MSFSS Students and Alumni

Food Systems and Society students are motivated by interest in and commitment to improving the social conditions and processes that influence justice in food systems and society.  

Food System and Society students and alumni are located in a wide range of places and engaged with an impressive array of food system-related work. Professional areas include: education (at all levels), research, clinical health practice, corrections, journalism, policymaking, nonprofit organizations.

Learn more about their work on the FSS Capstones Page.

Kristy Athens in the mountains

Kristy Athens

Thesis title: Voting Rights: How the Fetishization of Organic Compromises Food Justice

After graduating in 2015, I presented my thesis at the AFHVS/ASFA conference and Yale Food Systems Symposium, wrote profiles for the OSU Extension website, and led an Oregon Humanities discussion forum called "Good Food, Bad Food: Agriculture, Ethics, and Personal Choice." I founded and run an online gift shop that showcases local and Nez Perce artists and makers, called Genuine Wallowa County, and a local food-delivery service, Good Groceries.

Darci Becker standing and smiling

Darci Becker

Thesis title: White Supremacy and food media: Identifying and challenging racism in popular food discourse

Based in New Orleans, LA, Darci is a former Pastry Chef with an undergraduate degree in Social Policy and Practice. Darci hopes to increase efforts by the local restaurant industry to feed food desert neighborhoods.

Anna Borgman standing outside with steaming bread.

Anna Borgman

Thesis title: Commodity Racism, Cultural Appropriation, and the Perpetuation of Oppressive Food Discourse

I teach butchery and bread baking as a vehicle to introduce people to food systems and land management issues. I also do mobile wild game processing and am working to implement mobile livestock slaughter and butchery in the Gallatin Valley of Montana. You can learn more on the website Forage Fed

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Nicole Brand

Thesis title: Collaborative effort for systems change: views across the food movement

Nicole Brand is the Director of the Environmental Conservation Outreach, Research, and Education (ECORE) System for the University of South Florida. There, she manages the environmental, agricultural, and botanical assets for the College of Arts and Sciences and serves as the Burn Boss for the USF Forest Preserve. She was formerly the Director of Outreach Programs for the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, an organization that advocates for innovative strategies in large-scale landscape conservation including the role of Florida ranch and farm lands.

Cait Brigham standing and smiling

Cait Brigham

Thesis title: Grassroots filling in the cracks for Oregon farmworkers: A social justice and social movement analysis of Oregon’s Alianza Poder

I have worked in grocery stores, kitchens, farms, and food banks, both as an employee and volunteer. Currently I'm interested in learning more about preservation systems that can enhance equitable farm fresh offerings of local food pantries and food banks.

Maggie Burant smiling

Maggie Burant

Thesis title: Inhuman nature: seeking alternatives to neoliberalized nature in food systems and society

Interested in the stability of the food system in relation to climate change and climate migration, particularly in regards to agriculture. How will changing agricultural practices affect stability, resiliency and equity?

Kayla Byers standing in a field

Kayla Byers Hootsmans

Legislative Coordinator, State of Oregon

Thesis title: Not-So-Free Trade Agreements: Discursive Framings of Food Systems Benefits and Burdens around Free Trade Agreements

As a Legislative Coordinator for the State of Oregon, I engage with the food system by working on state public policy that connects Oregonians and helps communities thrive.

Brian Chau smiling

Brian Chau

Co-Founder & CEO, MycoKind

Thesis title: Food Consulting Confidential: Neoliberalism in Silicon Valley Food and Technology Culture

Lowering the barrier of entry to participate in the food system by evaluating supply chain and distribution models.


Lana Chehabeddine

Owner/ Designer and Local Food Project Coordinator

Thesis titleEmpathy for Justice: A Social Transformation of the US Food System

Lana is based in South Florida and is currently serving Florida Organic Growers as the Local Foods Project Coordinator and Assistant Programs Manager. As a freelancer on the side, Lana is empowering individuals, small business owners, and nonprofits through her consulting business, Honeybee Consulting and Design, and occasionally works with the local food policy council to educate local Florida residents on various food topics. 

Ileana Contreras Castro sitting at a table with book.

Ileana Contreras Castro

Nutritionist and writer

Thesis titleVoices and Arms: Women’s Movements and Food Sovereignty

I write children’s books that advocate for gender equality and human rights.

Joe Crumbley standing in the woods

Joe Crumbley

Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator, Snohomish Conservation District 

Thesis title: How Policy and Scientific Research Benefiting the Sugar Industry Unequally Affects Low-Income Americans

Increasing access to locally sourced nutritious food for underserved communities in Snohomish County. This involves balancing natural resource conservation and food security efforts. 

Cayley Eller smiling in front of a tree

Cayley Eller

Thesis title: Addressing the Intersection of Climate Change and Social Inequities through Food System Planning

Cayley’s research has emphasized how food system planning initiatives can address the intersection of climate change and social inequities in the food system. She aims to advance the coordination of food system planning and policies across disciplines to mitigate the aggravation and reproduction of inequities by climate instability. 

Kaitlin Fischer smiling

Kaitlin Fischer

PhD student, Rural Sociology & International Agriculture and Development, The Pennsylvania State University

Thesis title: Agricultural Apprenticeships: Reproducing Traditional Labor Relations in the Alternative Food Movement?

Kait's interests span economic sociology, governance, and globalization; agrarian change and development; food system labor; and movements for justice and sustainability. Find her contact information on the PSU website.

Stephen Garfield smiling

Stephen Garfield

Thesis title: Agency, mobility, and food: Developing a capability theory for the food system

I have been working in food preparation for a long time, but I'm moving towards work that will allow me to advance alternative food systems to increase equity, sustainability, and overall well-being of my community.

