Team

Charisma S. Acey, Faculty Director

Charisma Acey is an Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning and a member of our Executive Committee. Her work focuses on local and regional environmental sustainability, with special attention to poverty reduction, urban governance, connections between food justice and environmental justice, urban agroecology, and access to basic services.

Timothy Bowles, Co-Associate Faculty Director

Timothy Bowles is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology and Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. His research focuses on how increasing reliance on biodiversity can create productive, healthy and resilient agricultural systems, drawing on  agroecology, soil ecology, and biogeochemistry.

Susana Matias, Co-Associate Faculty Director

Susana Matia is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology. Her research concentrates on food security, as well as obesity and diabetes prevention, through nutrition education and behavioral change interventions. Dr. Matias’ research is particularly focused on women, children, and immigrant and farmworker populations.


 

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Francisco Benítez, Project Scientist

Francisco Benítez Altuna was born in Quito, Ecuador, where he earned an engineering degree in agro-industry from the National Polytechnic School and managed the yellow corn value chain at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries. He holds a master’s degrees in agribusiness and rural development from the Georg-August University of Göttingen in Germany and the University of Talca in Chile. He is currently a PhD candidate at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. During his academic career, he has developed an interest and speciality in understanding the complex challenges farmers face in their transition to sustainable food value chains.

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Scott Chang-Fleeman, Administrative and Finance Director

Scott Chang-Fleeman is a UC Santa Cruz Environmental Studies alum, vegetable farmer, and Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology alum. His farm, Shao Shan Farm, specializes in growing certified organic Asian vegetables for Bay Area AAPI chefs, grocers, and farmers markets. As a member of the farmer collaborative Second Generation Seeds, he also grows, saves, and distributes rare and climate adapted varieties of Asian vegetables. Prior to BFI, he worked at the Claremont Colleges managing operations, finances, education, and undergraduate employment at their educational farm and food waste recovery program. Outside of work, he volunteers time lobbying for increased resources for farmers of color and leads educational and cultural events around food, farming, and seed sovereignty for various community groups.

Photo of Nina Ichikawa.

Nina F. Ichikawa, Executive Director

Nina F. Ichikawa is the Executive Director for the Berkeley Food Institute. She previously served in the office of US Senator Daniel K. Inouye and with the US Department of Agriculture’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative. She received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies/Food Policy from UC Berkeley and a MA in International Relations/Food Policy from Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo. She volunteers for the California Farmer Justice Collaborative, Saba Grocers, the Sustainable Pest Management Workgroup, and Japanese American Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley.

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Nathalie A. Muñoz, Administrative Coordinator

Nathalie A. Muñoz is a 2018 UC Berkeley graduate with a BS in Environmental Sciences. Before joining the Berkeley Food Institute team, she was the Contracting and Purchasing Agent for the Berkeley Student Cooperative where she procured the food and supplies for 1,300 student-members. As a first-generation transfer student at Cal, she was a student researcher for BFI, working on the Berkeley Foodscape Mapping Project to help collect data on campus gardens, student food groups, and UC Berkeley food course historical trends. As the descendant of a Bracero farmworker, she is passionate about uplifting the marginalized voices of our food labor force.

Photo of Austin Price Communications Coordinator

Austin Price, Communications Coordinator

Austin Price is a writer and editor focused on environmental justice, climate change, biodiversity, and food and agriculture. He has a degree in history from Emory University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to the Berkeley Food Institute, he worked as an editor for Earth Island Journal. His writing and photography has appeared in Edible East Bay, Sierra, Bay Nature, Yale Environment 360, The Texas Tribune, and others. Aside from his work as a journalist and science communicator, he has enjoyed working on several diversified farms in Georgia and Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Lekeisha Simpson

Lekeisha Simpson, Agroecology and Wellness Coordinator

Lekeisha Simpson is a graduate of Jackson State University, the University of Phoenix graduate studies program in Rehabilitation and Counseling, and has a Permaculture Design Certification. They are a land steward, committed to the principles of food sovereignty and land justice to BIPOC and marginalized communities. Their work focuses on uplifting the importance of holistic wellness and creative expression to healing the people and land. By restoring and regenerating the land and protecting the environment (including restoring human networks), they hope to connect and honor ancestral traditional wisdom that exists in nature. They stand on the shoulders of their grandparents and other ancestors with many years of service in food production and distribution. They volunteer as a platoon leader for the Bay Area branch of The Mission Continues, a veterans service organization.