Bronwen Powell

Assistant Professor of Geography, African Studies, and Anthropology (courtesy)
Penn State

Bronwen Powell an assistant professor of Geography, African Studies and Anthropology (courtesy) at Penn State and a Research Associate with the Center for International Forestry Research. She has been an Expert Scientific Panelist for the UN Form on Forests (2017), a member of the IUFRO Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Food Security and Nutrition (2013-2015) and a member of the High Level Panel of Experts to UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on “Sustainable Forestry for Food Security and Nutrition” (2015-2017). She holds a PhD in Human Nutrition from McGill University, and MSc in Ethnobiology from the Department of Anthropology, University of Kent, Canterbury, England.

Broadly, her research examines the social, cultural and environmental drivers of human nutrition, diet and food security. Specifically, her research is focused on the relationship between biodiversity and human nutrition, as well as how people draw on wild and agricultural resources to improve dietary diversity, food security and nutrition. Her recent research focuses on how forests, wild foods and landscape diversity contribute to human diet and nutrition. She is interested in how the concept of healthy food environments, which has been widely explored in urban and developed country settings, can be applied in rural African settings to understand dietary choice. While availability and accessibility are widely acknowledged as important aspects of the food environment that influence dietary choice, Dr. Powell also focuses on the (often overlooked) social, cultural and political aspects of food environments. Most recently she has been examining how land use change and policy change impact the food systems of indigenous groups. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods. Drawing on qualitative, ethnographic and participatory methods, her research uses Complex Systems and Political Ecology approaches to examine socio-cultural factors that mediate peoples’ relationship with and use of their environments to meet their livelihood needs. Her research and writing is policy focused: she seeks to inform national and international policy and practice for improved nutrition, sustainable development and conservation.