Role: Co-PI and Project Coordinator
Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, Montana State University
Dr. Ahmed’s research interests are at the interface of food, health, and the environment. She leads The Food and Health Lab at MSU to carry out basic and behavioral studies on the socio-ecological, biochemical, genetic, and functional basis of food systems. Her research program focuses on examining the effects of global environmental change, policy, and management on food system quality and resulting linkages to food procurement strategies, livelihoods, and community well-being.
Dr. Ahmed’s research follows a coupled natural and human systems framework integrating socio-ecological and chemical ecology theory and incorporates a range of interdisciplinary methods including: biodiversity inventories; social science surveys on management, decision-making and livelihoods; ethno-epidemiological and nutrition surveys; phytochemical and bioactivity profiling and crop genetic analysis. Her main study system is tea in China. In addition, she is working on examining climate effects on sugar maple in NE North America, food environments in Native American communities in Montana, and indigenous food systems and dietary quality in Asia. The ultimate translational goal of this work is to inform evidence-based planning towards biodiversity conservation, food security, and human health.
This project on climate effects on tea quality builds on Selena’s doctoral research on the impacts of management on biodiveristy and phytochemical quality of smallholder tea systems in Yunnan Province of China. For the current tea and climate project, she is leading international field sampling, farmer surveys on ecological knowledge and management practices, sensory surveys with tea traders and connoisseurs, and phytochemical quantification of the primary antioxidant compounds that are responsible for the health benefits of tea. Read Selena’s narrative on her journey studying Tea and the Taste of Climate Change.