Foundation Scholar Elizabeth Larsen

The Chicago Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club and Northwestern University are sponsoring Elizabeth Larsen to make a circumnavigation in 2014 while conducting research on a topic she has selected: "Tackling Childhood Malnutrition: A global study of scaling up grassroots approaches to catalyze world progress".

There were articles on her grant from: Northwestern University,
the Office of Undergraduate Research, and the Daily Northwestern.

Here is a link to Elizabeth's blog & photos from her trip.

Background on Elizabeth Larsen

Elizabeth grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. Throughout her life, she was active in academics, sports, and volunteer activities, but she spent the majority of her time at the Iowa Gym-Nest, as a member of the competitive gymnastics team. At City High School, she also was an avid hurdler and high jumper on the track team, and she is a member of Shuttle Hurdle Relay team that holds the standing school record. She also enjoyed organizing monthly dinners at the Ronald McDonald House and acting as a founding member of the mock trial team. She graduated as a valedictorian of her class and was also honored as a US Presidential Scholar Semifinalist, a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and an Iowa Governor's Scholar Awardee.

Now, Elizabeth is a junior in the Honors Program of Medical Education (HPME) at Northwestern University. The HPME admits students simultaneously to one of the undergraduate colleges at Northwestern University in Evanston and Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. She is studying Economics and Global Health in the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences. Outside of class, Elizabeth works on the Partnerships Team at GlobeMed, a Chicago based nonprofit that aims to strengthen the movement for global health equity by empowering students and communities to work together to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world. She also enjoys practicing with the NU Club Gymnastics team.

Last summer, Elizabeth traveled to Uganda with the support of NU's International Program Development Office. She attended the 2013 GlobeMed East Africa Forum, in which she met many grassroots change-makers from across Africa. After returning from Uganda, she spent two months in Guatemala with the support of the Global Health Initiative, conducting a research project examining the impact of a nutrition recuperation program in a nonprofit clinic called Primeros Pasos.

These two experiences vastly expanded her knowledge and views on global development, but left Elizabeth asking many questions. One that especially stuck with her was, why is childhood malnutrition still so prevalent in our world when there are many grassroots programs achieving enormous success? The solutions are clearly out there, but they aren't reaching a global audience. Her project this summer investigates how these small nutrition programs could be scaled up to catalyze progress across a wider population.

Photos of Elizabeth Larsen

Photos of Elizabeth with a friend in Uganda & Jumping for Joy at Mt. Tajumulco, highest point in Central America.

Elizabeth Uganda

Catherine Class

Elizabeth Larsen's Research Topic

Elizabeth will travel to six countries across the world this summer to pursue her project entitled, “Tackling Childhood Malnutrition: A global study of scaling up grassroots approaches to catalyze world progress.” She aims to study how high impact grassroots nutrition programs can be scaled up to catalyze progress across a wider population.

Throughout six countries — Guatemala, Peru, Uganda, Rwanda, Nepal, and Cambodia — she will investigate the implementation science behind eight childhood nutrition initiatives that have proven to be high impact in their communities. The programs that Elizabeth will study are small, and therefore understudied, yet they all have produced incredible results within their catchment areas.

The implementation science that she will be seeking to understand throughout her project includes the funding, staffing, and programmatic strategy of each case study organization. She hopes that this in-depth knowledge of the implementation of programs can then be translated into a better idea of how to scale up these initiatives to create more effective interventions and improved population health across the globe.

Itinerary of Circumnavigation (draft)

Elizabeth will be visiting these countries during her circumnavigation in the summer of 2014.

  • Guatemala — June 17th, 2014
  • Peru — June 30th, 2014
  • Austria — July 28th, 2014
  • Uganda — August 1st, 2014
  • Rwanda — August 14th, 2014
  • Nepal — August 21st, 2014
  • Cambodia — September 6th, 2014