Explores How Humans Can Become a More Responsible Part of the Food Cycle

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Sally Geislar, an environmental enthusiast and graduate student in Social Ecology’s Planning, Policy & Design, continues to harvest multiple awards for her commitment to agricultural efficiency, sustainability, and food equity. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Public Impact Fellowship, the Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship,the Dean’s Award for Community Engagement, the Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship, and the Lindley Haynes Dissertation Fellowship.

“I am grateful and humbled by the generous awards that I have received,” says Sally.  “They have enabled me to focus more time on preparing for the crucial data collection phase of my community-based experiment and have also allowed me to do more outreach in communicating my research to a broader audience.” 

Sally examines how households can contribute to more sustainable pathways for food and food waste in urban settings, in order to reduce both hunger and global warming.  She conducts community-based research on farmer’s markets and curbside composting programs. These projects will explore how households respond to changes in access to local food sources and new food scrap recovery systems. “Ultimately, this work will contribute to a better understanding of household behavior change in the context of fluctuations in infrastructure and community resources,” she says.

Sally’s work explores ways for policy makers to pair environmentally conscious programs that will help eliminate habitual harmful behaviors in the community. By taking responsibility, her research will help people in cities get more fruits and vegetables that are grown by local formers, as well as help people separate the food they don’t eat from other waste in order to create healthy soil to grow more fruits and vegetables.

She will soon complete her data collection, by collaborating with the Costa Mesa Sanitary District and her award-winning research assistants to create a two-part experiment with 600 randomly selected residents. She then plans to defend her dissertation in early spring 2016.  In the future, Sally hopes to continue doing applied, interdisciplinary research to improve urban good and food waste systems.

Inspired by her colleague, Chris Ann Lunghino, Founding President of Community Sustainable USA, Inc., Sally values the importance of making connections with people and being committed to issues of sustainability. She believes that “it is very important to recognize that so much of what we are capable of is rooted in the community we keep.”

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