Revival of the Student Research Conference

by Jennifer Huang

The 10th Future of Food and Nutrition Graduate Student Research Conference, known fondly within the Friedman community as the SRC, took place on April 7th and 8th. Jennifer Huang gives us a photo-filled recap of this student-led event, where she—and all who attended—were blown away by the amazing capabilities of student presenters and the Friedmanites who worked tirelessly since last November on planning this event.

This year the SRC had its first-ever Poster Slam, where presenters competed against one another to win the prize for the best three-minute talk about their research. A total of 13 presenters from various institutions participated at this Friday evening event where an anomaly at Friedman occurred: Free beer and wine! (And delicious veggies, of course). Some presenters transformed their talks into an entertaining rap or poem, while others presented theirs straight. Topics ranged from food insecurity during and after climate shocks, celebrity marketing to global food supply and demand. Overall, there was just the right amount of (wine-fueled) nerdiness!

On Saturday, Helena Bottemiller Evich, Senior Food and Agriculture Reporter at POLITICO, gave the keynote lecture. While Helena anticipates fewer advancements in agriculture and nutrition policy during the Trump presidency than during the Obama administration, she holds a bit of hope after browsing Ivanka Trump’s Instagram, finding pictures of healthy food and farming. Maybe having Ivanka as an adviser isn’t a terrible thing after all, she mused. Helena also noted that advocates for the National School Lunch Program and other nutrition programs seem to agree as they have already begun to target lobbying efforts in Ivanka’s direction. In addition to Ivanka, Helena also mentioned other key players to follow for agriculture and nutrition issues, such as Chairmen Roberts in the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Chairmen Conaway in the US House Committee on Agriculture.

Helena recounted how she got out of her urban “bubble” before the election and spoke to farmers around the country. As a result, she was one of the few in Washington, D.C. who correctly predicted Trump presidency. She ended her talk by encouraging us all to branch out of our personal networks and engage with others of different mindsets.

Helena Bottemiller Evich gave her keynote speech. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

Helena Bottemiller Evich gave her keynote speech. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

The panel discussion in the afternoon continued the conversation about the future of food and nutrition, and was equally inspiring. The panelists came from various sectors, including Dr. Julian Agyeman, a professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, Dr. Richard Black, Principal at Quadrant D Consulting who recently served as the VP of Global R&D Nutrition Sciences PepsiCo, Ms. Anne McHugh, the Director of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Boston Public Health Commission, and Ms. Sylvia Rowe, President of SR Strategy. Our very own Dr. Parke Wilde moderated the panel.

When discussing the role of scientific evidence across sectors, Ms. Rowe clearly summarized the current social climate when she said, “There is not going to be science for the sake of science anymore, [as] public faith in science is questioned.” On the topic of private and public partnerships, there was consensus among the panelists that it will be critical to “find the synergy of goals,” as stated by Ms. McHugh.

The panel ended on a lighthearted note when a student asked a hypothetical question: Without time and monetary constraints, what questions (not necessarily about food) would the panelists want to ask and solve? The answers ranged from establishing public-private partnerships to combatting obesity, nudging behavioral changes for healthier lifestyle, discovering the role of microbiome in health and disease, to promoting public acceptance of diversity by understanding our personal genomics. Their diverse responses suggest the richness of this multidisciplinary discussion.

Panel discussion on the role of scientific evidence across sectors. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

Panel discussion on the role of scientific evidence across sectors. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

 

Of all the wonderful SRC activities, I personally enjoyed interacting with student presenters the most during the Saturday presentation sessions and poster session. I learned about my fellow classmates’ research, such as alfatoxin exposure in pregnant Nepalese and the minimum grocery delivery order requirement for elderly SNAP participants. I also met people from other institutions who are working on topics I have been learning about in class. When I chatted with an Emory student about her qualitative evaluation of food and nutrition security knowledge and practices in Guatemala and Honduras, I drew my learning from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ NUTR217: Monitoring and Evaluation. When a University of Delaware student presented his regional field experiment on nontraditional irrigation water, I saw how the concepts I have learned in Dr. Sean Cash’s NUTR341: Economics of Agriculture and the Environment are applied. I am excited to cross paths with those students again when we are professionals.

Faculty and student presenters at the poster session. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

Faculty and student presenters at the poster session. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

 

The 10th Future of Food and Nutrition Conference ended with a delightful networking reception at Trade, where conference presenters and participants continued their conversations and deepened their connections with mouthwatering appetizers and refreshing drinks.

