Dr Alexa Bellows

Chancellor's Fellow


Alexa is a nutritional epidemiologist whose research focuses on improving food systems to be healthier and more sustainable.  Alexa uses epidemiology and systems science to study how food system transformations can promote the adoption of healthy and sustainable diets. In 2022, she joined the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems as an IMMANA postdoctoral research fellowship to develop a metric to measure the sustainability of food environments and will be piloting the metric in India and Scotland.  In 2024 she was appointed as a Chancellor's Fellow. The aim of her fellowship is to develop new methods to advance food systems science and establish the Food Systems Monitoring and Evaluation Hub (MENU) at the University of Edinburgh. 

Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, she obtained her masters in nutritional epidemiology from Harvard Chan School of Public Health and went on to complete her doctorate in International Health (Human Nutrition) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her dissertation focused on changes in the food environment and its relationship to dietary intake and nutritional status of women in rural Bangladesh. While at Hopkins, Alexa was also a core team member for the Food Systems Dashboard and facilitated in the development of a food systems diagnostic metric to measure healthy and sustainable food systems.


PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

MS, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

BS, Cornell University

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Project activity

Co-Development of Scottish Zero-Carbon Bread: The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target of achieving net zero by 2045. This target will not be met without significant improvements in the sustainability of food production and processing. In this project, together with a local Community Interest Company, we aim to establish the feasibility, economic viability and consumer acceptance of Zero-Carbon Loaf—a bread produced from a circular, carbon-neutral production system in Edinburgh. The main outcome will be a business plan for producing and marketing Zero-Carbon Bread. This will directly benefit local SMEs who are interested in producing this staple food with minimal carbon emissions.

Climate vulnerability and sustainability of food environments in urban India: The food environment is where people directly engage with the broader food system and represents an important setting to intervene to influence the environmental sustainability of food systems. Environmental sustainability within food environments is an understudied component of the food system but has direct implications for the local environment, particularly in urban areas. The overarching goal of this project is to develop a framework and metric for assessing the environmental sustainability of food environments in low- and middle-income countries. After developing the framework and metric, we will derive a food environment sustainability index for two cities in India (Ahmedabad and Pune) using secondary data analysis for transport, vendor properties, and food waste collected by the UFSAN project supplemented with primary data collection on food packaging. This project is funded by the IMMANA Postdoctoral Fellowship program through the Agriculture Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy.