lunch(field team slogan).

Ross Colgate, PhD MPH
February 24, 2021

Congratulations CAGED team, both on your important work during the pandemic and getting CAGED off the ground! We're following your progress closely and look forward to learning from the excellent science you're producing!

Ibsa Aliyi
September 20, 2019

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.

February 26, 2019

this is nice story

Adiba Rogers
October 18, 2018

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

Sanjoy Chandra Bhattacherjee
October 18, 2018

Hello Alice, I am pleased to hear your experiences. I am also working with Mastitis in our area of work and now I am involved in a dairy project here in Bangladesh. I am going to participate in an international mastitis forum this month. I want to hear more from you about your training of dairy farmers on safe and clean milk production. How can I do that? I will be very pleased to hear from you.

Arie Havelaar
October 17, 2018

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!

Kathy Colverson
October 17, 2018

Sarah rocks! I'm only too honored to work with her on a daily basis :)

Catherine Karow
September 26, 2018

Amazing woman!

Kelly Quintana
September 26, 2018

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.

Beau Beery
September 20, 2018

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.

J. Parrish
September 20, 2018

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.

September 19, 2018

Thank you Mrs. Alice for your contribution on the improvement of milk quality and safety in the value chain in our community. Keep it up

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