Networking reception. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

Networking reception. Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

The learning and the personal connections that this year’s SRC has facilitated for meand for all who attendedare invaluable. The coming together of creative and ingenious students from around the country who are working to make our food and nutrition future better is truly an event you need to see to believe. I am grateful for the SRC team, particularly the SRC chairs, Dianna Bartone and Delphine Van Roosebeke, for leading this wonderful event. I am already looking forward to the 11th Future of Food and Nutrition SRC!

The hardworking team of Friedmanites who made the 10th SRC possible! Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans.

The hardworking team of Friedmanites who made the 10th SRC possible! Photo: Jeroen Eyckmans. 

 

Jennifer Huang is a first-year Food Policy and Applied Nutrition MS student and a registered dietitian. She is interested in econometrics, agricultural trade, and food safety.

The April/May Food and Nutrition Conference Circuit

by Kathleen Nay

“With nearly a dozen conferences taking place in and around Boston this month, how should I choose which one(s) to go to?”  If you’ve been asking yourself this question, you’re in luck. Kathleen Nay has the rundown of food and nutrition conferences, seminars and lecture series to check out.

Graduate school is about learning a subject deeply, engaging in research, networking and thinking about the future, whether that’s our future careers or the future of our field. An excellent way to participate in all of these endeavors is to attend conferences that offer meaningful opportunities to make connections with other professionals while observing the work and research up close. As it happens, this April and May are chock-full of conferences, seminars and lecture series about food, environment, nutrition and labor, all taking place in New England or the Northeast. Maybe you recently attended the Just Food? Forum or the Boston Food Tank Summit on April 1, and you’re raring for more. Here’s your official Conference Calendar for the rest of April and May.

 

April 3, April 26 and May 8: Harvard Lecture Series, “The Future of Food: Climate, Crops and Consequences”

Times and locations vary; Cambridge, MA

Cost: Free

Hosted by the Harvard University Center for the Environment, this lecture series will highlight interactions between agriculture and climate. On Monday, April 3, Michael K. Stern, CEO of the Climate Corporation, will give a talk entitled “Trends and Challenges in Global Agriculture: The Opportunity for Digital Ag.” On Wednesday, April 26, listen as Wrigley Fellow David Lobell speaks on “Improving Agriculture in a Warmer World.” Finally, on Monday, May 8, Lisa Ainsworth, a professor with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and USDA ARS researcher, will conclude the series with a discussion about “Understanding and Improving Crop Responses to Global Atmospheric Change.” Learn more about the Harvard University Center for the Environment and watch past recorded lectures from the series here.

 

April 5 – 7: New England Farm to Institution Summit

Leominster, MA

Cost: Registration now closed

The New England Farm to Institution Summit promises two exciting days of learning from and sharing with hundreds of farm-to-institution advocates. The Summit will focus on farm-to-school, farm-to-campus, and farm-to-health care programs. While registration for this event has already closed, it’s worth putting on your calendar for next year! You can learn more about the Summit, speakers, and host organizations (Farm to Institution New England, Health Care Without Harm, and USDA Farm to School) here.

 

April 6: Venture Capital Investment for Food

6:00 – 8:30 PM, Boston, MA

Cost: $25 General Attendance

Branchfood hosts a networking event and panel discussion that will bring venture investors across the food and food-tech industries together to discuss financing food businesses, opportunities for innovation, market trends, and how to launch a successful food startup. Panelists will include Marcia Hooper, Partner at investing firm HooperLewis, Alex Whitmore of Taza Chocolate, and Nick Mccoy, Managing Director at Whipstitch Capital. Attendees will have the chance to network with industry mentors and investors, and to stay for a food tasting. Get the evening’s schedule, registration, and parking information here.

 

April 7: Tufts Food Systems Symposium

10 AM – 2 PM, Medford, MA

Cost: Free, with registration

The first-ever Tufts Food System Symposium’s theme is “Intersections of Waste and Food Insecurity.” It will feature keynote addresses from Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s and founder of Dorchester’s Daily Table, and Sasha Purpura, executive director of Food For Free. These will be followed by a panel discussion with Boston-area advocates, students, and faculty. Attendees are invited to take place in table conversations over lunch, provided by Tufts Dining. A poster session and mini-expo will conclude the afternoon. Participants are asked to register at the Food[at]Tufts website.

