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Charlotte Milbank

Interdisciplinary PhD student, Epidemiology & Geography

Wild Foods, Sustainable Food Security and Health

My research examines whether “wild foods”, including bushmeat, insects, wild fruits and vegetables, can contribute safely to food and nutritional security and human health in rural communities, whilst supporting conservation efforts. Based in the tribal districts of North Eastern India, this research speaks to the concerns of the “One Health” research approach, a growing body of work that recognises the complex entanglement of the environment, human and animal health in issues of public health concern, including zoonotic spillover. My PhD is jointly supervised by academics in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Geography.



  • March 2021-September 2021: Fellowship at the Indigenous Peoples’ Unit, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
  • October 2019-present: PhD Student in Epidemiology and Geography, University of Cambridge.
  • October 2018-September 2019: MPhil Epidemiology, University of Cambridge.
  • July 2018: Research Intern, University of Cambridge Conservation Institute.
  • August 2017: Field assistant, University of Cambridge Department of Zoology.
  • October 2015-June 2018: BA Cambridge, University of Cambridge.


  • PhD Candidate, Jesus College, University of Cambridge, October 2019-present
  • MPhil Epidemiology (Distinction) , Darwin College, University of Cambridge, October 2018-September 2019
  • BA Geography (First class thesis), Girton College, University of Cambridge, October 2015-June 2018.

Awards and scholarships

  • ESRC DTP Studentship. 2018-2023.
  • William Vaughan Lewis Prize, 2018, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.
  • Girton College Travel Award, 2018, Girton College, University of Cambridge, for pilot PhD research in Kilifi, Kenya.
  • Jean Grove Fund, 2018, Girton College, University of Cambridge for dissertation research.
  • Emily Davies Scholarship and Margaret Anderson Prize, 2016. Girton College, University of Cambridge.



  • Milbank, C. and Vira, B. (2022).Wildmeat consumption and zoonotic spillover: contextualising disease emergence and policy responses. The Lancet Planetary Health. Online at:
  • Milbank, C., Drumright, L., and Lester, J. (in press). Working title: Elucidating risk factors for healthcare associated norovirus infection.
  • Milbank, C., Burlingame, B., Hunter, D., et al. (2021) Rethinking hierarchies of evidence for sustainable food systems. Nature Food 2, 843–845. Published as the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems (hosted by FAO). Online at:
  • Milbank, C., Coomes, D., and Vira, B. (2018). Assessing the Progress of REDD+ Projects towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Forests, 9(10), 589. Online at:
  • Cox, S., Payne, C., Badolo, A., Attenborough, R., and Milbank, C. (2018). The nutritional role of insects as food: A case study of ‘chitoumou’ (Cirina butyrospermi), an edible caterpillar in rural Burkina Faso. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed. Online at:
  • Payne, C., Cox, S., Milbank, C., Badolo, A., Dobermann, D. What is the nutritional role of edible insects in human diets? Keynote address, Insects to Feed the World Second Conference, Wuhan, China 2018. Invited paper, Journal of Insects as Food and Feed.
  • Payne, C., Badolo, A., Cox, S., Sagnon, B., Dobermann, D., Milbank, C., Scarborough, P., Sanon, A., Bationo, F., Balmford, A. (in press). Working title: The contribution of ‘chitoumou’, the edible caterpillar Cirina butyrospermi, to the food security of smallholder farmers in southwestern Burkina Faso. Food Security.

Other academic writing

Conference presentations

  • ‘”Wild foods” for nutrition security’. Oral presentation and poster at the ‘Interdisciplinarity – Beyond Boundaries’ conference of the Economic and Social Research Council, October 2019, Cambridge, UK.
  • ‘Wild Foods, Hunger and Nutrition – harnessing knowledge for sustainable food security’. Oral presentation and poster at the ‘Future of Conservation’ conference of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, September 2019, Cambridge, UK.
  • ‘Wild foods: consumption practices and knowledge systems in rural Burkina Faso’. Poster presented at the Cambridge Global Food Security Annual Symposium, March 2019, Cambridge, UK.