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About me

Serena is a Lecturer in Economics and International Development at the University of Westminster's School of Organisations, Economy and Society. Before joining the University of Westminster, she held a post-doctoral position at the University of Oxford's Department for International Development, where she was involved in a EU FP7-funded project seeking to investigate the impact of Foreign Direct Investment on local labour markets in Ghana. Serena obtained her PhD and MSc from the University of Manchester and her BA from the University Federico II (Naples, Italy). She also has held research consultancy roles with Oxford Policy Management and a number of United Nations' organisations, including UNU-WIDER, the World Food Programme, and UNDP.

Her field of research is in the political economy of development, with her most recent research involvement in global health policy looking at the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis in Italy. Before that, Serena worked on health policy reform and governance in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. She also works on inequality, informal labour, and foreign direct investment inflows in low-income and emerging countries.

Funding Received

£10,000 GCRF funding (internal) for the project: 'Indigenous Medicine and Biomedical Health Care in Fragile Settings: Governance roadblocks to reform in Burundi'.

PhD Supervision

Serena welcomes PhD proposals in the following research areas:

i) Globalisation, transnational investment, informal sector, employment conditions, knowledge transfer

ii) Health systems integration and health policy reform in the Global South

PhD Students

Director of Studies

Sabine Franklin (completed): The 2014 Ebola Epidemic in West Africa and The Role of Traditional Institutions in Managing the Crisis

Jiandan Li (1st year): Chinese FDI in Europe, What Impact on Trade and Labour Markets? A case study of the Piraeus Port acquisition in Greece

Lady Asafu-Adjaye (September 2020): Informality and Social Policy in Ghana


Olga Artsiuk (1st year): The role of International Trade in Services in sustainable development and growth.


'Development Economics and Policy' (MSc and MA in International Development Management) 

Other teaching duties on a number of economics and development modules, at both postgraduate and undergraduate level.

Since 2018, I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


(I) Publications

Indigenous Medicine and Biomedical Health Care in Fragile Settings: Insights from Burundi’ (2018), with J.-B. Falisse and R. Ngenzebuhoro. Health Policy and Planning 2018: 1-11.

'Improving Financial Inclusion through the delivery of cash transfer programmes: The Case of Mexico’s Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera Programme’ (2018)with M. Niño-Zarazúa. Journal of Development Studies, DOI:10.1080/00220388.2018.1546845

‘What works to improve the quality of student learning in developing countries?’ (2016), with M. Niño-Zarazúa, International Journal of Educational Development, 48:53-65.

'Macroeconomic Volatility, Institutional Instability, and the Incentive to Innovate’ (2015), Review of Development Economics 19(1): 116-131.

(II) Media

Latest on Coronavirus’ live interview on BBC World News TV (20th March 2020)

Italy’s fight against Covid-19 depends on continued solidarity’ in Open Democracy with L. Enria (20th March 2020)

Southern Italy braces for 'tsunami' of coronavirus cases’ interview in The Guardian (19th March 2020)

Why indigenous medicine could play a role in rebuilding health systems’ with J.-B. Falisse in The Conversation (19th June 2018).

(III) Work in Progress

  •  II.1 Global Health Policy

'‘The COVID19 Emergency in Italy: socio-economic impacts and beyond’ - with L. Enria.'

'Indigenous Medicine and Biomedical Health Care in Fragile Settings: Governance roadblocks to reform in Burundi' - GCRF funded research with J.-B. Falisse and R. Ngenzebuhoro.

  • II.2 Globalisation, inequality and labour informality

'The winners and winners of globalisation, but who is winning more? – A case study of the Construction Industry in Accra, Ghana', with M. Akuffobea and N. Von Jacobi.

(IV) Policy Reports

‘Social Considerations in the COVID19 Emergency in Italy’ - with L. Enria.

'MNEs, Local Capability Building, and Development: Chinese and European MNEs in Ghana' (2016) [download] - with Fu, X., Essegbey, G., Frempong, G., Hou, J., and Akuffobea, M., University of Oxford, TMCD Working Paper TMD-WP-74 


For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.