Abbey ,who completed the MDP in January 2020, first developed an interest in food security while volunteering with Unity Gardens, in South Bend, Indiana. Seeing the South Bend community come together to offer essential resources to its most vulnerable populations challenged her ideas about classical economic theory and strengthened her interest in alternative development strategies. As an MDP student was able to explore the intersection of economics, food security and community-driven development. Abbey focused on Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), believing that effective M&E is crucial for informed decision making, determining program effectiveness and ensuring transparency and accountability.
As an MDP student, Abbey took advantage of the diverse learning opportunities available. She interned with the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona researching food acquisition strategies in rural border towns using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. She presented her research at the 2019 Society for Applied Anthropology annual meeting. Abbey also had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Tom Evans on NSF funded research evaluating food security, climate change and water governance strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, the MDP program led Abbey to an internship with the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, analyzing data related to girls’ education.