2014/15 UC Global Food Student Fellowships

UC President Napolitano has created a student fellowship program to fund three undergraduate or graduate projects on each campus to work on research projects or internships related to the UC Global Food Initiative.

This student fellowship program provides $2,500 awards to each project.

In response to a strong applicant pool, UROP and the Sustainability Initiative have supplemented the fund in order to award five UCI fellowships.

Learn about the UCI projects:

  • Inclusive Food Systems: Immigrants, Indigeneity and Innovation
  • Local Food Access and Advocacy: Cultivating Town and Gown Synergies
  • Grow Your Own Food Campaign
  • Food Pantry Initiative
  • Modeling the Environmental Impact of Agricultural Systems
Fellow: VIctoria Lowerson-Bredow

Fellow: VIctoria Lowerson-Bredow

Inclusive Food Systems: Immigrants, Indigeneity and Innovation

This project aims to spark and extend conversations in Orange County around how to build a more sustainable and equitable food system that includes and recognizes the contributions of ethnic and racial diversity and indigenous and immigrant communities. The extant research and practice on food systems suggest concepts such as food deserts, food apartheid, and food sovereignty. How these concepts play out in the everyday lives of communities, particularly indigenous and immigrant, is often in ways that polarize, segregating people, places and their practices.

Historically, food has brought people together around tables, gardens, and celebrations but food has also created conflict often due to its scarcity or poor quality. Food and food traditions are ways that culture is created and preserved, so a loss of food traditions threatens cultural roots of people and places. Recent attention to creating sustainable and equitable food systems affords opportunities for the inclusion of indigenous and immigrant communities and their knowledge.

 This project aims to:

  1. Conduct an assessment of existing research and practices being done on sustainable and equitable food systems (e.g. courses, studies, conferences, programs etc.)
  2. To convene cross-sector dialogue about food representations and their utility as a lens for understanding how immigrant and racial minorities make, understand, interpret, and express their lived experiences. Special attention will be given to examining the connection(s) between food representations in immigrant/ethnic/racial minority communities and efforts to promote a sustainable food movement in Orange County, and beyond that is inclusive and equitable.
  3. To forge increased understanding, communication, and collaboration between sustainable food advocates and like-minded representatives from immigrant and minority communities.

Convening and facilitation activities between January and June 2015 will help will help co-create an understanding of common concerns and issues as well as shape a planning process that will inform and influence a proposal for a 2015 conference on sustainability, equity, food and emerging communities.

Primary Fellow: Sally Gielsar Additional Fellows: Harya "Koko" Dillon Paul Caporaso Sam Sharvini Kathy Hanna Bailey Kinsolving

Primary Fellow: Sally Gielsar
Additional Fellows:
Harya “Koko” Dillon
Paul Caporaso
Sam Sharvini
Kathy Hanna
Bailey Kinsolving

Local Food Access and Advocacy: Cultivating Town and Gown Synergies

The Saturday Farmers’ Market adjacent to UCI has served the university and surrounding community for 20 years as one of the most successful Certified Farmers’ Markets in the county. Despite its long-standing success, the relocation of this popular market is now inevitable; its
new location, uncertain. Preserving proximity to the university is crucial to overcome mobility barriers faced by many students and to ensure access to local food for all students. This project will help preserve and increase the unique synergy between “town and gown” that flourishes at this market by providing advocacy-scholarship to aid negotiations to house the market on campus grounds. The project has three goals: (1) Understand market-goer needs and engage 100 students with the Farmer’s Market through experiential learning and social diffusion; (2) Host a Public Forum with decision-makers where the community can be incorporated as a stakeholder; and (3) Empower 25 students as advocate-scholars in a workshop with local food access leaders in activism, academics, business, and government.



Primary Fellow: Crystal Hickerson

Primary Fellow: Crystal Hickerson

Grow Your Own Food Campaign

Our objective is to change attitudes and practices towards food production and disposal by organizing a set of visual and social cues to normalize sustainable practices as part of everyday life in our community. Growing your own food will become less a hobby and more an everyday practice as we expand experiential learning through a series of mini-projects: (1) Three Everyday Food Sustainability Events to encourage social-learning: a potted plant give-away and challenge, a compost exploration day, and a potluck/awards event) (2) the creation of 2 types of demonstration projects: vermi-composting, and edible potted plants in high-visibility locations across the community, (3) modifying operational pest control and soil amendment policies and procedures to 100% non-toxic, (4) expanding existing food-scrap recovery and orchard infrastructure collaborating with community leaders who have been instrumental in these projects. (5) Developing best practices for non-toxic policies and procedures, food-scrap recovery systems, and orchard development The campaign series of mini-projects will encourage 50% more residents to grow some of their own food, double the current food scrap landfill diversion rate, set non-toxic policy standards in maintenance, and raise awareness about local food.

Primary Fellow: Alexander Fung Additional Fellows: Jennifer Lima Jessica Figueroa

Primary Fellow: Alexander Fung
Additional Fellows:
Jennifer Lima
Jessica Figueroa

Food Pantry Initiative

The overall purpose is to first of all be able to establish a food pantry at the SOAR Center. We want to meet the food insecurity that students at UC Irvine have on campus on a daily basis by providing them with easy-to-access food at a center that welcomes students to redefine the stigma of receiving free food. Food is a basic need that everyone, students or not, should have the right to have in order to succeed. This food pantry will be supplied by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County that is located in Irvine, CA, around 8 miles away from our campus at UC Irvine. The SOAR food pantry will be open for the 34 academic weeks during the academic year, with two operating days each academic week, or 68 operating days within one academic year.




Fellow: Ankita Raturi

Fellow: Ankita Raturi

Modeling the Environmental Impact of Agricultural Systems

Agricultural systems are becoming more complicated and complex. As the environmental impacts of such systems increases, researchers have begun to model them to find ways to optimize resource flows and reduce negative impacts. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique to create the resource footprint of human-made systems and is often applied to agricultural systems to compare different cultivation methods (e.g. organic vs hydroponic). However it is a time consuming and expensive venture to create LCA models, particularly as they represent a single snapshot in time of the performance of a system. We aim to develop a software solution: The Open Resource Tracker (ORT). The goal is to connect LCA models to understand how resources flow both within and between food systems. This software can theoretically be used with resource-consuming system; farms, restaurants, factories, etc. While the primary audience for this tool involved in the environmental assessment of food systems; farmers, analysts and governments, there will be a consumer facing interface of the ORT. As we are connecting environmental footprints of different systems, we can trace the origins of the products and services we consume. The ORT would provide also data to improve efforts by producers to communicate their green habits to consumers (e.g. green labels).