2013 Future of Food and Nutrition Conference: Everyone at the table

By Kari Kempf

Student Group Spotlight

Spring is finally arriving in Boston and likewise, nutrition students from across the country will soon make their way to Jaharis. On April 6, the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy will host the 7th annual Future of Food and Nutrition Conference.

The theme of this year’s keynote panel is “Everyone at the Table: Multi-Sectoral Approaches to Malnutrition,” a nod to the diverse and overlapping areas of research that contribute to the fight against malnutrition. Last year, more than 200 graduate and doctoral students from 28 schools were contributors to the poster and oral presentations or attended the conference.

The keynote panel this year will feature three experts who have worked in nontraditional sectors, approaching malnutrition from a unique point of view or bridging gaps among diverse groups in the interest of reaching a common goal. Panelists are: Emily Broad Leib, director of Harvard Law School’s Center for Health and Policy Innovation; James Harrison, North Shore regional director of The Food Project, a local organization dedicated to building sustainable food systems; and Jason M. Reed, director of strategy and corporate partnerships at Hunger-Free Minnesota.

Together, the panel represents agencies that bring particular strengths to the discussion – food law and policy formation alongside agricultural expertise, local food and fitness council activism, and an agenda striving to eradicate hunger through a measurable, concrete goal. The combination is expected to make for an enlightening discussion about the myriad ways to approach the issue of malnutrition.

We asked Friedman student and conference organizer, Brooke Smith, for more details about the conference and the involvement of Friedman students, many of who are looking forward to this unique opportunity to share their hard work with peers and nutrition professionals.

Who sponsors and organizes this event?

The event is entirely organized and run by Friedman students.  This year, the Student Research Conference Committee has generous support from the vice-provost for research at Tufts, the deans of Policy and Science, and the Friedman Student Council.

The panel discussion topic of this year’s Student Research Conference is “Everyone at the Table: Multisectoral Approaches to Malnutrition.” How is this theme reflected in the diversity of presentations this year?

The panel theme reflects an interest among committee members to learn more about innovative ideas and programs to address domestic malnutrition that are coming from some of the sectors we may talk a little less about at Friedman, like law and NGO/corporate partnerships.

The student research presentations and posters come from a much broader call for abstracts that includes a wide variety of topics related to food and nutrition: nutrition science, food policy, social science, domestic and international nutrition programs, etc.  We support a unique program here at Friedman and the conference aims to bring together all of our diverse, but related, interests.

A presentation at last year's conference

A presentation at last year’s conference

What are some of the exciting features of this year’s conference?

An exciting new feature we are trying this year is a post-conference networking event in order to encourage the conversation to continue after all the presentations and the keynote. We have invited some local Friedman alums, and we hope it will give students the chance to connect with people in other programs and outside of Friedman. The event will take place after the panel presentation Saturday at a local restaurant, Trade, on Atlantic Avenue near South Station.

Many of our own Friedman students are featured in the presentation sessions. What research areas can we expect to learn about from our classmates?

One really great thing about the conference is the chance to hear from your Friedman classmates in different programs.  We are all here together, but with so much time dedicated to our own classes and programs, it’s really hard to learn deeply about what other people are researching. For instance, as an AFE student I am really excited about the session entitled “Molecules, Genes, and Metabolism,” which will highlight the research of three BMN [Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition] students.  Students who won’t have the chance to take any agriculture courses at Friedman might be interested in the session on “Issues and Perspectives in Agricultural Land Use.”

Is there any additional information you would like to share?

The committee really believes in the Future of Food and Nutrition Conference as an opportunity for students to bring their research outside the classroom and a chance to show prospective students (it coincides with admitted students weekend!) as well as other students and professionals in nutrition what Friedman is about. We hope you will join us on April 6th!

Register for the Future of Food and Nutrition Conference here or on the day of the conference. Check out the event schedule for the conference here.  For more information, please email studentconference@tufts.edu.

Kari Kempf is a first-year Friedman student in the Nutrition Communication program. In her free time, she enjoys cycling, hiking, walking, and other outdoor spring activities .

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