(From left to right: Christiana Schlutius, Luke Lindgren, Erica Ferrer, and Belinda Ramirez)
The University of California President’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) Student Fellowship Program funds student-generated research, related projects, or internships that focus on food issues. All 10 UC campuses, plus the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, participate in this program. The UC San Diego Bioregional Center is proud to announce the 2018-19 GFI Student Fellows and Student Ambassador: Christiana Schlutius, Luke Lindgren, Erica Ferrer, and Belinda Ramirez. See below to read more about the Fellows’ projects, such as conducting cooking demos to encourage healthy eating, developing data-collecting prototypes to help grow food in greenhouses more sustainably, and using visual media to bring to light the importance of small-scale fisheries for global food security.
As a GFI Fellow, Christiana strives to improve food security among UC San Diego students. One way of doing this is to connect healthy, fresh produce from Roger’s Community Garden (the largest community garden on campus) to the Triton Food Pantry. To facilitate this process, Christiana will conduct weekly cooking demos at The Hub on Thursdays from 12:30-1:30pm, featuring the same fresh produce served at the pantry. Check out the first cooking demo from this year, “Cooking on a Student Budget.” The goal of these demos is to help educate students on how to use the food they receive and to build meal preparation skills.
Luke’s GFI project centers around the creation of a smart, aquaponic greenhouse that utilizes off-the-shelf technologies. While this test greenhouse will be relatively small, it is hoped that any lessons learned from this experience can be used to help the University of California campuses grow food in a more sustainable manner. Unfortunately, green and smart technologies have a high cost of entry and knowledge, so Luke has joined forces with a group of coders and gardeners to start the group Computer Science for Agriculture with the goal of training others to set up production sensor and control nodes. These nodes, or “boxes,” can do anything from monitor the temperature and pH of soil and water to gather atmospheric data like gas concentrations. While still in the prototype phase, Luke and his team aim to get several of these “boxes” up and running so that they can install them in the greenhouses at Roger’s Community Garden on campus.
Erica is a second-year Ph.D. student at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in Dr. Octavio Aburto’s lab. As part of the Aburto lab, she is interested in questions related to sustainability across marine systems, focusing her graduate research on small-scale fisheries ecology in Latin America. Did you know that anywhere from 30-50% of the world’s seafood is supplied by small-scale fisheries? The catch from small-scale fisheries and industrial fisheries alike comprise an important component of global food security, while contributing to the economic vitality of communities across every continent. But how sustainable are these food systems with respect to their environment? With collaboration and guidance from Zack Osborn, Student and Community Engagement Specialist for the Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning, and Design, Erica is working to produce a video that outlines fisheries research being conducted at the University of California and beyond. She hopes that this video will demonstrate successful ways to sustainably fish from the ocean without resorting to destructive and unhealthy practices.
Belinda’s efforts as this year’s UC San Diego GFI Student Ambassador will focus on strengthening the connections between UC GFI Student Ambassadors across the UC system by collaborating and maintaining consistent communication. As a former GFI Fellow, she believes that this will have the effect of helping the UC San Diego GFI Fellows understand their role in the larger UC Global Food Initiative. Using her experience with event programming and social organizing, Belinda hopes to connect UC San Diego students with sustainability and food organizations, initiatives, and events on campus, including the many gardens on campus. This can help to create a stronger push toward bringing sustainability, food, and agricultural issues to the foreground at UC San Diego. Belinda is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural anthropology. Her dissertation research—which explores the intersections of race, politics, place, and values within the urban agriculture movement in San Diego and Tijuana—builds off of her work as a GFI Fellow and Student Ambassador.