 

April 7 – 8: Graduate Student Research Conference

8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Jaharis Building, Boston, MA

Cost: $15-25 Early Bird Pricing ends April 3 at 5 PM; $25-35 for day-of registration

The 10th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference presents this year’s theme, “The Future of Food and Nutrition.” Graduate students from varied disciplines will gather to present original research relating to food systems and nutrition science. Helena Bottemiller Evich, senior food and agriculture reporter at POLITICO, will give the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion including Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning professor Julian Agyeman, SR Strategy president Sylvia Rowe, and Richard Black, a 25-year veteran of the nutrition field. Participants are also invited to attend a post-conference reception for refreshments and networking. To register or read more, visit the Graduate Student Conference website.

 

April 10: Nature Research Seminar

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Sackler 114, Boston, MA

Cost: Free

Sir Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief for the international weekly scientific journal, Nature, will speak about management challenges for principal investigators and researchers looking to publish their work. Topics will include working with editors, post-publication pressures, lab integrity, data management, reproducibility, mentoring, best practices and more. Sir Campbell’s 50-minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. Read more about the event from Tufts’ Vice Provost for Research.

 

April 21: 8th Annual WSSS Symposium

9:00 AM – 5:30 PM, Medford, MA

Cost: Free to Tufts students, faculty and staff; $10 for non-Tufts affiliated attendees

Each year, graduate students in the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) certificate program host a Symposium about water topics. This year’s theme is “Untapped Potential: Making Water Markets Work for All” and will focus on possible public-private solutions for regional water-based issues. Attendees will hear from speakers working in public, private, and non-governmental sectors, and research-track WSSS students will present their work at the lunchtime poster session. In fact, WSSS invites all students working on water-related research to participate in the poster session. Cash prizes will be awarded! To enter, submit your abstract using this form no later than April 7. Check out the Tufts Institute of the Environment website for registration info and to see a list of speakers and schedules.

 

April 23: AllLocal Dinner at Mei Mei Restaurant

5:30 PM, Boston, MA

Cost: $55 – $65

For something a little different to break up your busy conference calendar, consider attending an AllLocal Dinner at Mei Mei Restaurant near Fenway. AllLocal events raise awareness about the benefits and challenges of seasonal cooking while promoting local agriculture and highlighting New England’s regional food system. Attendees will hear from Chef Irene Li and a local farmer, while enjoying eight family-style dishes and locally crafted libations. Mei Mei Restaurant is committed to sourcing local, pasture-raised, and humanely slaughtered meats and sustainably grown foods from family-based producers. Proceeds from the dinner will support the Boston Local Food Program. For details about the dinner and to buy tickets, visit the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts’ events page.

 

April 25: Food Hub Forum

8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Boston Public Market, Boston, MA

Cost: Free to students and seniors; $25 General Admission

For anyone interested in urban agriculture and regional distribution, the Boston Public Market’s Food Hub Forum is a must-attend event. Topics will include urban hubs, regional food systems, the history and future of Boston’s market district, economies of local restaurant and food retail businesses, and incubator services. Attendees are invited to partake in libations and networking after the event. Find full details and register here by April 22.

 

April 28 – 29: New England Meat Conference

April 28, 10:00 AM – April 29, 3:00 PM, Manchester, NH

Cost: $45 – $349 (several packages offered)

The New England Meat Conference brings farmers, processors, butchers, value-added producers and chefs together to discuss the economies, infrastructure, and potential for growth of the New England meat industry. Topics will include production, processing and pricing, whole-animal purchasing, emerging markets, inventory management, scalability, and more. Attend educational sessions, network with industry stakeholders at the trade show, and attend the Meat Ball, a competition where chefs will offer live demos. Registrants can opt to attend one or both days. Special pricing is available for students. More information at the New England Meat Conference website.

 

And if meat isn’t your thing…

 

May 20 – 21: Reducetarian Summit

May 20, 8:00 AM – May 21, 6:00 PM, Manhattan, NY

Cost: $99 Advance Student Admission; $199-399 General Admission

The central question of this first-of-its-kind event is, “How do we as individuals, organizations, communities, and societies work to systematically decrease meat consumption?” Join and share with more than three dozen high-profile food industry leaders in workshops, breakout sessions, panel discussions, and delicious meals. Topics will include the impacts of animal agriculture, using strategic communication tools to change attitudes and behaviors, the politics of meat, strategies for internalizing the external costs of factory farming, and more. For a complete list of presenters and moderators and to register, visit the Summit’s website.

Are there any conferences, seminars, or similar events missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Kathleen Nay is a second-year AFE/UEP student. You can catch her volunteering at the Food Tank Summit on April 1, in attendance at the Tufts Food Systems Symposium on April 7, and at the Food Hub Forum on April 25.