Of Note
Laura Fulbright
Professor Tilghman’s research will lead to new learning opportunities for PSU students.
Professor Laura Tilghman, Fulbright Scholar, Researches Nutrition Transition in Africa
Laura, two children, and a man sitting on a tree stump outdoors
Professor Laura Tilghman, a cultural anthropologist with interests in human migration, economic livelihoods, health, and food security, is completing five months of research for the Fulbright award to Africa Regional Research Program. As part of her first PSU sabbatical, she is conducting ethnographic research in Madagascar on the nutrition transition that many developing countries are experiencing. 
“Broadly speaking, public health scholars have theorized that as countries develop and their populations become more urbanized, there will be accompanying changes in diets to include more highly processed foods,” says Tilghman. “My main goal for this research trip to Madagascar has been to figure out if the country is indeed undergoing a nutrition transition, and if so, what that actually looks like on the ground.”
The research project explores the nutrition transition in northeastern Madagascar, comparing the behaviors and beliefs of rural, peri-urban (an area immediately surrounding a city or town), and urban people. Using an ethnographic approach that combines both qualitative and quantitative methods, Tilghman has analyzed the individual- and community-level characteristics that influence food preferences and dietary habits. She has also examined local values and cultural models regarding food and non-communicable diseases like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  
This research will not only contribute to ongoing discussions in the literature, but also provide useful information for public health policy as Madagascar responds to this emerging health threat and will lead to new learning opportunities for PSU students upon Professor Tilghman’s return.