Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc, MSc, PhD

Dr Kendra Byrd is a member of the Foods and Markets group within the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich and is a Senior Research Fellow in Food Systems and Nutrition. Previously, Dr Byrd was a nutrition scientist at WorldFish (under the CGIAR), researching nutrition-sensitive fisheries and aquaculture programs. Her research from this role has highlighted the role that small-scale capture fisheries play in infant and child nutrition, and her work has been published in high impact journals such as Global Food Security, Nature Food, and Advances in Nutrition. She is currently partnering with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on a global project documenting the benefits of small-scale fisheries to food and nutrition security.

Prior to joining WorldFish, Dr Byrd was a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, Davis, where she worked on a research project investigating the impact of integrating nutrition and child development interventions on child development and dietary outcomes among children in rural Bangladesh. This project was in partnership with scientists from the International Institute for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University.

Dr Byrd received her PhD in Nutritional Biology from the University of California, Davis in 2016, where she worked on two large randomized controlled trials investigating the impact of a lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) on child nutrient status and growth in Kenya and Bangladesh. Findings from her PhD have added to the evidence that LNS is safe and effective for addressing the burdens of malnutrition, though some children with hemoglobin disorders may not respond as strongly to the iron in the LNS. 

Dr Byrd has also taught several courses on global nutrition at the University of California, Davis and has mentored undergraduate and graduate students who have gone on to their own careers in research, government positions, or industry.

Her research experiences and work with various communities on improving diets has led her to research food systems approaches to addressing the burdens of malnutrition, and she enjoys working with interdisciplinary teams to make food systems healthier, more equitable, and climate-smart.

Prior to starting her career in research, Dr Byrd served in the Peace Corps as Health Advisor in Uganda from 2007-2009.

  • Nutrition-sensitive fisheries and aquaculture
  • Development of nutrient dense foods from capture fisheries (dried small fish powder, oysters, mussels, etc)
  • Safe fisheries value chains/value chains for women
  • Improved formulation of complementary foods using a more food systems approach
  • Climate change and diets; the burden of climate change on caretakers in low- and middle-income countries
  • Maternal and child nutrition; nutrition during pregnancy and lactation

Dr Byrd has worked on several large research trials throughout her career. Two ongoing projects of note are listed below:

Illuminating Hidden Harvests (FAO/Duke University/WorldFish). 2019-2022

  • Role: Technical Advisor
  • This project focused on highlighting the benefits of the small-scale fishing sector globally. Dr Byrd provided technical support to the project regarding nutrition and food security
  • Findings that have come out of the project so far that Dr Byrd has been a co-author on include the findings that inland fisheries are important to young children’s diets in Malawi and Zambia (O’Meara et al, 2021), that families living near fisheries in sub-Saharan Africa are more food secure and experience less poverty (Simmance et al, 2022) and that small pelagic fish are among the most affordable fish (Robinson et al, 2022).

The effects of fishing technology and nutrition SBCC on fish consumption in Timor-Leste: A randomized controlled trial (Royal Norwegian Embassy). 2019-2022

  • Role: Co-I
  • Amount: 1m USD
  • This project is using a robust randomized design to look at the impact of placing fish aggregating devices (FADs) combined with social and behavior change programming on household fish intakes
  • A study protocol has been published (Tilley et al, 2022) with several more publications planned describing the impact of the intervention

Completed projects

USAID FIL-19-000001
Pincus (PI), Role: Technical Advisor
Nourishing Nations: Improving the Quality and Safety of Processed Fish Products in Nigeria
Amount: 800,000 USD

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phillips (PI), Role: Co-Investigator
The IDEA project: Increasing income, Diversifying diets, and Empowering women through Aquaculture                                            

Amount: 1,500,000 USD

Thrasher Research Foundation
Stewart (PI), role: Co-Investigator
The effect of water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and nutrition interventions during the first two years of life on anemia and micronutrient status
Amount: 300,000 USD

NIH Fogarty International Center through the University of California Global Health Institute
Byrd (PI)
Investigating the associations between iron biomarker, hepcidin, and hemoglobinopathies among children in rural, western Kenya
Amount: 63,000 USD

2022 Travel award, International Congress of Nutrition, Tokyo, Japan, $2000
2017 Emerging leader poster competition, Experimental Biology, 2017. Finalist.

2016 Carpenter Travel Award, $3,000
2015 UC Davis Dissertation Award, $10,000

2015 Jastro Shields Scholarship, $3,000
2013 Jastro Shields Scholarship, $3,000

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