Student Fellows

BFI supports student fellows across disciplines to research pressing policy issues and undertake community engagement projects. BFI also convenes the UC Global Food Initiative Student Fellows. Any open calls for student fellowships are listed here.

BFI Student Advisory Councils

A volunteer Undergraduate Council and Graduate Council help inform the Berkeley Food Institute’s work by giving vital guidance on our student-related programs and support. The chair of each advisory council serves on the BFI Executive Committee. As a Berkeley student, we invite you to join a council! Please contact the current chairs.

Graduate Council Members:

  • Maria Balcazar, Meeting Secretary
  • Leah Jennings, Outreach Coordinator
  • Emily Kearney, Executive Committee Member Representative
  • Margiana Petersen-Rockney, Executive Committee Member Alternate
  • Laney Siegner, Executive Committee Member Alternate
  • Jessamyn Wead, Meeting Chair

Undergraduate Council Members:

  • Dani Solis, Chair and Executive Committee Member Representative
  • Lucinda Laurence

Student Fellows

Nora Abushaaban, Student Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Environmental Economics and Policy. Nora Abushaaban is a fourth-year undergraduate student who has been immersed in social justice work in the Bay Area for much of her life and has recently begun exploring and understanding the interconnected nature of environmentalism in regards to its social and economic benefits. Nora has also worked with refugees abroad in Jordan and has developed a wider view of the struggles people face on a daily basis in regards to access to basic needs such as food and clean water. She hopes to assist in the creation of projects that not only provide a more sustainable alternative to some of the current systems we have in place, but also to create jobs that can alleviate populations from poverty. Nora is really excited to be on the BFI team and can’t wait to learn how to empower herself and others to cultivate a healthier and equitable society for all.

Alexandra Barr, Foodscape Mapping Project Research Fellow

Undergraduate Student, Political Science, Society and Environment. Alexandra Barr is a 3rd year undergraduate student from Los Angeles, California. She is passionate about environmental policy, specifically around environmental justice issues. Her passion for food insecurity advocacy led her to become the President of the UC Berkeley Challah for Hunger, a non-profit that raises awareness about food insecurity. In this role last year, she supervised fundraising for the UC Berkeley Food Pantry and food justice organization MAZON, as well as planned educational events to combat food insecurity. Alexandra embraces her communication skills as the President of a club called BridgeUSA, which works to bridge the political divide and foster dialogue across the political spectrum through responsible discourse, true diversity of ideas, and the creation of listening spaces. She wants to continue to utilize her empathetic listening skills interacting across diverse groups who have been historically marginalized in food-related areas. Alexandra is enthusiastic to be on board with BFI hoping to influence the empowerment of campus leaders in food systems reform.

Fabiha Fairooz, Gardens Student Coordinator

Undergraduate Student, Landscape Architecture. Fabiha Fairooz is a fourth-year Landscape Architecture student from Lusaka, Zambia with the intersection of design, nature and city core to her studies. She is interested in how urban farms and gardens can be used to both ameliorate food insecurity and stimulate an amplified sense of community. Fabiha is keen to share her love for plants and the richness of the California landscape as the Gardens Student Coordinator. In her spare time, she enjoys all things creative including painting, crafting and collaging. As part of the BFI team, she is excited to exercise her creativity and horticultural skills to create amiable and equitable spaces.

Zachary Fernandez, UC Global Food Initiative Nutrition Policy Fellow

Master’s Student, Public Health Nutrition. Zach is a second-year master’s student in the School of Public Health. A Bay Area native and longtime Berkeley resident, his passion lies in making healthful foods more accessible and affordable for underserved populations. He believes strongly in the power of policy to improve food environments and promote health equity. To this end, Zach has worked with the Oakland Food Policy Council on a variety of food justice issues and was an ardent advocate in the Oakland soda tax campaign.

