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.

Nora Abushaaban, Student Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Environmental Economics and Policy. Nora Abushaaban is a third-year undergraduate student who has been immersed in social justice work in the Bay Area for much of her life and has recently began 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.

Brooke Barron, Graduate Student Research Assistant

Master’s Student, Public Policy. Brooke Barron is passionate about making the food system work better. Prior to moving to Berkeley, Brooke worked in sustainable agriculture policy in Congress and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As the agriculture policy advisor to U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Brooke fought for stronger funding for sustainable agriculture in the annual appropriations bills and wrote the Food Recovery Act of 2015, the first comprehensive legislation tackling the issue of food waste in America. Brooke previously served as Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan, where they focused on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, bringing federal resources together to strengthen the connection between farmers and consumers and expand access to healthy food in low-income communities. Brooke also served in the White House as the Associate Director of Administration for Vice President Joe Biden and as a policy consultant for clients including New England Farmers Union, Global Justice Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

Tyler Brewington, Campus Food Equity and Inclusion Policy Fellow

Master’s Student, Public Health in Health and Social Behavior. Tyler Brewington is a second year graduate student from Los Angeles, CA. She is currently writing her capstone thesis on the intersections of race, place, urban gardening, and health equity. Tyler holds a B.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy with a minor in Spanish Literary Studies from Occidental College. Tyler is passionate about food security through a health and racial equity lens. Her passion for food security developed during her 27 month Peace Corps service in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. This passion was deepened through volunteering at Edible Schoolyard and working with elementary school children at the Food Education Project in San Francisco. She was drawn to the Berkeley Food Institute because of the organization’s values of diversity, inclusion, and health as a social justice issue. Tyler is the 2018 Campus Food Equity and Inclusion Policy Fellow and will work with BFI staff to draft policy recommendations for key stakeholders based on findings from the UC Berkeley Food Landscape Map. Tyler will also be participating on the Nutrition Policy Advisory Committee to support and guide implementation of the aforementioned policies.

Jeffrey Chiu, Food Recovery Coordinator

Undergraduate Student, Business Administration. Jeffrey, originally from San Jose, CA, is a junior at UC Berkeley studying Business Administration. He is grateful for UC Berkeley and the Basic Needs community. He understands that what most people take for granted, others are praying for. He strives to better himself and the community around him. His commitment to Basic Needs exemplifies the words of Will Smith, “I want the world to be better because I was here.”

Mackenzie Feldman, UC Global Food Initiative Student Ambassador

Undergraduate Student, Society and Environment. Mackenzie Feldman is a 4th year undergraduate student from Honolulu, Hawaii. She is passionate about many aspects of the food system, including food policy, sustainable agriculture, and issues involving labor rights and the corporate control of the food system. At UC Berkeley, Mackenzie competes on the Beach Volleyball team, teaches an Entrepreneurship Speaker Series class at the Haas School of Business, is one of the founders of the SOCLA-NA Berkeley Chapter, and is a member of the education committee at the Berkeley Student Food Collective. She interns at Real Food Media in Oakland, and her previous experience includes interning at Oahu Fresh, which connects with local farms to provide a CSA in her hometown. She is currently working on a campaign to ban the use of herbicides on the UC Berkeley campus. Mackenzie brings her passion to improve the food system as well as her experience of seeing corporate control of the food system firsthand in her community. As the UC Global Food Initiative Student Ambassador, Mackenzie serves as the GFI student engagement go‐to person for UC Berkeley.

Ben Kane, Policy Assistant

Master’s Student, Public Policy. Ben Kane is a first-year graduate student at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy originally from Orange County, California. Before moving to Berkeley, Ben worked for US Congressman Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, CA as a principal advisor on foreign affairs, healthcare, transportation, trade, immigration, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues, and human rights. As a descendant of Vietnamese refugees, Ben is passionate about equity, history, and racial justice. At the Goldman School of Public Policy, Ben is working to advance his interest in access and affordability in health policy. He is excited to join the Berkeley Food Institute team as Policy Assistant supporting BFI’s policy program and hopes to gain insight on the intersection of food and health. Ben graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts with a degree in History and Political Science.

Justin Loew, Gleaning Coordinator

Undergraduate Student, American Studies. I am a 4th year majoring in American Studies with an emphasis in Sustainable Food Systems. I work as a Peer Academic Counselor with the Educational Opportunities and Undocumented Student Programs, and I also serve as the Gleaning Coordinator for the Basic Needs Security Committee. I was born and raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles, with three older brothers and two sisters. 7 nieces and nephews (and counting…) I enjoy playing video games and watching sports in my free time. I’ve recently gained a new appreciation for physical and mental healing that incorporate mindful practice such as meditation and yoga. For my next chapter in life, I am excited to say I will be studying abroad in back-to-back programs in Chile and Barbados, respectively. Until we meet, spreading love and positive energy to all.

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. More specifically, she is interested in the ethics of our food systems, food access and equity, and labor rights for food workers. 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.

