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Selena Ahmed, PhD

Selena Ahmed

Assistant Professor

Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems

345 Reid Hall
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-3370

My research, teaching, and outreach interests are at the intersection of the ecological, cultural, and health aspects of food systems. The ultimate translational goal of my research program is to strengthen linkages and innovations in the food system from production through consumption and waste towards supporting local, national, and global food security. Towards this goal, I collaboratively initiated The Food and Health Lab at Montana State University (http://www.montana.edu/food-health-lab/index.html)) with the objective to carry out and provide training on basic, behavioral, and applied research to explore environment-food-health linkages.

As the Principle Investigator of the Agroecology and Phytochemistry Group of the Food and Health Lab, I am particularly interested in identifying the socio-ecological determinants of environmental and human wellbeing in the food system. This work involves quantifying the influence of agricultural practices and food environments on ecosystem services, crop quality, food security, and diets in the context of global change and sustainability. Specifically, my research program focuses on the following three priority areas:

  • Strengthening the Resilience of Farms and Farmers to Support Food Security
  • Enhancing Access to High-Quality Food and Sustainable Diets in the Food Environment for Healthy Communities
  • Building Capacity of Future Food System Leaders

My goal is to collaborate with diverse stakeholders to apply findings from this research to develop evidence-based plans to promote biodiversity and crop quality in agricultural systems and, enhance food environments to mitigate risk of food insecurity and diet-related chronic disease towards advancing sustainable food systems.

The theories and methods driving my transdisciplinary research draw from training in chemical ecology and clinical nutrition (NIH TEACRS postdoctoral research at Tufts University); biology, plant sciences, and phytochemistry (PhD at the City University of New York and the New York Botanical Garden); cultural anthropology and ethnobotany (MSc from the University of Kent at Canterbury); and economics (BA from Barnard College).

I currently serve as the Director of the Translational Biomarkers Core at MSU, an Associate Editor for the journals Food Security and Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, a Scientific Review Committee Member of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, an Advisory Committee Member of the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, an Academic Advisory Board Member of the World Tea Institute at the University of California at Davis, and a Science Advisor for the Botany in Action Fellowship Selection Committee of Phipps Conservatory.

I am currently focused on research and dissemination activities for six collaborative federally funded projects that support my research priority areas including the following:

  • Advancing an Inclusive Food Systems Curriculum based on a Signature Pedagogy (USDA HEC)
  • Sustainable Socio-economic, Ecological, and Technological Scenarios for Achieving Global Climate Stabilization Through Negative CO2 Emission Policies (NSF EPSCoR)
  • Advancing Healthy and Sustainable Diets for All through a Social Media and Nutrition Education Intervention on the Flathead Reservation of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (NIH INBRE)
  • Translational Biomarkers Core, Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity (NIH COBRE)
  • Climate Effects on Tea Quality and Socio-Economic Responses (NSF CNH)
  • Climate Effects on the Culture and Ecology of Sugar Maple (USGS NE Climate Center)

Ahmed, S.; Sclafani, A.; Aquino, E.; Kala, S.; Barias, L.; Eeg, J. 2017. Building Student Capacity to Lead Sustainability Transitions in the Food System through Farm-based Authentic Research Modules in Sustainability Sciences (FARMS). Elementa Science of the Anthropocene 5: 46 (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.239)

Ahmed, S.; Stepp, J.R. 2016. Beyond Yields: Climate Effects on Specialty Crop Quality and Agroecological Management. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene (Forum on New Pathways to Sustainability in Agroecological Systems). 4: 000092

Herforth, A.; Ahmed, S. 2015. The Food Environment, Its Effects on Dietary Consumption, and Potential for Measurement Within Agriculture-Nutrition Interventions. Food Security 7(3): 505-520

Ahmed, S; Stepp, JR; Orians, C.; Griffin, T; Matyas, C.; Robbat, A.; Cash, S.; Xue, D; Chunlin, L; Unachuckwu, U.; Buckley, S; Small, D; Kennelly, E. 2014. Effects of Extreme Climate Events on Tea (Camellia sinensis) Functional Quality Validate Indigenous Farmer Knowledge and Sensory Preferences in Tropical China. PLoS One 9(10): e109126

Ahmed, S.; Peters, C.M.; Chunlin, L.; Meyer, R.; Unachukwu, U.; Litt, A.; Kennelly, E.; Stepp, J.R. 2013. Biodiversity and Phytochemical Quality in Indigenous and State-Supported Tea Management Systems of Yunnan, China. Conservation Letters. 5 (6): 28-3

Stoeckle, M.; Gamble, C.; Kirpekar, R.; Young, G.; Ahmed, S.; Little, D. 2011. Commercial Teas Highlight Plant DNA Barcode Identification Successes and Obstacles. Scientific Reports. 1 (42)

To learn more about my collaborative projects, please visit the websites below:

  1. MSU Food and Health Lab at montana.edu/foodandhealthlab/
  2. NSF EPSCoR on Water Agriculture Food Energy Research: http://waferx.montana.edu/
  3. NSF CNH Tea and Climate Project: teaclimate.org
  4. USGS Maple and Climate Project: blogs.umass.edu/acernet