Undergraduate Research and Creativity Alumni Profiles 

Adza Beda, B.S. '17

International Development Professional
Major(s): International Development

What research or work have you done since graduating from Buffalo State?

I was recently a consultant for the International Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. ILRI is an organization dedicated to improving food and nutritional security while reducing poverty in developing countries. I collected Rapid Rural Appraisals (RRAs) in 22 counties in Northern Kenyan pastoralist communities. I also analyzed the data for USAID-funded food security and climate change resilience projects. In addition, team and I made recommendations to inform policy and improve organizational goals for women and youth.

Can you translate your work for the general public?

I collected data in 22 counties of Northern Kenya with a team of four amazing women. We facilitated 66 focus group sessions to better understand local food security issues and ways they could be improved. We reported our findings to ILRI and made recommendations on how the organization could improve it's project delivery.

Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

It was an excellent way to experience international development as an undergraduate student.

How did your undergraduate research experience influence your career path?

Belize was my first impactful hands-on experience in international fieldwork. It ignited my passion to pursue a career in development.

Describe the research you did and if you presented it at any professional conference, juried art exhibit, or other off-campus location.

I examined the exploitation of chocolate industry workers and slaves in West Africa, juxtaposing that injustice with the fair trade farms in Belize where cacao farm workers are generally treated fairly. My project included ethnographic research of contemporary Mayan culture amongst Kekchi (Q'eqchi') and Mopan cacao farmers in Belize. My participatory ethnographic research involved working as a farm laborer at the Maya Mountain Research Farm, cultivating traditional heirloom cacao. My work concluded with suggestions of new fair trade policies that may benefit workers and countries in which unethical treatment is prevalent.

Undergraduate Research Mentor: Dr. Michael Niman