Dr. Eva Monterrosa - Sr. Scientific Manager at Sight and Life




Eva, you work as a "Senior Scientific Manager" at Sight and Life (SAL) - how did you decide on this job?


In 2012, upon completing my post-doctoral training in the U.S., I interviewed for a position at SAL based in Switzerland. The role was to support the SAL with the World Food Programme – DSM Partnership 50% of the time and the other 50% was slotted for technical assistance on projects that aligned with my area of expertise, which is maternal and child nutrition. I accepted the job, as I was interested in the exposure to a global network and I wanted to experience doing research outside of the confines of academia. The time split never worked out this way, and I ended up working on SAL’s vast portfolio of activities, which has provided me with an incredible wide range of experiences.


You and SAL also contributed to the founding of The Society for Implementation Science in Nutrition - can you share a little more about this?


Beginning in 2010 the nutrition community saw a strong global political will for nutrition, with the founding the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, and in 2013 the Nutrition4Growth gained financial commitments to support investments in nutrition. I saw this unfold and remember the many discussions with my boss at SAL, Klaus Kraemer, about this momentum and the tremendous opportunity for nutrition.The Global Nutrition Community makes remarkable progress on issues when there is demonstrated leadership on the topic (i.e., globally-led initiative) and when scientists and practitioners together translate evidence-based interventions into large-scale programs. And while we have thousands of nutrition professionals and hundreds of scientists working tirelessly to scale up effective actions, that knowledge is held in some report or donor-led evaluation or resides in our minds as part of our experiences (i.e., tacit information). Imagine if we could organize that knowledge and draw from all that experience on how to scale evidence-based actions. It was more urgent now given the high political commitment for nutrition. Therefore, in 2014 SAL made a small investment to explore the founding of a society that would focus on implementation research and science so that we could all be more effective in scaling up evidence-based actions. We began with a 6-person Secretariat that quickly expanded in 2015 to include 40 Founding members and then in 2016 The Society for Implementation Science was incorporated as its own independent educational organization based in the U.S.. We are a member-led organization, now with 200 nutrition professionals and scientists from all over the world. It’s been an honor to support the Society on its journey, from idea to organization.


What did you study and at which university? What specialization did you have?


I have a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science and a Masters of Science in Human Nutrition and Metabolism from the University of Alberta; and a Doctoral degree in International Nutrition from Cornell University. I completed a Post-doctoral training at the University of South Carolina. My area of expertise and my passion is to examine how mothers make food choices for themselves and their families and use that knowledge to design programs that empower mothers to make better food choices. I’m particularly interested in the complementary feeding period in infancy and young childhood and pregnancy.


Did you like the studies and would you study the same again?


I did enjoy my 14 years in University!! I must have, to stay there so long. Even though I have focused on nutrition all this time, I have attained a variety of training, such as epidemiology, anthropometry, ethnography, and human metabolism and physiology. I think if I were to ever go back to school, I would aspire for a master’s in business administration with a focus on marketing


How can we imagine a typical day in your professional life?


We are a very international team at SAL and spread across 3 continents and many time zones, so we do remote work. A typical day for me is spent on my computer answering emails. The majority of my day is dedicated to managing, reviewing documents, answering questions, planning my travel and getting ready for those in-country trips, which often include many meetings with stakeholders, power point presentations, or field research, if I’m working on research project.


If you have a family, how do you organize yourself to manage work and family?


My husband and I do not have children, but that doesn’t mean that childless couples should spend more time working. Of course, we have more flexibility because our schedules are not bound to a child’s routine, nonetheless, it’s important for us to spend time together, stay active, visit with our friends and spend time with our families that live in U.S. and Mexico. My husband is strict about not working on weekends and I only break his rule if there is a looming deadline on a major project.


What would you recommend Nutrition Experts to do in order to have a successful career?


I think the same advice that applies to any professional applies to nutrition experts, namely to develop and nurture a network, stay informed of the changes in your profession, develop mastery and then move on to learn something new. Even if you do not have a PhD, I encourage any nutrition professional to have a domain expertise by understanding the research in your practice area and position research findings to inform their job. For example, you might be the expert on how technology affects eating habits. As a result, people in your network should be able to turn to you because you know your practice area and can provide added value.

To read more about the great work Eva does at Sight and Life, visit:

https://sightandlife.org

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