FIELD RESEARCHER - Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy

Tufts University

Posting Title : FIELD RESEARCHER - Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy
Requisition Number : 1862
City : Sierra Leone
State/Province : Freetown
Zip code : 00000
Job Description-Overview :


**This is a grant funded, limited appointment position, with the possibility of extension for up to three years.**


Position to start immediately and be located in Boston, MA, USA for approximately 2 months, Sierra Leone, Africa for 2 years, and again in Boston, MA, USA for approximately 9 months. The total time commitment is 3 years.


Department Overview:

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, established in 1981, is the only self-governing graduate and professional school of nutrition in North America.Its mission is to improve the nutritional well-being of people worldwide through:

  • • the creation of new knowledge

  • • the application and dissemination of evidence-based information and

  • • the education and training of future leaders in the field

This mission is fulfilled by bringing together experts from the areas of clinical nutrition, social and public policy, and biomedicine. Faculty at the school include biomedical scientists, economists, epidemiologists, nutritionists, physicians, political scientists and psychologists who focus on a myriad of issues with the common thread of nutrition and its role in fostering the growth and development of human populations.


Position Overview:


The Friedman School of Nutrition is seeking a full-time Senior Field Researcher to work on a project relating to the assessment of the quality and programmatic uses of fortified food products used in U.S. Title II food aid programs.The project, called the Food Aid Quality Review, ( is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Office of Food for Peace (FFP).


The project was established in April 2009 to review the quality of Title II food products and programming through literature review, expert consultation, industry consultation, survey methods, and studies. The project completed its second year of research in April 2011 and submitted a final report to USAID with recommendations on changes to U.S. food aid products and programming. The next phase of the Food Aid Quality Review will involve presenting findings and recommendations, implementing many of the recommendations, and testing recommendations through follow-on studies or trials.


The Senior Field Researcher will work closely with the Principal Investigator (PI) and co-PI of the Food Aid Quality Review to implement a study to assess the effectiveness, cost, and cost-effectiveness of recommended changes to Corn Soy Blend. The study will compare:


1) Corn Soy Blend 14 (with whey protein concentrate and enhanced micronutrient profile), prepared with fortified vegetable oil (FVO)

2) An appropriate Lipid based Nutritional Supplement (LNS/RUSF)

3) Supercereal Plus (CSB++), the FBF used by WFP, which has an enhanced nutrient profile, dairy ingredient (non-fat dry milk), and oil already embedded into the CSB

4) Supercereal/CSB+ with FVO


Objective: To test the effectiveness of four supplementary foods in the prevention of MAM in normal programmatic settings in Sierra Leone, in amounts as normally programmed by WFP. This study will be implemented in conjunction with Project Peanut Butter and other PVOs. The Senior Field Researcher will be leading the Tufts activities which include the household data collection, market observations, body composition and household samples of water and porridge. The Senior Field Researcher will coordinate closely with the PI of the intervention study, who will be supervising research activities in the field.


Study Design

Comparison of four different supplementary foods in the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition in children in Sierra Leone. Twenty local sites in Sierra Leone will be used for a primary study to test the effectiveness of four supplementary foods in the treatment of MAM in normal programmatic settings in Sierra Leone: 1250 children per arm, 5,000 children in total will participate.


Children will be enrolled and graduate based on MUAC; weight and height will be recorded as well and available for final analysis. Locations (communities, clinics) will be assigned to one of the four arms (that is, commodities to be tested).Enrollment of children will be ongoing until the required sample size is reached. Children are enrolled when they qualify for supplementary feeding based on MUAC. These studies are effectiveness trials, meaning that the programs’ operation and the beneficiary households’ compliance with recommendations regarding treatment will be studied along with correct preparation and consumption of the food provided as determinants of the differential impact measured in the four arms of the study.It is hoped to start the field trials in mid-2013.


Treatment of MAM

The comparison will be based on a targeted food delivery to children 6-23 months and 24-59 months who are screened for MAM.Supplementary food rations will be delivered for 12 weeks from enrollment (diagnosis with MAM).Children will be monitored for relapse after discharge.It is anticipated that on average about 20 children with MAM will be recruited from each site per monthly visit.The total duration of the field trial will depend on the rate of enrollment, but is expected to be about 3 years.


