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.
“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.
- 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:
- Understanding Empowerment in Order to Improve Nutritional Outcomes: Initial Findings from Nepal Case Studies
- Three webinars on integrating gender and nutrition into livestock research
- Presentation at a Stunting Symposium:
Does it sound like McKune is busy? She is. And she’s a busy person who gets things done.