Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc, MSc, PhD

June joined NRI in January 2020. Before joining NRI, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Laval University (Canada). Her postdoctoral research focused on the rural livelihoods of ethnic minorities who produce traditionally distilled rice and maize alcohol in the Sino-Vietnamese borderlands.

June uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore issues regarding social-ecological resilience, gender and development, social norms and values, adaptive capacity, and resource governance that are integral to the livelihoods of marginalised communities. She has research experience in sustainable rural livelihoods, food and nutritional security, inter-institutional dynamics in natural resource governance, biomass cooking fuel use and population health. She has field experience from Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Vietnam.

June graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a double degree in Biochemistry and Psychology. She worked on mRNA turnover in African Trypanosomes at the Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie Heidelberg, bioluminescence imaging of Toxoplasma gondii infection at CIHR-UBC Translational Research in Infectious Diseases, and Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation as an undergraduate research assistant. She gained a MSc in Global Health and Population in 2010, mentored by Prof. Richard Levins and Prof. S V Subramanian, at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. After the MSc completion, she worked at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies as an analyst. She contributed to the development of an estimation of household permanent income from physical assets ownership in LMIC and an index of reproductive health laws from 1960 to 2009 in 186 countries. In 2017, she gained a PhD in social-ecological systems and food security, supervised by Prof. Gordon Hickey at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Dr June Po has a keen interest in understanding feedbacks and dynamics of social-ecological resilience. In particular, topics on:

  • transformations to sustainability
  • agency, power, and gender dynamics
  • sustainable food systems
  • planetary boundaries and health
  • institutional interplay in natural resource governance
  • diverse and hybrid knowledge systems

She is also interested in operationalising action research on conservation/ regenerative agriculture and climate change, incorporating insights from soil science, agroecology, development geography, political ecology, and co-construction of knowledge between technical experts and other societal groups.

MSc course, guest lecturer, NRI:

  • Agricultural and Natural Resources Innovation for Development, Agriculture for Sustainable Development and Global Environmental Change programme

BSc course, guest lecturer, Faculty of Education, Health and Human Sciences:

  • Introduction to Public Health and Health Promotion
  • Community Development and Engagement

Workshop: three-day qualitative research methods seminar in collaboration with colleagues from NRI, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and University of Reading. The research seminar is tailored towards the research proposals and methodological needs of African doctoral students among the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).

2021-2026: UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training

Funding: UKRI Strategic Priority Fund

Led by Professor Andrew Westby with a consortium of 9 partner institutions, I contributed as PhD Programme Lead and CDT co-manager.

2020-2022: SENTINEL: Social and Environmental Trade-Offs in African Agriculture

Funding: Global Challenge Research Fund

I collaborate with a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the UK, Ghana, Zambia, and Ethiopia to examine the trade-offs of forest conservation and agricultural expansion.

2021-2022: African Agriculture Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Funding: Innovate UK - co-Investigator

This partnership between NRI, Egerton University, and Anolei Women Camel Milk Co-operative aims to expand camel milk commodity value chain in East Africa through improved production, processing, storage and novel product development, such as a semi-soft cheese called “Camelbert”, with a focus on knowledge and technology adoption, and women’s entrepreneurial empowerment to the proposed research.

2018-2019: Distilling livelihoods: traditional alcohol and livelihood diversification among ethnic minorities in the uplands of northern Vietnam

Funding: Fonds de recherche du Québec Société et culture – Postdoctoral Fellowship

In the Sino-Vietnamese borderlands, the growing middle class of Kinh lowlanders and the expansion of the tourism industry in the uplands has increased the demand for traditionally distilled alcohol produced by ethnic minority communities. This research explores how traditional ecological knowledge of local alcohol within Hmong and Yao ethnic minority communities is changing under the context of state cultural preservation policy and development goals.

2015-2019: Developing a framework to address the challenges of multi-level rules of governance in social-ecological systems

Funding: Québec Centre for Biodiversity Science

Building on Elinor Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development framework, a group of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at the Sustainable Futures Research Laboratory developed and applied the Inter-Institutional Gap framework on four cases of natural resource governance in Bangladesh, Canada, India, and South Korea. This research has resulted in a peer-reviewed article in the International Journal of the Commons and a special issue in Society & Natural Resources.

2012-2016: Innovating for Resilient Farming Systems in Semi-arid Kenya

Funding: International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Global Affairs Canada (previously named Canadian International Development Agency) (2011-14), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2012-15), Réseau de recherche en santé des populations du Québec (2015), and Margaret A. Gilliam Fellowship in Food Security (2016).

As a doctoral researcher, June examined the relationships between Kamba women’s access to land resources and child growth, focusing on local, gendered institutions on land allocation, women’s agricultural decision-making, and social capital. She also acquired external funding to disseminate research findings to local participants, primarily Kamba women and farmers, after project completion.

