PPI Student Affiliates


Student Affiliates are promising graduate students and young professionals/practitioners being mentored by a member of the Steering Committee. This category was created in response to PPI's desire to mentor and guide new talent in the fields of applied social and natural science.


Belinda Contreras Jaimes (Mexico) is a communications specialist with postgraduate studies in pedagogy and tropical ecology. Working closely with Citllalli López she is currently finishing her Masters thesis, based on an ethnoecological study of handicrafts and their relationship to the environment in a Nahua community in the Sierra de Zongolica, Veracruz, Mexico.  An important aspect of her work relates to the transmission of knowledge and the social application of science and environmental communication. Currently based in Zongolica she is currently collaborating with PPI’s Cultural Landscapes and Traditional Foodways Program in Mexico, working closely with producers, women, youth and children. 


Daisy Irawan (Indonesia) is a food scientist and technologist interested in applied science and promoting food safety and better nutrition and living conditions through the application of appropriate technology in plant science, ethnobotany and plant-based product development.  She is currently working with Patricia Shanley and the Knowledge Exchange Program preparing an  illustrated publication on culturally significant plants of SE Asia. For a selected list of Daisy's Irawan publications click here.





Laura Montesi (Italy, Mexico) is a doctoral student in Social Anthropology at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. Her thesis explores the social representations and lived experiences of type 2 diabetes among the Ikojts indigenous people of Oaxaca, Mexico. Her findings indicate that diabetes is, for the Ikojts, a bodily metaphor through which they express emotional distress, compelling concerns about the structurally violent circumstances that threaten their community, and duress, which characterises much of their daily lives. Her investigation on chronic diseases and medical practices led her to develop an interest in topics such as 'traditional' medical knowledge, local foodways, and cultural and therapeutic landscapes. She has actively collaborated with the community where she has been carrying out fieldwork in projects of culture and language revitalisation, facilitating the production of a number of bilingual (Spanish-Umbeyajts/Huave) didactic materials such as books, CDs, and board games.  For a sample of Laura's written and audiovisual work click here.


Yvonne Scherrer  (Switzerland) is a doctoral student interested in local/indigenous/traditional knowledge, especially that relating to medicinal plants, and its relationship to issues of sustainability. Her interdisciplinary research, grounded in sociology and sustainability sciences, seeks to assist a methodologically and epistemologically more effective, generic conceptualization of local knowledge in order to guide development and conservation initiatives. The aim of her research consists in first elaborating a theoretical basis for a generic conceptualization of local knowledge. In the empirical part, through the use of documentation analysis and qualitative expert interviews, the generic approach will be applied to current conceptualizations and understandings of local knowledge by German and Swiss development organizations working with local medicinal plant knowledge. Her previous research focused on social aspects in the context of land distribution processes related to collaborative forestry management initiatives in the walnut-fruit forests in Southern Kyrgyzstan.This research is supervised by PPI Steering Committee member Dr. Patricia Shanley.