Annie Lu, Communications Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Environmental Economics and Policy with a minor in Food Systems. Annie Lu is a fourth year student and has been an avid foodie and environmentalist her whole life, but pursuance of the Food Systems minor allowed her to draw a clear connection between her passions. Academically, Annie enjoys exploring the interactions between the social, political, and natural dimensions of such issues as food access, food business and policy, changing ecosystem dynamics, and cultural food histories. She is excited to be on board with BFI, and hopes to contribute towards the organization’s mission to engage the campus and empower leaders in food systems reform.

Shazia Manji, Policy Assistant

Master’s Student, Public Health and City Planning. Shazia Manji is a first-year graduate student in the School of Public Health and College of Environmental Design. Prior to returning to school, Shazia worked as the Membership & Communications Coordinator for Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, helping to organize health professionals to advocate for equity in our public health and environmental policies. She also previously completed a fellowship with the Women’s Policy Institute, where she worked to develop state legislation to increase access to healthy foods for low-income Californians with special dietary needs. As a student of public health and urban planning, Shazia is interested in the relationship between race, place, and health outcomes, and hopes to advance racial justice through community-driven research and policy. She is excited to join the Berkeley Food Institute to learn more about the economic, labor rights, and social policy aspects of our food systems. Shazia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with minors in Visual Art and Public Service from UC San Diego.

Will Payne, Equity and Inclusion Foodscape Mapping Fellow

PhD Student, Geography, with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. Will is a fourth-year doctoral student whose dissertation research focuses on the connections between contemporary “foodie” culture and processes of urban real estate accumulation, as mediated through crowdsourced digital location-based services like Yelp, Foursquare, Google Local, and TripAdvisor. Will has studied, taught, and reported on a wide variety of issues related to food production, culture, policy, and social justice. Before beginning his doctoral research, he graduated with honors in History and Literature from Harvard College, and worked in documentary film production for television and web outlets, producing video pieces on food justice, urban beekeeping, and other topics. Will also hosted a local radio show and podcast in San Francisco, Sound Bites, interviewing local food and beverage producers and discussing the culture, politics, and ethics of gourmet consumption. Over the course of the fall semester, he will use his experience in web mapping and data visualization to help the project leadership team and student researchers expand and improve the interactive UC Berkeley Food Landscape Map.

Ibrahim Ramoul Menendez, Gardens Basic Needs Student Coordinator

Undergraduate Student, Public Health with a minor in Anthropology. A third 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.

Maria Balcazar Tellez, UC Global Food Initiative Basic Needs Fellow

Master’s Student, Public Policy. Maria is from Caracas, Venezuela. She is passionate about asking questions, especially those that help her better understand agri-food systems as they relate to human health, food access, and technology. She holds a dual-degree from Pennsylvania State University in Philosophy and Biological & Agricultural Engineering. She recently completed a Master of Science from North Carolina State University, where she focused on understanding which national factors—such as local resources, political and economic capital, inequality, and technology—affect food security and environmental degradation. She has worked to support immigrant farmworkers and to teach Cooking Matters culinary classes to help low-income families with cooking healthy on a budget. She hopes to continue to navigate the complexity of food security issues, and to use her knowledge and experience to design effective and responsible policies that build inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food systems. As the UC Global Food Initiative Basic Needs Fellow, Maria will work on two efforts: (i) lead the publication of the 2017-2018 UC Berkeley Basic Needs Campus Report and (ii) serve as UC Berkeley’s student representative in the UC System Basic Needs Committee.

Katelynd Todd, UC Global Food Initiative Nutrition Policy and Food Environment Fellow

Master’s Student, Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, with an emphasis in Public Health Nutrition. Katelynd is a first-generation student from Jacksonville, Florida. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Behavior from the University of Florida, where she graduated with honors. She is passionate about data-driven policy to promote environments conducive to positive health behaviors, regardless of access to resources and education growing up. She believes that positive food environments can be developed as the primary prevention method for many diseases. Katelynd enjoys studying causal inference and statistical mechanisms to find where, how and when diseases—especially obesity, heart disease, and other food-related diseases—will occur. As the Nutrition Policy and Food Environment Fellow, Katelynd will work closely with the UC Berkeley Nutrition Policy Advisory Committee members and University Health Services to support the implementation, communication, and evaluation plans for the new Food and Beverage Choices policy. This policy establishes nutrition standards to ensure that healthy food and beverage choices are available at on-campus retail foodservice and markets, vending machines, athletic concessions, and University-sponsored meetings and events. The overarching goals are to improve accessibility of whole and fresh foods, provide healthier alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages, and engage positive communications promoting healthier choices.

Jesse Williamson, Graduate Student Researcher for Food Systems Certificate and Evaluation

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.

Marissa York, Campus Kitchen Advocate

Undergraduate Student, Preventative Health in Modern America (Interdisciplinary Studies). Marissa is originally from the San Fernando Valley. Basic needs are important to her because having them met is the epicenter of proactive healthcare and societal welfare. In her non-school occupied time, she likes dancing freely and spending to much time preparing food.