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: Addressing malnutrition in Madagascar
Role: Co-PI
Source: Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund, World Bank
Goal: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of combined interventions designed to tackle chronic malnutrition using a multi-arm randomized controlled trial
Dates of Approved Project: 7/1/12–12/31/18

Title: Distributing storybooks in Kenya to improve early literacy among vulnerable children
Role: Co-PI
Source: Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund, World Bank
Goal: To examine the effectiveness of a community-based, storybook distribution program to improve literacy among children in western Kenya
Dates of Approved Project: 1/1/14–12/31/19

Title: Quality improvements for preschools in Malawi: a randomized effectiveness trial
Role: Co-PI
Source: Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund, World Bank
Goals: To examine the separate and synergistic effects of conditional cash transfer programs and parenting programs on child outcomes.
Dates of Approved Project: 12/1/11–12/31/18

Title: Evaluation of the CAS program for Agandwadi worker support in India
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: Gates Foundation
Goal: To examine the effectiveness of a mobile application to support the work of community health workers in India
Dates of Approved Project: 9/1/16–8/31/18

Title: Integrated Interventions for Healthy Children in Bangladesh
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: Gates Foundation
Goal: To examine the effectiveness of a mobile application to support the work of community health workers in India
Dates of Approved Project: 9/1/16–8/31/21

Title: NA
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: University Research Co., USAID
Goals: To conduct a small number of multi-year mixed method research studies that may be experimental in design or using non-experimental methods and related primarily to advancing newborn, child, maternal, nutrition and other health-related programs; and to execute process and impact evaluations of maternal, newborn, child health and other health related activities
Dates of Approved Project: 1/1/17–12/31/22

Title: Nutritional supplementation and cognitive stimulation in Madagascar: the MAHAY study (PENDING)
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH
Goals: To use a randomized controlled design to evaluate the effects of lipid-based nutritional supplementation and parenting support on early child development
Dates of Approved Project: 4/1/17–3/31/19

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