PPA is pleased to welcome Dr. Brinda Athreya to our research team as a Research Associate II. She brings strong qualitative research skills and an expanding range of policy expertise, including food, food sovereignty, agriculture, and human geography. Her Ph.D. is in spatially integrated social sciences, giving her exceptional tools to communicate research findings to multiple audiences.

Tell us about some of your public policy interests and experiences.

After I got my master’s in urban planning, I became a research associate at the School of Freshwater Sciences. I worked in a fish lab, where we grew fish and harvested it sustainably and gave the fish to school meals program. This policy was an idea introduced during a visit to the lab by Michelle Obama to provide fresh food for school meals programs.

During my Ph.D. program, I studied government regulations and policies put in place for the health of Lake Erie. Lake Erie is suffering from algae bloom, and farmers have been blamed. But there are many other factors involved as well. I’ve also conducted research on vaccination hesitancy among children between 5 to 18 years of age. Good policies are important for every issue. And if you don’t have good policy, it is difficult to build on.

What are some of the skills you bring to PPA?

I am trained in qualitative research and spatial analysis and am especially interested in food policy and providing education to the community. My Ph.D. is in spatially integrated social sciences, and I use spatial analysis as a visualization tool to tell the stories of the research in compelling ways. You can do a lot of analysis and present a lot of numbers, but it is more powerful seeing them in different colors, using things like heat maps.

You’ve been at PPA for a couple of months. What are your impressions so far?

I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve met. Everybody is extremely smart, and they all have such good feedback to contribute in a conversation. It has been a good learning and growing experience.

What policy areas are you working on at PPA?

I’ve been currently conducting interviews for a child care study and am involved in another project involving the child care workforce. I am looking forward to research in other areas.

What do you like to do outside of work?

My husband and my son and I go out a lot and meet up with friends. Every weekend there is something going on. I don’t like monotony, so I like to seek out different events. In the summer, we grow our garden and play badminton.