Cheuk Hang Fok, Gardens Outreach and Equity Fellow

Undergraduate Student, Social Welfare with minors in Education and Ethnic Studies. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the Bay, Cheuk (she/they) is a proud first-generation, low-income, immigrant student. Throughout her college career, she has dedicated her time to advocating for underrepresented communities. In the future, she wants to continue to do the same through a career in social work. In her free time, Cheuk loves to cook new dishes and play video games, so if you have any recipes to share or games to recommend, let her know!

Isa Gaillard, Campus Food Equity and Inclusion Policy Fellow and Land Use Working Group Coordinator

Master’s Student, City Planning. A first-year graduate student in the College of Environmental Design, Isa is concentrating in Environmental Planning and Healthy Cities. Prior to moving to Berkeley, Isa studied public policy at the University of Michigan and worked with Native American communities across the state, developing an interest in indigenous perspectives and practices in relation to sustainability. Upon moving to the Bay Area, Isa completed a one-year environmental justice fellowship at the Center for Environmental Health based out of Oakland. He then worked on regional transportation issues and safe routes to schools programs at TransForm, a transportation planning and land-use management non-profit. Isa is passionate about addressing the fact that pollution, climate change, and urbanization disproportionately harm certain communities. He sees cities as living and breathing ecosystems, where there are infinite opportunities to strengthen the connections between the seemingly disparate elements that make up our neighborhoods. In his free time, Isa enjoys playing soccer and basketball, meditating, and cooking.


Aidee Guzman, UC Global Food Initiative Soil Health Fellow

PhD Student, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Aidee Guzman is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Having deep family roots in agriculture, she is compelled to understand the socio-ecological linkages of diversified farming systems. Her research builds on the knowledge produced in ecology, soil microbiology, pollination biology, and sociology of agriculture. For her dissertation, she is working with small-scale farmers embedded in the monoculture landscape of California’s Central Valley. Her research explores how on-farm diversification practices impact soil health and link to other ecological processes (i.e. pollination) on agroecosystems. Specifically, she is looking at how on-farm diversification (i.e. crop diversity over space and time) influence arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), pollination, and their interactions. Throughout her research, she aims to integrate social and ecological research approaches to support farmers, rural livelihoods, and ecological resilience.


Joyce Lee, Campus Food Equity and Inclusion Policy Fellow

Master’s Student, Public Health in Public Health Nutrition. Joyce Minghui Lee is a second-year graduate student and first-generation student from Los Angeles, CA. Her research and professional interests apply the social determinants of health framework to understanding and improving food access equity. In Summer 2018, she worked with the Nutrition Policy Institute to evaluate the impact of California’s Market Match, a financial incentive program at farmer’s markets that aims to increase access to healthy food to SNAP recipients. Joyce also sits as an active Board member to several campus organizations that focus on professional development, identity, and/or community building, including the Student Collaborative for Impact Leadership, Asian & Pacific Islander’s Women Circle, and Public Health Alumni Association.

Selena Melgoza, Foodscape Mapping Project Research Fellow

Undergraduate Student, Society and Environment. Selena Melgoza is a first-generation student in her second year as an undergrad. She is deeply passionate about the environment which is why she is choosing to learn about environmental policy and management. With her passion, on campus she is in ASUC Steam and works with student organizations to make zero waste goals as a way to help students become more aware of environmental issues and solutions. Selena’s appreciation of food stems from her Mother’s delicious Mexican dishes and here on campus, she aims to help students identify where they can have access to food support systems. Within BFI, Selena is excited to learn about inclusion and equity and spread the knowledge gained with the Berkeley campus.

Carolina Mundo, Policy Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Spanish with a double minor in Global Public Health and Public Policy. Carolina was born and raised in San Luis Río Colorado Sonora, México and moved to Salinas, California, otherwise known as the “Salad Bowl of the World.” Living there sparked an interest in her to pursue a career that will help ensure the safety of farm workers and members of the community from pesticide exposure along with food security. She is really excited to be part of the Berkeley Food Institute team and hopes to learn as much as possible as the Policy Assistant.

