Student Staff

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 student positions are posted on our Jobs and Resources page.
Headshot of Irene Farah

Irene Farah, Graduate Student Fellow

PhD Student, City & Regional Planning. Irene is a third year PhD student from Mexico City. Her current research lies in the intersection of labor and food justice. In particular, she studies street vendors’ use of public space in the global south and how their spatial and political organization impacts their access to healthy food. Through the BFI Graduate Student Fellowship, Irene endeavors to bridge academic disciplines and create spaces which promote transformative food systems and more equitable societies. Outside of work, Irene is passionate about music, exploring cities by bike, and swimming in open waters.

Christine Haggin, Urban Agriculture Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Society and Environment and Art History. Christine is a fourth-year undergraduate student from the East Bay, CA. Although they grew up in the Bay Area and have always had a connection to the land, Christine became deeply invested in agriculture and food systems after working as a farmer within Berkeley Student Farms, a coalition of garden spaces within the Berkeley community. They are interested in the intersections between art and the environment, and are interested in exploring ways to use art as a tool for community care and to promote food justice and land sovereignty. Outside of their work within agriculture and BFI, Christine is a photographer, dancer, and loves trying new vegan recipes!
Photo of Jesús Nazario.

Jesús Nazario, Graduate Student Fellow

PhD Student, Ethnic Studies. Jesús is an incoming PhD student in Ethnic Studies, where he will focus on the intersection of food and Indigenous sovereignty, as well as incorporating memory and archive methods. He is passionate about photography, laughing, research dissemination, and forming foundations of a more food-equitable society. As a recent Master’s of Arts graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, where he focused on maize adoptions by Nahua farmers, he is interested in connecting with Indigenous activists, food scholars, and communities of color to increase access and understanding to heritage and local foods. Outside of BFI, he is involved in community gardening and housing justice projects.

Grace Pan, Student Gardens Finance & Outreach Coordinator

Undergraduate Student, Conservation and Resource Studies (Agricultural Ecosystems and Landscapes). Grace is a fourth-year undergraduate student from Las Vegas, Nevada. She is passionate about connecting people to each other and the environment through food. Her interest in food systems was nurtured as a child around dining tables of home-cooked food and now in the gardens of Berkeley Student Farms. Through BFI, she looks forward to supporting the work of her peers in Berkeley Student Farms community who have been some of the greatest educators she’s met at UC Berkeley. Outside of work, Grace loves cooking, working with children in education, creating art, and developing her plant and insect identification skills.

Justina Robinson, Communications Assistant

Undergraduate Student, Political Science and Anthropology. Justina Robinson is a third year undergraduate student from San Diego, California. Her interest in food systems stems from her communications and policy work with food accessibility within school lunches during Covid-19. She hopes that her communications work will call attention to the impacts of food accessibility and food equity within diverse communities. As the communications assistant, Justina is excited to promote the BFI across all platforms to highlight the amazing work being accomplished to transform food systems. Outside of BFI, she works as a mentor for the public service center or you can find her patiently waiting for her fruits and veggies to harvest.

Sakeenah Shabazz

Sakeenah Shabazz, Policy Assistant

Master’s Student, Goldman School of Public Policy. Sakeenah is a first year Master’s of Public Policy Student. Her interests include food security, food justice, federal nutrition programs, and public benefits administration. As Policy Assistant, she looks forward to working closely with BFI”s Executive Director and policy consultant on a range of topics that will inform BFI’s policy agenda. Originally from San Diego, CA, Sakeenah currently resides in Washington, DC, where she attended Georgetown University and worked for the Congressional Hunger Center and D.C. Hunger Solutions. When she’s not working, you’ll find her biking around DC, running on a trail, on Twitter, or shopping at Trader Joe’s.

Photo of Kevin Tuok.

Kevin Tuok, UC Global Food Initiative Undergraduate Fellow

Undergraduate Student, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Minor Data Science. Kevin Tuok is a fourth-year undergraduate student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His interest in food systems stems from an early love of food and the environment. As a biology major, he is passionate about sustainability and promoting the health of those around him. He’s excited to be working at BFI, and hopes his work to promote sustainable food systems and equitable access to healthy foods will positively impact our community. He plans to pursue a career in research and public health. Outside of BFI, you can find Kevin hiking, cooking, working with Cal’s Model UN organization, or volunteering at the animal shelter.

Photo of Río Vargas.

Río Vargas, Undergraduate Agricultural Labor Research Fellow

Undergraduate Student, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning; Film and Media Studies. Río is a third-year undergraduate student from San Diego, California. Their interest in the culinary arts has been present since they were a child. Upon their arrival at UC Berkeley, Río delved into their passion and learned to connect food to their environment by incorporating landscape architecture into their work. Río is committed to advance food system equity and food accessibility, particularly in low-income communities, communities of color, and the queer community. Outside of their work, Río enjoys rock climbing, cooking, and creating art.