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.


Carmen Brick, Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow

PhD Student, Sociology. Carmen is a third-year doctoral student who has held positions with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Congressional Research Service, and the New York State Legislature. Carmen studied Sociology at Mount Holyoke College and Public Administration at the State University of New York at Albany, and hopes to use her sociological training and governmental experience to contribute to policies that improve the economic security and social inclusion of low-income people. Carmen’s current research examines how US work institutions can be reformed to reverse contemporary job polarization. During her fellowship, Carmen will partner with a workforce training program, Kitchen of Champions, which provides culinary training, professional development support, industry certification, case management, and job placement support to individuals facing high barriers to employment. As a fellow, Carmen will assist the program in building capacity in several areas, including professional development, case management to address barriers to employment, and job placement with the goal of improving access to living-wage employment in the food system. She is pleased to be putting ideas into action through the Community Engagement and Leadership Fellowship.

Erika Brown, Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow

PhD Student, Epidemiology with an emphasis in Public Health Nutrition. Erika originally hails from San Diego, CA. She completed a BA in American Studies and Community Health at Tufts University and an MPH in Epidemiology/Biostatistics at UC Berkeley. As an undergraduate, she nurtured an interest in improving access to social safety net services working as a client advocate at LIFT. Ever since, she has conducted public health research that takes a system-focused, data-driven approach to improving wellness through program and policy development. Since coming to graduate school, Erika has narrowed her focus to resources that support food security, in particular. As a community engagement and leadership fellow, Erika will return to Southern California to work with the San Diego Hunger Coalition on the Hunger Free San Diego Initiative. She aims to identify barriers that prevent marginalized populations from accessing different forms of food assistance and working with community partners to create multi-sectoral approaches that address them.

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.

Jim LaChance, Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow

PhD Student, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. As a PhD student in ESPM, Jim focuses on sociological and ecological food systems research. He is interested in working with farmers and fishermen to solve problems they face as producers, while also supporting the health of their communities and environments—particularly in coastal regions like New England, where he grew up. As a Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow, he will be collaborating with BFI and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA), which is based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Broadly, his work as a BFI fellow aims to build support for socially, economically, and environmentally just fisheries within our food system. Through his work with NAMA, he will identify areas of alignment between farmers and fishermen in the upcoming reauthorizations of the Farm Bill and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (a.k.a. the Fish Bill). His work will include policy research, communications and outreach, and participating in community events with NAMA on both the East and West Coasts.

Julieth H. Ortiz, Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow

Dual Master’s Student, City Planning and Environmental Planning-Landscape Architecture. Julieth is from Barranquilla, Colombia and holds a degree from Baruch College (CUNY) in Public Affairs. Her research mostly looks at food accessibility and health disparities in low-income communities. As a fellow, Julieth will be collaborating with the Mayor’s Office at the City of Richmond in efforts to improve access to healthy foods and strengthen health equity for local residents. She is interested in understanding the decision-making process behind ‘eating choices,’ and exploring how access to locally grown, healthy foods affects those choices. This can only be accomplished co-producing knowledge with the community. Julieth hopes to influence how disadvantaged communities are identified. She is particularly interested in connecting food equity to AB 2227, Transformative Climate Communities. Findings from her fellowship will link to the ongoing health, food and environmental equity work in Richmond, in particular the Food Census Project, and also inform her Master’s joint thesis.

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.

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.