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Answering the Big Questions, Using the Resources You May Not Know You Had – Panel: Graduate Students, Tufts University Food Lab

July 27, 2018 @ 3:20 pm – 5:00 pm

What are your big questions? How will you answer them? Research is often referred to as an academic activity but, as it turns out, it can happen anywhere, most of us can engage in the process and contribute to meaningful impact in our communities! Join four graduate students from the Tufts University Food Lab who will share their stories of tackling complex food system issues through research. The discussion will encourage you to think about your own big questions and how you might answer them with the help of public-private partnerships, citizen science, and participatory research. Together, we will brainstorm ways participants can tap into their local academic and institutional networks, talent, and resources. 

Alexandra Stern is a PhD student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She is a trained public health specialist with 5 years of experience in research and evaluation of food safety, nutrition, and environmental exposure. Alexandra is currently researching how sprouting wheat impacts nutritional value and baking properties. Through her grain research, Alexandra hopes to support local maltsters determine the most effective way to sprout wheat. 

Claire Loudis is a graduate student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Through her research, Claire is seeking viable solutions for the health and environmental problems that arise from the mainstream approach to food production and access. She is interested in cultivating creative solutions through 100% whole wheat baking with plants bred for both improved yield and resiliency as well as nutrition and flavor. Claire is dedicated to building strong connections between all food system stakeholders – farmers, processors, retailers, chefs – to support the grain economy and make food more accessible, nutritious, and delicious. 

Nayla Bezares is a graduate student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Her love for the WSU Bread Lab’s whole wheat croissant, both its story and taste, knows no bounds. In her research, she focuses on the impact of food manufacturing in empowering community economic development. Her motivation grows from exposure to the industrialized food supply chain and her experiences growing up in Puerto Rico where a dependence on food imports underlines the declining health of its citizens. She is interested in exploring the potential of small-scale food manufacturing in developing opportunities for local wealth creation and improved nutrition of food products. She has seen this model in action in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston through CommonWealth Kitchen’s urban manufacturing operations and is looking forward to replicating this concept in Puerto Rico and other rural economies.

Tetyana Pecherska is a graduate student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. With a diverse background in the restaurant industry and community food access, Tetyana witnessed firsthand how a supply chain that prioritizes efficiency and cutting costs above all else fails to protect the integrity and accessibility of food. Looking to redefine the food system as something more than driven by market forces, Tetyana is developing ways to promote collaborative research and public-private partnerships that empower both producers and consumers. Inspired by the ingenuity and synergistic relationships that helped cultivate a resilient grain economy in the Skagit Valley, she hopes to foster a similar network in New England.