By Krystal Rampalli, MPH, DFC Research Assistant

The University of South Carolina (UofSC) Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) team had a third busy summer preparing for and participating in the fifth annual Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy Week 2020 Annual Meeting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s conference was exclusively held online from 23-25 June and 30 June-2 July. DFC grantees, staff, partner organizations, and members of the technical advisory group made strong showings through poster presentations, research talks, and through facilitation or participation in the ANH 2020 Learning Labs.

DFC Learning Lab at ANH 2020

As in prior years, the USC DFC team also facilitated a Learning Lab during ANH Academy Week. The difference this year was the large audience of over 200 participants. This interactive workshop allowed for a rich discussion on how to conduct research on drivers of food choice in low- and middle- income countries amidst changing food environments. Dr. Shilpa Constantinides (DFC Research Associate, USC) began with an introductory presentation on the basics of food choice decision-making and research in the contexts of changing food environments in LMICs. Following this introduction, DFC subgrantees Dr. Ramya Ambikapathi of Purdue University and Dr. Amos Laar (University of Ghana) / Dr. Michelle Holdsworth (University of Sheffield) presented case studies of their DFC research. Dr. Chris Turner of the University of Greenwich then discussed evidence emerging from the DFC projects about changing food environments in LMICs and how that information might be used to improve understanding of the relationship between food environments and food choice to inform policies and programs in LMICs. A panel discussion followed during which the presenters, as well as Dr. Dan Sellen (DFC Technical Advisor, University of Toronto) and Dr. Ed Frongillo (DFC Co-PI, USC) answered questions from participants. The entire Learning Lab was facilitated by Dr. Christine Blake, USC Associate Professor and PI of the DFC Program.

The DFC Program’s virtual Learning Lab, held on 24 June 2020.

Additionally, USC PhD Candidate and DFC Research Assistant Mr. Shiva Bhandari co-hosted an ANH virtual hangout for PhD students on one of the days of the conference.

One of the ANH 2020 virtual hangouts, specifically for PhD students and co-hosted by USC Arnold School doctoral student/DFC Research Assistant Shiva Bhandari (upper right).

DFC Presentations & Posters at ANH 2020

Several DFC grantees and team members gave research talks at ANH 2020. The following is a listing:

DFC Grantees Dr. Ramya Ambikapathi (upper left), Chrissie Thakwalakwa (upper right), Akua Tandoh (lower left) and Dr. Helen Walls (lower right) present their findings at the virtual ANH 2020.


Additionally, DFC grantees and team members gave virtual one-minute mini-poster presentations.

DFC grantees’ poster presentations:

DFC teams’ one-minute poster presentations: Arindam Samaddar (IRRI) and Dr. Solveig Cunningham (Emory University)

Ms. Morgan Boncyk, a student at Purdue University and member of Dr. Ramya Ambikapathi’s DFC research team, won first place prize for her poster entitled ‘What people like “depends on what is available”: Food Choices of PLHIV in Peri-Urban Tanzania.’ Congratulations, Morgan!

DFC researcher Ms. Morgan Boncyk’s award-winning poster at ANH 2020.

All DFC team and grantee work that was disseminated at ANH2020 can be found on the official IMMANA/ANH Academy’s YouTube channel.

Over the rest of this year, DFC grantees will continue to disseminate their findings on various platforms. The DFC team at USC is also developing dissemination products that will highlight and synthesize cross-cutting themes from across DFC projects.