Hanisha Patel

Mentor: Dr. Susan Percival
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"Initially, I planned to work in Dr. Percival's lab as only a volunteer, but her enthusiasm and overwhelming care for the malnourished population of Haiti inspired me to get involved and work with her through her research. I hope to be impactful with this research, and gain valuable knowledge on the nutritional status of the people of Haiti to develop techniques to aid them in this time of crONE.UF."

Major

Biology and Mathematics

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Nutrition
  • Public Health
  • Preventative Health Care

Academic Awards

  • Anderson Scholar of High Distinction (2012)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science for Life Award (2012)
  • University Scholars Program Award (2013)
  • University Women’s Club Scholarship Award (2013)

Organizations

  • University Math Society-Founder and Vice President (2011-present)
  • Health Educated Asian Leaders (2010-2012)
  • Haiti Working Group (2012-2013)

Volunteer

  • Mobile Outreach Clinic Volunteer (2012-present)
  • Arts and Medicine Volunteer (2013)

Hobbies and Interests

  • Art
  • Music
  • Reading
  • Drinking Tea

Research Description

Analysis of Nutritional Intake and Diets of Haitian People

The country of Haiti is undergoing a period of vast economic and social depression. On January 12th 2010, Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 7.0. This disaster killed thousands, injured many more thousands, and displaced nearly a quarter of the population into relief camps. Particularly tragic is the living conditions of the people. A study by Johns Hopkins indicated that 90% of camp and 73% of household incomes had their incomes affected negatively by the effects of the earthquake. As a result of this, homemakers are unable to put food on the table, leading to widespread nutrient deficiency that is escalating unchecked. On top of the earthquake and persistent economic disaster, Haiti faced a cholera epidemic in October 2010, a result of the earthquake destroying vital water and sanitation infrastructure. Clearly, malnutrition is rampant. Humanitarian assistance offers only temporary relief for those that are poverty-struck. Thus, we aim to provide long-term aid by education. If we can document what vital nutrients are predominately lacking throughout the population, we can use this information to develop an education tool to teach families what foods are nutrient-rich as well as how to create variety in meals to get those vital nutrients important for one's overall health. With this, we hope to set the stage for agricultural intervention, in which farmers are taught how to grow nutrient-rich crops to lessen the malnutrition that is overtaking the country of Haiti.