Sara Griffen smiling

Sara Griffen

Executive Director, Imperial Valley Food Bank

Thesis title: Growing Food Banks? Securing the Food Insecurity Network

Food Banker and advocate for the needs of my low-income friends and neighbors who do not have enough food to eat.

Bri Grosskopf

Bri Grosskopf

PhD Student, Human Development Graduate Group, University of California - Davis

Thesis title: A Discursive Analysis of Culturally Appropriate Food: The conceptualization and contribution to social justice

My background bridges biology and nutrition with food systems from lenses in psychology, anthropology and sociology. Current research explores the ways in which parents influence child eating behaviors.

Kathleen Hahn smiling

Kathleen Hahn, RD, LD

Clinics outpatient dietitian, Providence Portland Medical Center

Thesis title: Seeing the Matrix: An analysis of gender inequity in dietetics discourse

I work as a dietitian and I am interested in how my patients' health is impacted by race, class, and gender. I hope to work towards health equity by better understanding underlying ideologies that shape culture, policy, and our daily choices.

Elle Mari smiling

Elle Mari

Director, Urban Food Environments

Thesis title: Healthy Food on Wheels: An Exploration of Mobile Produce Markets through a Food Justice Lens

I work at University of California, San Diego Center for Community Health on urban food access initiatives. Particularly, my work focuses on supporting small neighborhood grocery markets, urban farmers, farmers' markets, food pantries, and community members in building an inclusive, equitable, and economically thriving local food landscape.

Zoe Matties smiling

Zoe Matties

Program Manager, A Rocha Canada

Thesis title: Unsettling settler food movements: An exploration of colonialism, food movements, and decolonization

I work with an environmental organization that focuses on environmental education, conservation science and sustainable food systems.

Erin McMahon smiling

Erin McMahon

Program Coordinator, UConn Community Outreach Programs

Thesis title: Empty Bellies in Fields of Plenty: A review of the U.S. federal food and nutrition programs and rural food insecurity

I have served as an AmeriCorps service member in a food justice project in CT, coordinated a farmers' market in Northeastern CT for 4 years, provided community nutrition programming to adults and children as well as worked on a Feeding America Research project related to healthcare and food bank partnerships. At UConn, in addition to other programs, I support initiatives focused on food security for students on campus as well as a program that redirects university resources to support community food security initiatives.

Katy Myers smiling

Katy Myers

Senior Planning Analyst, Providence Health & Services

Thesis title: Veganism and social justice: Applying a conceptual framework of violence

I am interested in exploring how plant-based diets can contribute to social equity. 

Faith Sareeah smiling

Faith Saeerah

Thesis title: Looking Through the Kitchen Window: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Domestic Foodwork Research and Oppression

After several years of working within the food system at universities, emergency food providers, farmers' markets and more, Faith will be pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Michigan State University. Her interests include food access and security, intersectionality, and queer theory.

Whitney Shervey smiling

Whitney Shervey

Social Services Food Program Kitchen Supervisor, Outside In

Thesis title: The Role Labor Unions and Worker Centers Play in Restaurant Industry Equality (Winner of the Outstanding MS Thesis of 2020 Award)

Whitney Shervey has been a professional cook for 20 years, volunteers as a culinary educator, and enjoys growing food for her family and friends. After years of working in the restaurant industry, she is committed to using labor organizing to transform the food industry to be more equitable.

Alaina Spencer holding a large bag of produce

Alaina Spencer

Researcher & Writer

Thesis title: Want Amid Plenty: The Capitalist Paradox of Hunger and Food Waste

I began researching and writing about food insecurity and food waste for Food Tank, which led me to a research fellowship with SIFF, where I studied regenerative agriculture. I then worked as a farmer at the Rodale Institute, a regenerative research farm. Currently, I am part of an incubation program with the City of Austin to find ways to meaningfully address food insecurity.

Miriam Stewart smiling

Miriam Stewart

Teacher, Fort Worth ISD

Thesis title: Kids Deserve the Best We Can Offer: An Analysis of School Lunch

I'm currently looking for work in the food systems field. I am teaching middle school math with the hopes of eventually transitioning to work where I can help change what kids eat in school. Find on my LinkedIn

Alexandria Stone smiling in a garden

Alexandria Stone

Program Manager, Root Cause Farm

Current FSS Student

Ali’s career has been supported by a Bachelor of Social Work and a Certificate in Horticulture. Ali brings experience and leadership in community garden management, teaching, project development, and food access advocacy using an abundance mindset and collaborative model to work towards food justice.

Kaitlyn Street smiling

Kaitlyn Street

Thesis title: Financialization in the food system: Issues of policy and discourse

I am interested in the development of policy as it relates to food and health equity in the U.S., as well as sustainable food production and the future of food in an interplanetary society. 

Mike Tesfaye smiling

Mika Tesfaye

Food Farmacy Director, Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Office

Thesis title: More Than Your Nutrition 101: Exploring Systemic Causes of Childhood Obesity

In collaboration with Alameda County and the Deputy Sheriffs' Activities League, I am working to advance their Community Capitals Policing Framework (CCPF) to progress Food as Medicine by supporting local farmers, initiating Food Recovery efforts across the county with local schools, wholesale grocery stores, and restaurants while creating a local food economy by managing a small incubation kitchen for small business caterers and entrepreneurs.

Grace Wilson smiling

Grace I. Wilson

Director of Communications, Hero Arts

Thesis title: The Curious Silence of Gender Inequity

Professional snacker, champion of toddler food exploration, avid volunteer, active at home grower and purveyor of all things edible.