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Six UC Merced Students Awarded UC Food Initiative Fellowships

December 9, 2014

As part of the University of California Global Food Initiative, 54 students — including six from UC Merced—have been awarded fellowships to fund projects that will address issues ranging from community gardens and food pantries to urban agriculture and food waste.

All 10 UC campuses plus the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are participating in the UC President’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program. The $2,500 fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students, selected by the campuses, will fund student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on food issues. Also, plans are being developed for student fellows to convene in spring 2015.

I want to congratulate the inaugural class of Global Food Initiative student fellows,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “These are outstanding students who are passionate about this important global topic and will be able to make valuable contributions to this initiative through these fellowships. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their projects.”

Napolitano, together with UC's 10 chancellors, launched the Global Food Initiative in July in an effort to help put UC's campuses, the state and the world on a pathway to sustainably and nutritiously feed themselves. The fellowships will support the work of the initiative’s early action teams and the initiative’s overall efforts to address food security, health and sustainability.

The UC Merced student fellows and their projects are:

·         Hoaithi Dang, hydroponic farming;

·         Erendira Estrada, evaluating the effects of a mobile grocery in addressing the lack of access to fresh foods in rural communities;

·         Rebecca Quinte, sustainable agriculture in Central Valley food crops;

·         Megan Schill, prions and food safety;

·         Emily Wilson, endophytes and sustainable agriculture; and

·         Andrew Zumkehr, farmland mapping project .

Fellowship projects throughout the state will examine urban agriculture, sustainable campus landscapes, agricultural waste streams and biological pest control, among other projects. Some projects will enhance experiential learning, such as constructing new vegetable gardens. Others will support food pantries. Yet other projects will document research through films and social media.

The bulk of the fellowship funding comes from the UC President’s Initiative Fund. Additional fellowships at UC Merced will be supported by Craig McNamara, president and owner of walnut-producing Sierra Orchards, and his wife, Julie.