Since a very young age, I wanted to study something close to nature with a technological slant – this search led to my journey!
Born in Chennai and inspired by the works of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan (Father of Green Revolution in India) – convinced my family – to attend Tamil Nadu Agricultural University at Coimbatore (A State Land-Grant Institution). I had the opportunity to be part of the “Consolidation of Food Security in South India” a collaborative project between McGill University (Canada), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (India) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) during my undergraduate studies. This international collaborative project, led to my first experiential learning (2004) to witness the impact of food processing technologies to improve the livelihood of rural communities. Little did I know, that I would be trained by world renowned food process engineers (from McGill University, Canada & Cornell University, USA). Thus started an exciting journey of this female food engineer.
Received the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship to conduct my Master’s research at McGill University and continued PhD in Bioresource Engineering at McGill. I received various fellowships and awards including the Best PhD Thesis Award from The Canadian Society for Bioengineers (CSBE).
During my postdoctoral training, managed three salt fortification projects (funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Saving Lives @Birth (SL@B), Grand Challenges Canada, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) at University of Toronto. Double Fortified Salt (DFS) with iron and iodine is reaching 60 million people in India facing malnutrition. DFS slashed iron-deficiency anemia rates in children receiving fortified salt in their school lunches.
Joined University of Missouri (MU) in 2018 and established the Food Engineering and Sustainable Technologies (FEAST) Lab (during Fall 2018). The same year was inducted into the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Emerging Leaders Network 2018 and served as liaison to IFT’s Foundation Feeding Tomorrow (2018-2019) and currently serve on the Global Leverage Task Force for IFT Feeding Tomorrow (2019-2020).
My research interest is towards addressing the interconnected challenges of food and nutrition security which aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2- Zero Hunger). Spearheaded the efforts for University of Missouri to become an official member of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and organized the first UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) workshop at MU in Fall 2018. In Fall 2019, designed the first course ” DSP-Zero Hunger Challenge” at MU combining the UN Sustainable Development Goals in partnership with the Deaton Institute, and the Honors College. This course brings multi-disciplinary student teams to collaborate in addressing SDG 2: Zero Hunger along with SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals.
Food and nutrition security is a complex global challenge and requires partnerships and collaborators with different perspectives. My journey has been enriched by the wisdom of great mentors, colleagues, students and priceless experiential learning opportunities to collaborate on international projects in India, Africa, Canada and US.
In a journey towards a Zero Hunger World!
Awards / Honors
Meetings / Panels
Saving Lives @ Birth - Accelerator Workshop (Invited) Nairobi, Kenya - 2018
Saving Lives @ Birth - Accelerator Workshop (Invited) Duke University - 2019
Expert Panel – Global Youth Institute, World Food Prize 2019, Round Table Panel along with Dr. Howarth Bouis (Founder, Harvest Plus & World Food Prize Laureate 2016) – with high school children from different parts of the world to provide feedback to Global Youth Institute projects – discussions about technology, policy, inclusion and diversity of thoughts to solve grand global challenges- Oct 2019
Judging panel, IFT Excellence in Leadership Award – 2019, 2020
Judging panel, World Food Prize – Missouri Youth Institute – Mar 2019
Organized the first UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) workshop and World Food Day 2018 celebrations at University of Missouri, Sep-Oct, 2018
Case Advisor/ Mentor, 2018 Toronto Thinks Global Health Case Competition, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, UofT, Jan 2018. (Team I mentored, won the 2nd place competing 24 other teams from Ontario. This team represented UofT at the 2018 International Emory Global Health VIDEO Case Competition)
Moderator, Global Ideas Institute’s first ever panel on Food Security. Munk School of Global Affairs, UofT, Jan 2018
Expert panel member, UofT Science & Engineering Engagement – Food Evolution Documentary, Jan, 2018
Initiated, Mentored and Organized the First Food Security Ideathon (2017) at UofT
Student Design Competition Judge, (CAFE) Canadian Association of Food Engineers, 2017. UofT
Judging panel, Global Health Ideathon, Engineering World Health 2016. UofT
Organized the first UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Youth Leadership Training Session titled Sustainable Development by 2030: From your doorstep, to the world (2016), UofT