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.


Emily Altman

Emily Altman, Food Access and Security Fellow

Master’s Student, Public Health Nutrition. Emily’s passion lies at the intersection of nutrition and food security. Originally from North Carolina, she attended Emory University where she graduated summa cum laude as an Anthropology and Global Health major. She then spent two years as a Child Hunger Corps member at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County where she evaluated child nutrition programs. As the UC Global Food Initiative Food Access and Security Fellow, Emily will work on implementation and growth of the new UC Food Security Model. The Food Access and Security Fellowship is funded through the UC Global Food Initiative.

Grace Lihn

Grace Lihn, Experiential Learning Fellow

Undergraduate Student, Cooperative Urban Food Systems. Grace Lihn is an ever-curious social science student with a background in critical pedagogy, urban planning, and environmental activism. She has served as the Communications Director for the Berkeley Student Food Collective, where she continues to work with other students to create a more equitable storefront and community space. She has also mentored first-year students in a residential sustainability program, facilitated gardening classes for the Student Organic Gardening Association, and trained as a middle school educator with Breakthrough Collaborative in Oakland, California. When she’s not immersed in research on cooperatives and food systems, Grace enjoys traveling and painting watercolors. As the UC Global Food Initiative Experiential Learning Fellow, Grace will advocate for experiential learning opportunities across UC Berkeley, with a specific focus on hands-on campus food production. The Experiential Learning Fellowship is funded through the UC Global Food Initiative.

Katie McKnight

Katie McKnight, Research Fellow

Master’s Student, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. Katie is dedicated to improving food access in vulnerable communities in the Bay Area. Originally from North Carolina, Katie draws on her background of permaculture design, environmental science and planning to further her understanding of urban agroecology as a means to food justice. As a Berkeley Food Institute Research Fellow, Katie will be continuing her Master’s thesis research to optimize and expand the UC Gill Tract Community Farm’s food distribution network to better support students experiencing food insecurity. In her view, the most important opportunity this fellowship presents is the ability to contribute to creative environmental planning efforts working towards a healthier and more just campus and community.

Maywa Montenegro de Wit

Maywa Montenegro de Wit, Center for Diversified Farming Systems Fellow

PhD Candidate, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. As Communications Coordinator for the Diversified Farming Systems Center, Maywa manages a growing listserv of academics, community organizers, and policymakers who share articles, research opportunities, and collaborative ideas online. Bringing her background in science journalism to meet agri-food issues, she enjoys fostering dialogue at the interface of media and research, and to those ends, occasionally publishes Friday Food Links. Maywa also serves as the graduate student representative on the Berkeley committee for the UC Global Food Initiative, and has been part of the team helping to design the Center for Urban Agroecology and Food Justice. Maywa’s own dissertation work focuses on seeds, agroecology, and food system diversity, with writings on these topics appearing in the journals Agriculture and Human Values, Globalizations, and Gastronomica, as well as popular venues such as the Earth Island Journal, Ensia, Seed Magazine, and the Boston Globe.

Melina Packer

Melina Packer, Equity and Inclusion Fellow

PhD Student, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM). Melina takes an intersectional feminist approach to agri-food studies. She is particularly intrigued by the embodied effects of industrial/technological food production, including how “nature” and “culture” become mutually constitutive. Melina is also an active member of the ESPM Graduate Diversity Council and the ESPM union steward for UAW Local 2865. As UC Global Food Initiative Equity and Inclusion Fellow, Melina will serve as co-leader, along with Hortencia Rodríguez, of the ongoing project “Building Equitable and Inclusive Food Systems at UC Berkeley.” The Equity and Inclusion Fellowship is partially funded through the UC Global Food Initiative.

Caroline Prado

Carolina Prado, Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow

PhD Candidate, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management; Designated Emphasis, Gender and Women’s Studies. Carolina is a queer Chicana with roots in Southern California and Jalisco, México. Her participatory research analyzes cross-border environmental justice movements and binational governance in the Tijuana-San Diego region. She is also an organizer for food and environmental justice as well as with the autonomous Zapatista communities in Chiapas, México. She will be collaborating with the Berkeley Food Institute and Phat Beets Produce to support the Beet Box community supported agriculture program that supports small farmers of color and funds vouchers for low income folks with diet-related health problems to access fresh produce. This collaboration is also working to increase participation in the Market Match program where folks with federal nutrition benefits get their dollars matched to increase access to pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.

Hortencia Rodríguez

Hortencia Rodríguez, Equity and Inclusion Fellow

Dual Master’s Student, Public Policy and International and Area Studies. Hortencia is from San Juan, Puerto Rico and graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Anthropology. Her research has primarily focused on studying innovative anti-poverty initiatives to understand the possibilities and limitations of different social service models that address the barriers making it difficult for individuals to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Her current research explores established and emerging female-led food justice movements in Puerto Rico that are working to revive and reclaim food production on the island. These movements aim to create sustainable food systems that decrease dependence on imports, provide island-wide access to healthy food products, and include community members in production and distribution systems. She hopes to design responsive and equitable policies that support the transformation of local and regional food systems in Puerto Rico to secure greater economic and political autonomy for the island. As UC Global Food Initiative Equity and Inclusion Fellow, Hortencia will serve as co-leader, along with Melina Packer, of the ongoing project “Building Equitable and Inclusive Food Systems at UC Berkeley.” The Equity and Inclusion Fellowship is partially funded through the UC Global Food Initiative.

Simone Saldanha

Simone Saldanha, Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow

Master’s Student, Public Health Nutrition. Simone is passionate about designing innovative solutions for issues of food insecurity and diet-related disease. Originally from Colorado, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma in 2013 with a focus in anthropology and health. She spent two years as an AmeriCorps member at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, developing nutrition education programming and exploring the intersection of hunger and health. As a community engagement fellow, Simone will be evaluating the design of a program that provides access to fresh produce for patients with chronic disease. She seeks to understand how we can build healthy and food-secure communities through cross-sector collaboration.

Agnes Zhu

Agnes Zhu, UC Global Food Initiative Student Ambassador

Undergraduate Student, Business Administration. Agnes, an Indiana native and third year student, has always had a passion for food. During her junior year of high school, she was introduced to the world of food justice at The Mountain School in Vershire, Vermont. There, she learned about farm life, food production, and food’s importance to the environment. At Berkeley, Agnes is currently researching different aspects of the food industry and hopes to continue pursuing her passion for the next four years. She interns at the Edible Schoolyard Foundation and teaches her own class on innovative solutions to the problems within our food systems. As the UC Global Food Initiative Student Ambassador, Agnes serves as the GFI student engagement go‐to person for UC Berkeley. The Student Ambassador is funded through the UC Global Food Initiative.