Lindsey Pfeiffer, Communications Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Environmental Economics and Policy. Lindsey Pfeiffer is a third-year undergraduate student from Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about the intersection of sustainability and food systems and how to effectively communicate progress and innovation within them, and is excited to share the mission of BFI throughout the surrounding communities. Her interest in sustainability led to her role as the External Vice President for the Association for Socially Responsible Business, an on-campus organization promoting sustainable and equitable business practices. She also serves as the Communications Assistant for the College of Natural Resources, where she promotes advancements and opportunities within the academic environmental community in Berkeley. In her free time, she enjoys baking vegan desserts, hiking throughout the Bay Area, and practicing her photography.

Ibrahim Ramoul Menendez, Gardens Basic Needs Student Coordinator

Undergraduate Student, Public Health with a minor in Anthropology. A fourth year Berkeley student raised as a third-culture kid, Ibrahim Ramoul Menendez had the privilege of traveling the world and living in many rad countries. Growing up, he was able to experience a variety of different food systems and cultures, and observe the intimate relationships between these and environmental and community health. Working at the BFI allows him to bring together his passion for healthcare, for learning new things, and for engaging meaningfully with a community that he is proud to consider one of his many homes. Ibrahim is excited to be on Team BFI and hopes that he can add his voice to the ever-growing, and ever-important, conversation about all things food.

Coleman Rainey, Land Use Working Group Coordinator

PhD Student, Materials Science and Engineering. Cole is a graduate student studying agroecology, soil ecology, and urban agricultural systems in the lab of Tim Bowles. He fell in love with the lands that surround Berkeley’s campus while plunging his hands into the alluvial muck and planting lettuce at the Gill Tract. He loves singing, soil chemistry, crystals, vegetables, and believes in the reciprocal power of healing on and with the land. He is excited to be organizing the Land Use Working Group as an instrument for student empowerment, equity, wellness, and experiential learning on Berkeley’s campus.

Daniela Solis, UC Global Food Initiative Student Ambassador

Undergraduate, Urban Studies with a Food Systems Minor. Dani Solis is a fourth-year undergraduate student fascinated by the power of place in our food system. Her background in Urban Studies has shaped her interest in the role of institutions and social organizing in changing food systems, while her lived experience continues to drive her passion to cultivate empathy and love within them. Dani has served as a Food Systems Minor representative for the past two years and is excited to help produce a 2-year report of the minor. For her senior thesis, she will also be co-authoring a manuscript that analyzes the role of agricultural education at UC Berkeley. As BFI’s student ambassador, you’ll most likely find Dani in the BFI office listening to her favorite Australian neo-soul band, Hiatus Kaiyote—or catching a tan tabling on Sproul.

Jesse Williamson, Transforming Food Systems Graduate Student Instructor

PhD Candidate, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Born and raised in Berkeley, Jesse’s background includes undergraduate degrees in African American Studies and Human Biodynamics (UC Berkeley), a master’s degree in city planning (MIT), and ten years teaching high school math and science. During his time in ESPM, Jesse has been a GSI for classes in Environmental Justice, Environmental Economics, and Bioethics, and active in the Graduate Diversity Council. His current research examines the material flows and social relations in East Bay urban agriculture though the lenses of industrial ecology, political economy, and critical race theory, with a goal of working towards sustainable and just metropolitan areas. In his free time, Jesse enjoys biking, gardening, gaming, training in martial arts, pondering the technological singularity, and anticipating the worker’s revolution.

Emily Yan, Communications Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Environmental Science and Environmental Economics and Policy. Emily is a fourth year student from sunny Los Angeles, pursuing her passion for the environment and sustainable food systems. Her interest in food systems stemmed from her love of food and eating growing up. Emily is excited to be working with the Communications team, and she hopes that her work at BFI will contribute to the organization’s goals and motivate others to learn more about our food systems. When she’s not working on communications for BFI, you can find her at Berkeley Bowl amongst the amazing produce sections, being a frantic plant mother, and chasing cute corgis on the street!