Personal profile


I have worked extensively as a researcher, teacher and advocate in the field of women’s rights, employment and education for over three decades. Starting my career as an activist committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment, my research interests include exploring the gendered changes in land and migration patterns amongst marginalised, rural communities, with a view to achieving livelihood, food and nutrition security, especially in contexts of climatic variability and economic precarity. I have published extensively on these themes in national and international peer-reviewed journals and books. While most of my research is located in South Asia, especially India, I have also worked in Eastern Africa (Kenya and Ethiopia) and Nigeria.


I bring many years’ experience as PI, Co-I and Theme Lead across multi-country, diverse stakeholder partnerships on several research and applied research programmes including on Adaptation to Climate Change in Sem-Arid contexts, Sustainable Food Systems, Coastal Transformations and Fisher Wellbeing, Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture as Green Infrastructure and Migration as Adaptation.


In recognition of my scientific expertise, I currently serve on a number of high-level science advisory panels on food security (EAT-Lancet Commission 2.0; United Nations Food Systems Transformation Coordination Hub; and just completed a 4-year term on High Level Panel of Experts to the Committee on World Food Security), and on scientific research including as a member of the UKRI International Strategic Advisory Group and the UK-CGIAR Science & Impact Advisory Group. As director of the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development, we foster sustainable food systems through transdisciplinary research and innovation for public good, working closely with communities and policy makers globally.


As a teacher, I have helped develop a basic understanding of gender issues amongst both postgraduate and undergraduate students over the last 20 years, supervised to completion over 30 PhD students and mentored several early career researchers, both through research engagement and as editor of an international peer-reviewed journal Compare (2010-2016). I have contributed extensively to the strengthening of research teams, collaborations, and the research environment within UEA through several interventions, including support for UEA’s India Dialogue and the UNESCO Chair in Literacy for social transformation, apart from leading the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development. As the first Director, I am tasked with creating synergies across the natural and social sciences and humanities for excellent research and practice for just, equitable, food secure and sustainable futures.


Please click here to download Nitya's CV

Areas of Expertise

Gender analysis of land and livelihoods; women's organisation and empowerment; literacy and education; gender and public policy; indigenous peoples and social movements; identities and well-being; sociology and anthropology; methodologies of monitoring and evaluation of development initiatives; India; South Asia.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

International Strategic Advisory Group, UKRI International Strategic Advisory Group

15 Oct 202314 Oct 2026

Scientific Advisory Group, UK-CGIAR Scientific Advisory Group

1 Aug 202331 Jul 2026

Scientific Advisory Group, Scientific Advisory Committee, United Nations Food Systems Coordination Hub

15 Oct 202214 Oct 2025

Commissioner, EAT-Lancet Commission 2.0

15 May 202214 May 2025


  • Development Studies (General)
  • Continuing / adult education
  • Social Sciences (General)

Media Expertise

  • Gender politics
  • Climate Change
  • International development

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or