Lead Mentor: Joseph Menicucci, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


2023 Students Team: 

Emma Brown ‘26

Hashem Alhattab ‘26

Isabella Richards ‘26

Larissa de Assis Rossini ‘26

Shane Haycock ‘26


Project Description:

Kazakhstan, the second-largest economy among the former Soviet republics, has been a destination for migrant workers from elsewhere in Central Asia and the world for several years. After a slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for migrant workers in Kazakhstan are expected to grow rapidly in the coming years - and challenges of unfair and exploitative labor practices, food and water access, and worker housing will likely grow as well. This new project began in 2023 with the initial goal of developing solutions to food and water insecurity amongst migrant workers in and around the fast-growing cultural capital of Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

After two weeks of fieldwork in 2023, the team has developed a working knowledge of important aspects of the fresh produce supply chain from the point of entry into Almaty to the consumer. Moreover, conversations with individuals and experts who help those who seek food assistance revealed that socioeconomic status - regardless of ethnicity or country of origin - is the primary driver of food insecurity in Kazakhstan. Finally, Kazakhstan is a country with a rich nomadic heritage and a unique culinary tradition centered around a meat-heavy diet. However, this dietary preference has led to a concerning challenge—micronutrient deficiency among children. Kazakhs also consume more than three times the WHO-recommended daily allowance of salt. Too much sodium in a diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. 

Students from all majors are welcome to apply for this project. The 2024 project team will use gathered information to propose possible paths for the continuation of this project. These paths will be explored in detail during fieldwork in Almaty in the summer of 2024. Students should have keen interest and/or experience or interest in: food security; human health and nutrition; solving complex problems; and/or the languages and cultures of Russia and Central Asia.