Alex Yong Kang Chow is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, and his research project focuses on the spread of organic food, particularly in Taiwan, and its roots in social and cultural development as well as spirituality.
When COVID-19 began, many students lost critical research support. Thanks to the support of our funders, BFI was able to step in and support several graduate student fellows during the summer of 2020 to research the intersections of food, climate, and health. Fellows conducted their research through sponsorship from members of our affiliated faculty from a variety of departments on campus, including environmental science, policy, and management; public health; and more.
The 2020 graduate student fellows and their research are beginning to receive recognition. Fellow Samantha Derrick translated her summer research into the Plant Futures Symposium, co-hosted by several UC Berkeley colleges and schools. The symposium began in January and attracted over 500 attendees. The symposium has also been featured in media outlets such as FoodNavigator, One Green Planet, and Haas Business School’s “Redefining Business”. Fellow Casey Smith was awarded the Graduate School of Journalism’s Knight Award for Excellence in Reporting on a Science or Environmental Subject for “Glyphosate Woes: The War Against Weeds.” Casey’s writing explores the evolution of a commonly used herbicide, glyphosate, and the ongoing challenge of weed eradication. Fellow Jacob Spertus published their research in the Open Journal of Soil Science. Their paper “Optimal Sampling and Assay for Estimating Soil Organic Carbon” highlights the benefits of soil organic carbon to create healthy soil and additional ecosystem benefits. Fellow Leslie (Leke) Hutchins published their research in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. Leke’s research “What Do Values Have to Do With It?: Resilience of Two Types of Farmers in Hawai‘i to the COVID-19 Pandemic” analyzes the complex local food system in Hawai’i through the history of agriculture and socio-cultural formations. We are excited for our 2020 graduate student fellows — congratulations on all your accomplishments.
Get to know all of our Summer 2020 Graduate Fellows below.
Alex Yong Kang Chow
Chryl Corbin is a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and her research project assesses the physical and social impacts of COVID-19 within the City of Oakland’s public parks system.
Samantha Derrick is a Master’s student in the School of Public Health, and her research examines shifts from animal-based foods to plant-based alternatives and efforts surrounding this shift on the UC Berkeley campus.
Erin Esaryk is a recent graduate of the School of Public Health with a MS in Public Health Nutrition, and her research project focuses on student food insecurity at UC Berkeley, with an emphasis on the effects of COVID-19 as well as structural inequalities on campus and beyond.
Shelley He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and her project will use a machine learning approach to analyze 40,000 American households between 2013-2018 to understand the impacts of food systems shocks on families with food-related diseases and other dietary restrictions.
Leslie (Leke) Hutchins
Leslie (Leke) Hutchins is a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, whose research project focuses on local farmers in Hawai’i, their production and selling practices, and how sociocultural and economic factors affect these practices.
Janis Kim is a Master’s student in the School of Public Health, and her research project evaluates the effectiveness of the Berkeley Food Network’s (BFN) Mobile Pantry Program in its goal to combat food insecurity locally.
Frances Roberts-Gregory is a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and her research focuses on how women of color in Gulf Coast Louisiana navigate contradictory relationships with energy and petrochemical industries, resist environmental racism, and devise solutions for energy, climate, and food justice.
Casey Smith is a recent graduate of the School of Journalism with a MA in Narrative Science Writing and Investigative Journalism, and her research project examines the history and significance of glyphosate bans and potential alternatives to the herbicide throughout California and nationwide.
Jacob Spertus is a PhD candidate in the Department of Statistics, and this summer they will gather statistical evidence of the efficacy of large-scale soil organic carbon sequestration on farms and rangelands and build a software environment for analyses of real data in collaboration with soil scientists.