  • Picchioni, F, Po, JYT, Forsythe, L. (2021). Strengthening resilience in response to COVID-19: a call to integrate social reproduction in sustainable food systems. Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 42(1-2): 28-36.
  • Jellason, NP, Robinson, EJZ, Chapman, ASA, Neina, D, Devenish, AJM, Po, JYT, Adolph, B. (2021). A systematic review of drivers and constraints on agricultural expansion in sub-Saharan Africa. Land, 10(3):332.
  • Po, JYT and Hickey, GM. (2020). Cross-scale relationships between social capital and women's participation in decision-making on the farm: A multilevel study in semi-arid Kenya. Journal of Rural Studies, 78: 333-349.
  • Po, JYT, Langill, J, Turner, S and Michaud, J. (2020). Distilling culture into commodity? The emergent homemade alcohol trade and gendered livelihoods in upland northern Vietnam. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 21(5): 397-415.
  • Po, JYT, Saint Ville, A, Rahman, HMT, and Hickey, GM. (Eds.) (2019) On Institutional diversity and interplay in natural resource governance. Society and Natural Resources. DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2019.1667463
  • Po, JYT, Bukania, Z, Muhammad, L, and Hickey, GM. (2019) Associations between women’s agricultural decision-making and child nutritional status in semi-arid Kenya: an empirical study. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. DOI: 10.1080/19320248.2019.1617214
  • Saint Ville, A., Po, JYT, Sen, A, Bui, A, and Melgar Quiñonez, H. (Eds.) (2019) Special section: Food security and Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES): Ensuring progress by 2030. Food Security. DOI: 10.1007/s12571-019-00936-9
  • Rahman, HMT, Po, JYT, Saint Ville, AS, Brunet, ND, Clare, S, Pigford, A, Darling, S, and Hickey, GM. (2019) Legitimacy of different knowledge types in natural resource governance and their functions in inter-institutional gaps. Society and Natural Resources. DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2019.1658140
  • Po, JYT, and Hickey, GM. (2018) Local institutions and smallholder women’s access to land resources in semi-arid Kenya. Land Use Policy, 76: 252-263. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.03.055
  • Rahman, HMT, Saint Ville, AS, Song, AM, Po, JYT, Berthet, E, Brammer, JR, Brunet, ND, Jayaprakash, G,  Lowitt KN, Rastogi, A, Reed, G, and Hickey, GM. (2017) Inter-institutional Gap Framework: Addressing the challenges of multi-level rules for governance in social-ecological systems. International Journal of the Commons, 11(2): 823–853. DOI: 10.18352/ijc.758
  • Po, JYT, Finlay, JE, Brewster, MB and Canning, D. (2012) Estimating Household Permanent Income from Ownership of Physical Assets. Program of Global Demography of Aging Working Paper Series, #97.
  •  Finlay, JE, Canning, D, and Po, JYT. (2012). Reproductive Health Laws Around the World. Harvard University Program of Global Demography of Aging Working Paper Series #96.
  • Po, JYT, and Subramanian, SV. (2011) Mortality burden and socioeconomic status in India. PLoS ONE 6(2): e16844. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016844
  • Po, JYT, FitzGerald, JM, and Carlsten, C. (2011) Respiratory disease associated with solid biomass fuel exposure in rural women and children: systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax, 66(3):232-239. DOI: 10.1136/thx.2010.147884.
  • Wurst, M, Robles, A, Po, J, Luu, VD, Brems, S, Marentije, M, … Clayton, C. (2009) An RNAi screen of the RRM-domain proteins of Trypanosoma brucei. Molecular Biochemical Parasitology, 163(1):61-65.
  • Clayton, C, Schwede, A, Stewart, M, Robles, A, Benz, C, Po, J, … Archer, S. (2008) Control of mRNA degradation in trypanosomes. Biochemical Society Transactions, 36(3):520-521.

Book Section

  • Quan, J, Forsythe, L, Po, JYT. (2021) Advancing women’s position by recognizing and strengthening customary land rights: Lessons from community-based land interventions in Mozambique. In U.E. Chigbu (Ed.), Land Governance and Gender: The Tenure-Gender Nexus in Land Management and Land Policy (pp. ). CABI (in press)
  • Saint-Ville, A, Po, JYT, Sanatan, A. (2021) RastafarI and the formal state in their struggles for food sovereignty: A case of Jamaica in the English-speaking Caribbean. In A Pigford & HMT Rahman (Eds.), Institutional Diversity and Environmental Sustainability. CRC Press. (under review)
  • Po, JYT, and Bukania, Z. (2016) Land to feed my grand-children: grand-mothers’ challenge to access land resources in dryland Kenya. In L. Brownhill, et al. (Eds.), Food Security, Gender and Resilience: Improving Smallholder and Subsistence Farming (pp. 55-72). London, UK: Earthscan.
  • James, C, and Po, JYT. (2016) Banking on change: an ethnographic exploration into rural finance as a gendered resilience practice among smallholders. In: L. Brownhill, et al. (Eds.), Food Security, Gender and Resilience: Improving Smallholder and Subsistence Farming (pp. 90-104). London, UK: Earthscan.

Staff Mental Health Champion

  • 2018 – 2019 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Fonds de recherche du Québec société et culture
  • 2015 – 2016 Margaret A. Gilliam Fellowship in Food Security
  • 2015 Seed Grant, Québec Centre for Biodiversity Science (Team applicant)
  • 2015 Research Dissemination Grant, Concours Regroupement Stratégique en Santé Mondiale du Réseau de Recherche en Santé des Populations du Québec
  • 2012-2015 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarship
  • 2009 World Bank Grant Competition South Asia Regional Development Marketplace on Nutrition (Team applicant)


  • Member American Association of Geographers
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