Lia C. Haskin Fernald PhD, MBA

Director, Public Health Nutrition
Professor, Community Health Sciences
  • Fulbright Scholar - Jamaica
  • PhD - University of London
  • MBA - UC Berkeley
  • BA - Swarthmore College
  • PH196: Global Nutrition
  • PH206A: Food and Nutrition Programs and Policies
  • PH206D: International Food and Nutrition Programs and Policies
  • PH207A: Public Health Aspects of Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • PH298.56: Current Issues in Public Health Nutrition
  • PH298.56: Public Health Nutrition Capstone Course
Research Interests: 
  • Psychosocial and biological determinants of health
  • Obesity, overweight, and nutritional and epidemiologic transition
  • Malnutrition, international child health and development
  • Immigrant health, inequalities and health disparities
  • Early experience, stress hormones, salivary cortisol
Research Description: 

Dr. Fernald’s work has focused primarily on how inequalities in socio-economic position contribute to growth and developmental outcomes in mothers, infants and children, and on how interventions can address socio-economic and health disparities. Much of her work for the past decade has centered on looking at the effects of interventions (e.g. conditional cash transfer programs, parenting programs, microcredit interventions, and community-based nutrition interventions) on child development and maternal mental health, particularly focused on low and middle-income countries. She recently worked with a team of authors to write a review for The Lancet about strategies to address poor development among infants and children in low and middle-income countries.

Current Projects: 

Title: Improving outcomes for indigenous children in Mexico
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: UBS Foundation
Goals: To examine the separate and synergistic effects of conditional cash transfer programs and parenting programs on child outcomes. 
Dates of Approved Project:  1/1/13 – 6/30/14

Title: Addressing malnutrition in Madagascar
Role: Principal Investigator (with Emanuela Galasso, World Bank)
Source:  SIEF – Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund, World Bank
Goals: Conduct a multi-arm randomized controlled trial to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of combined interventions designed to tackle chronic malnutrition. 
Dates of Approved Project:  7/1/12 – 12/31/15

Title: Early child development programs: effective interventions for human development.
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Jere Behrman, University of Pennsylvania)
Source: National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development
Goals: Describe patterns of growth and cognition in large cohort of Chilean children. 
Dates of Approved Project:  6/1/12 – 5/31/17

Title: Growth recovery, schooling and cognitive achievement: Evidence from four cohorts
Role: Co-investigator (PI: Kirk Dearden, Boston University)
Source:National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development
Goals: Describe growth patterns—including recovery from growth failure among 8000 children from predominantly low-income families in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. 
Dates of Approved Project:  6/1/12 – 5/31/16

Title: Effects of Quality Improvement Strategies on Early Childhood Development in Community-Based Childcare Centers in Malawi: A Randomized Trial
Role: Principal Investigator (with Berk Ozler, University of Otago)
Source: SIEF – Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund, World Bank
Goals: Study the effects of teacher incentives and training, parental education, and learning materials for children's development and their readiness for primary school. 
Dates of Approved Project:  10/1/11 – 8/31/14

Title: Community-based early childhood stimulation intervention
Role: Co- Principal Investigator (with Lynnette Neufeld, Micronutrient Initiative)
Source: Mexican Government's Early Childhood Education Department
Goals: To test effectiveness of randomized intervention of community health worker home-visits in combination with Oportunidades (a conditional cash transfer program) in rural areas in Mexico. 
Dates of Approved Project: 5/1/08-12/31/13

Title: Interactive dynamics of wildlife populations, human health and household wealth in rural Africa.
Role:  Co-Investigator (PI: Justin Brashares, UC Berkeley)
Source:  National Science Foundation
Goals: To examine the social drivers of wildlife over-harvest contributing to a world-wide decline in biodiversity.  
Dates of Approved Project:  8/1/11 – 7/31/16

Title: Measuring the benefits of water quality, sanitation and handwashing interventions for improving health and development
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Jack Colford, UC Berkeley)
Source: Gates Foundation
Goals: To evaluate the full spectrum of benefits arising from improvements to drinking water, the provision of sanitation services, and the delivery of handwashing promotion we will design and conduct a randomized, controlled trial enrolling 10,000 children in two low-income countries.
Dates of Approved Project: 9/1/09-8/31/14

Selected Publications: 
Key publications from last 5 years

Fernald, LC Promise, and risks, of conditional cash transfer programs. The Lancet.  (2013) July 382(9886):7-9. Article on PubMed

Behrman, J.R., Engle, P. and Fernald, LC  (2013) "Preschool programs in Developing Countries."  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Education Policy in Developing Countries: What do we know, and what should we do to understand what we don't know?  Paul Glewwe, Ed.

Fernald, LC, Kariger, P.K., Hidrobo, M., and Gertler, P.J.  Socio-economic gradients in child development in very young children: Evidence from India, Indonesia, Peru and Senegal.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) (2012) Oct 16;109 Suppl 2:17273-80. Article on PubMed

Fernald, LC, Gertler P.J., and Hidrobo, M. Conditional cash transfer programs: effects on growth, health and development in young children.  Poverty and Child Development.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.  Valerie Malholmes and Rosalind King, Editors. (2012)

Engle, P.L., Fernald, LC, Alderman, H., Behrman, J., O'Gara, C., Yousafzai, A., Cabral de Mello, M., Hidrobo, M., Ulkuer, N., Ertem, I. and Iltus, S.  Strategies for improving developmental outcomes for young children in low and middle income countries. The Lancet (2011) Oct 8; 378(9799):1339-53. Article on PubMed

Fernald, LC and Hidrobo, M.  Ecuador's cash transfer program (Bono de Desarrollo Humano) and child development in infants and toddlers: A randomized effectiveness trial.  Social Science and Medicine  May;72(9):1437-46 (2011). Article on PubMed

Ozer, E., Fernald, LC, Weber, A., Flynn, E., VanderWeele, T.J.  Does alleviating poverty affect mothers' depression?  A quasi-experimental investigation of Mexico's Oportunidades program. International Journal of Epidemiology (2011) Dec; 40(6): 1565-76. Article on PubMed

Fernald, LC, Weber, A., Galasso, E., and Ratsifandrihamanana, L.  Socio-economic gradients and child development in a very low income population: Evidence from Madagascar.  Developmental Science. Jul;14(4):832-47 (2011). Article on PubMed

Fernald, LC, Kariger, P.K., Engle, P. and Raikes, A.  Examining child development in low-income countries: a toolkit for the assessment of children in the first five years of life.  Washington D.C.: The World Bank (2009). See PDF

Fernald, LC and Gunnar, M.R.  Poverty-alleviation program participation and salivary cortisol in very low-income children. Social Science and Medicine Jun 68(12):2180-9 (2009). Article on PubMed

Fernald, L.C.H., Gertler, P.J., and Neufeld, L.M.  Ten-year impact of Oportunidades – Mexico's conditional cash transfer program – on child growth, cognition, language and behavior.  The Lancet 374(9706): 1997-2005 (2009). Article on PubMed

Fernald, L.C.H., Gertler, P.J. and Neufeld, L.M.  Role of cash in conditional cash transfer programmes for child health, growth and development: An analysis of Mexico's Oportunidades.  The Lancet 371: 828-837 (2008)Article on PubMed

Other interests: 
  • Member, Steering Committee, Global Child Development Group
  • Associate Editor, Public Health Nutrition
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Community Health
  • Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program (Affiliated Faculty)
  • Consultant to World Bank and Governments of Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia
  • Invited scientific reviewer for NIH, NSF, and Wellcome Trust review panels
Profile Updated: September 12, 2016