Ellen Messer
Visiting Faculty

  • Visiting Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy

Ellen Messer is a biocultural anthropologist specializing in food, security, religion, and human rights.  She has taught anthropology of food, health, religion, human rights, and international development at George Washington University, Brandeis University, Tufts University, Brown University, Wheaton College, and Yale University. Trained in ecological anthropology and anthropological approaches to religion, her ethnographic research publications address ethnotanical and cosmological dimensions of agriculture, livelihoods, diet, and women’s household activity profiles in small-scale community settings in Latin America.  From 1987-1999 she was core faculty, then Director, of the Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Program at Brown University.  There, her research, writing, and outreach addressed the potential impacts of emergent agricultural biotechnologies in the developing world, and also, fundamental issues of hunger and human rights, particularly in conflict situations.  In the 2000s, she continues to update “food-systems” perspectives on agricultural biotechnologies, and the evolving cultural political roles of non-governmental organizations that fight hunger and promote human rights in the U.S. and the world. 


  • Ph.D., 1975, Anthropology, University of Michigan
  • M.A., 1971, Anthropology, University of Michigan
  • B.A., 1970, Anthropology, Harvard University
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