Andrew Thompson, MSPH '12
Andrew is a graduate of the Program for Human Nutrition in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Current job position and description
I’m a Senior Program Analyst at Nutrition International, a global organization based in Ottawa, Canada, that delivers proven nutrition interventions to vulnerable people. We reach more than 500 million people globally with low-cost, high-impact nutrition interventions. I focus on special analyses on our portfolio of roughly US$60M in annual programming globally. By analyzing, assessing, and reporting on the impact of our work, I help stakeholders across all levels of NI – from staff on the ground to executive management – make informed, evidence-based decisions to maximize return on investment.
Why did you choose International Health’s Human Nutrition Program?
I’ve been interested in health for as long as I can remember, and found a passion for nutrition during undergrad. I chose Hopkins because of its legacy for nutrition research, and I wanted to be at the forefront of it; the structure of the master’s program appealed most because it would build on my experience and education to date. I was able to keep a focus on human nutrition while learning (and applying) the art of public health in courses such as biostatistics and epidemiology. It was also very important to me that the program provided an opportunity to work internationally, putting lessons from the classroom into practice in the field.
What was your MSPH practicum?
I worked in Kenya to evaluate the nutritional status of school feeding participants, supported by Sight and Life. During my practicum I hired, trained, and led a team who assessed child anthropometry, school attendance and academic performance, among other outcomes, of children participating in a locally supported school feeding program and compared them to children who did not participate. We found that children were better performing academically, were absent less often, and presented in better health if they had participated in the program. Our study’s findings also helped Macheo Children’s Center in Thika, Kenya—which founded and runs the programs—learn more about how to improve quality of meals served and better standardize their operating procedures.
Advice to students
Get involved as much as you can. There’s so much Hopkins can offer. Don’t be afraid to seek out faculty and staff to learn what they’re doing. They’re very receptive and willing to share. All the connections I made are priceless. I still feel comfortable reaching out to faculty, such as Amanda Palmer and Keith West. As Professor West’s assistant, Rhonda Skinner, recently told me, “You’re Hopkins, you’re always family.”
What are you working on now?
One exciting project I’m leading is the development and rollout of Nutritional International’s OMNI Tool (Outcome Modeling for Nutrition Impact). The tool allows users to estimate nutrition and human capital impacts related to low-cost, high-impact nutrition interventions. Its overall goal is to make estimating program impact more accessible, results more tangible for end-users, and strategy most relevant for programming decisions made by both internal and eventually external stakeholders. For example, computer-based dashboards can be customized so that teams in the field can quantify in real-time the results of their efforts such as child mortality or cases of stunting averted. We’re now opening this up with the wider community globally to improve the use of evidence-informed results, assist with nutrition program planning, reporting, and advocacy.
I’m also on the Macheo US Board of Directors supporting Macheo Children’s Center in Kenya which runs the program I evaluated as a Hopkins student. We’ve since built and continue to raise funds for an expanded rehabilitation feeding program for children under 2 in Kenya.