The primary outcome measures will be recovery from MAM (achieving MUAC ≥ 12.5 cm by 12 weeks) once or failure (death, development of severe acute malnutrition, transfer to hospital for inpatient care, failure to recover from MAM by 12 weeks, default). Secondary outcome measures include rates of weight, height, and MUAC gain, time to graduation, and adverse effects from the supplementary foods.The focus of the Tufts research will be on household behavior: compliance with instructions about preparation and feeding of the food supplement, and on time costs and market impacts of the distribution of the food supplement.Cost effectiveness will assess differences among the four study arms in cost per case of MAM successfully treated.


The research will take place in communities surrounding Freetown, Sierra Leone.


In collaboration with the FAQR PI, the Senior Field Researcher’s responsibilities will include:

1. Take overall responsibility for management and coordination of all tasks related to the compliance behavior and cost-effectiveness research in the field.

2. Work with Project Peanut Butter Staff on assuring the delivery, transportation and proper storage of commodities in country.

3. Take the lead in drafting protocol and documents for the Tufts and national Institutional or Ethical Review Boards; work closely with FAQR PI and Research Coordinators and with the Project Peanut Butter PI to ensure satisfactory completion of the process.Work with Project Peanut Butter to select sample communities and sample clinic locations. Develop approach for selecting sample respondent households and market locations for data collection.

4. Work with PPB to develop training materials for health care workers and for beneficiaries.

5. Develop data collection instruments (questionnaires, focus group discussion guides, market observation checklists, protocols for the collection of porridge and water samples) in collaboration with the research team.

6. Take the lead in identifying and contracting a local research firm to assist in data collection (baseline through follow-ups) and supervise their activities. This includes the administration of questionnaires, conduct of focus groups, and in-home observations.

7. Conduct (or contract with a local researcher to conduct) a market analysis to assess availability and costs of commodities in the market.

8. Work with Project Peanut Butter to assist in ensuring proper study implementation: community sensitization of new food assistance products, training Health Care Workers on how to instruct beneficiaries to cook and consume food assistance products, supervising data collection.

9. Work with the Tufts team to analyze data on an ongoing basis.

10. Write quarterly progress reports throughout the project with interim results.

11. Work with research assistants to monitor and record the costs of each arm of the intervention.

12. Maintain ongoing close coordination with Project Peanut Butter staff.

13. Maintain regular coordination and submit regular progress reports to the PI and study coordinators.

14. Work with the Tufts team to write reports on the results of the study, including interim and final reports.

Job Description - Requirements :

Basic Requirements:

  • • MS/MPH in food policy/nutrition or related field with at least1-2 years of related experience.

  • • Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite. Familiarity with data analysis programs (such as STATA or Nvivo).

  • • Willing to live and travel internationally, between Boston, MA and Sierra Leone.

  • • Field research experience required.

  • • Ability to lift 20 pounds with or without accommodation.

  • • The Finalist for this position must successfully complete all appropriate background checks.

Preferred Qualifications:


3-5 years related experience strongly preferred or Ph.D. in food policy or nutrition plus 1-2 years experience. Experience conducting research in less developed countries in nutrition, health, or related programs at the community level. Experience with USAID, Title II programs. Experience with IRB approval process. Familiarity with GIS programs (ArcGIS); Excellent organizational and managerial ability, attention to detail, and ability to multitask; excellent research skills; excellent writing and editing skills.


Special Work Schedule Requirements:

**This is a grant funded, limited appointment position, with the possibility of extension for up to three years.**


This position will be full time beginning in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) for approximately 3 months of training, and will then locate to Sierra Leone for approximately 2 years during the period of study implementation and data collection, with trips to the US periodically. The needs of field research are erratic; there will be periods of intense activity as well as regular internal travel to research sites in the country.


The remainder of the time (approximately 1 year), the Senior Field Researcher will be based in Boston, Massachusetts, at Tufts University. During analysis and report writing (in Boston), the schedule will be more predictable but still may require overtime when reports are due.


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