Sarah Kopper is a first-year Ph.D. student in agriculture, food and resource economics and a University Distinguished Fellow. She is particularly interested in studying food security. Here, she reflects on why she came to study at MSU.
After I graduated from Cornell, I spent two years in the Peace Corps. I was living in Senegal in a major rice-producing area and I became interested in agricultural development because I saw how critical that is to any sort of development, especially food security.
MSU is really strong in food security and has a lot of really interesting projects going on. I was an econ major in my undergraduate career and I focused on development economics. Spending time in Senegal in the Peace Corps solidified that interest and directed me toward agricultural economics and food security.
I’ve been helping some faculty with a project in Myanmar, which has recently opened its economy. USAID has asked MSU to do a diagnostic overview of the agricultural sector there and see what the potential is and where things stand right now.
With Myanmar there is huge potential for future research because so little has been done. The last population census was taken in 1983 so it’s really hard to get good data at the moment and do any sort of work.
Beyond that, I don’t know exactly where my research will take me. MSU has given me the freedom to choose what I want to do, follow what I’m actually interested in pursuing as opposed to where my funding is. It’s given me more freedom to work things out on my own and pick and choose from different research areas until I find one that really is a good fit.