UK Data Service Data Impact Fellows 2019: Christian Reynolds

We are delighted that Christian Reynolds is one of our #DataImpactFellows for 2019.

Christian Reynolds is a an early career researcher working in roles at the University of Sheffield and for the sustainability charity WRAP.

Christian was previously a Public Health Research Fellow at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, where he researched healthy sustainable diets for high and low income groups using linear programming and agent based modelling. He has experience in economic input-output, material flow and environmental (Life Cycle Analysis) modelling and has published peer reviewed articles on these topics. He was  awarded his PhD in 2014.

Christian’s research

I am currently working in two roles:

Knowledge Exchange fellow for N8 Agrifood

N8 Agrifood is an interdisciplinary research programme that combines agrifood research with expertise in social sciences across 8 northern research intensive universities.

In this role – based out of the University of Sheffield – I work in a knowledge exchange and public engagement role across the 8 universities, creating cross-sectoral food system wide partnerships between researchers, industry, policymakers and citizens. 5% of my role is also researched focused.

My main research focus is quantifying the impacts of shifting to a healthy, sustainable diet. To do this I use UK Data Service data sets to model the economic, environmental, health, and social impacts of technological innovations; behaviour change interventions (related to shopping, cooking, and food waste; and dietary shifts.

I communicate my research on diet, food and sustainability to a broad audience through events such as blog posts, the Conversation articles and an active Twitter account, and (recently) through “hack nights” that integrated UK Data Service dietary data sets, such as the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, with sustainability data.

I am also the PI of the AHRC US-UK Food Digital Scholarship Network, a platform for US and UK cultural institutions, and researchers to network around the topic of food. The network is currently mapping what digitised food related data is stored within US and UK cultural institutions, and investigating methods to make this more accessible to researchers and the general public.

Technical Specialist and Analyst for the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

WRAP is a registered charity  whose aim is to create a world in which resources are used sustainably, it is a  global thought and policy leader in food sustainability and food waste.

I started my connection to WRAP as a 6-month part time Natural Environment Research Council innovation placement in WRAP in 2017. This placement allowed WRAP to expand their policy outlook from food waste to a broader food sustainability agenda. Part of this work was comparing  UK Data Service data sets such as the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) with similar data from WRAP, Valpak and Nielsen.

I have now joined as a full member of WRAP Global (the internationally facing team). At WRAP I now commonly use international data sets (including UN, World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), in addition to statistical agency data).

Christian’s plans

I would like to continue to focus on the nexus of diet, food and sustainability in my blog posts and engagement work as a Data Impact Fellow.

There is a wealth of diet and food related information stored in the UK Data Service, however, much of this has not been explored, harmonised, or linked to other data sets (including WRAP food waste data, nutritional data, or environmental impact data). I intend to champion the harmonisation and linking of food purchase, consumption, and food waste datasets.

To this end I would like to scope the possibility of linking the current UK Data Service datasets to sustainability data sets (such as water use, and greenhouse gas emissions), and then present results of this linking as a series of blog posts. I would also like to pilot new AI analysis methods to these datasets to highlight interesting and policy relevant findings (machine learning, deep learning, text mining, and predictive analytics). Specific focus will include:

  • information on household food insecurity, of interest considering the UK government is beginning to devise an official metric next year.
  • insight into calorie reduction, and if pack and portion size changes might be appropriate methods to reduce obesity and food waste.
  • geographic, sub population, and historic insights into current food and dietary trends
  • examining the world leading 30+ British Cohort surveys, to see what dietary and sustainability insights that can be drawn from this underused resource.

Several of the British Cohort surveys can be accessed from the UK Data Service:

I plan to use my UKDS Data Impact Fellowship funding to host workshops, presentations, and hack nights using UK Data Service data related to diet, food and sustainability.

Follow Christian on Twitter: @Sartorialfoodie

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