University of California students Anna Rios and Conor McCabe have been selected as Global Food Initiative fellows for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources during the 2021-22 school year. Their projects will involve working with campus-based academics, UC Cooperative Extension professionals, and staff to conduct research and communications to improve food security, nutrition and agriculture sustainability for communities across California.
Rios is a senior in molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. Rios is originally from the small rural town of Williams, about two hours north of the Bay Area. In her home community, she noticed the prevalence of packaged and processed foods, along with health burdens present. Coming into college, Rios had no interest in research, but this slowly shifted as she gained more exposure to research through her involvement with Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute. In this upcoming year, she will work on two GFI projects which focus on improving nutrition in infants and school-aged children through nutritious school meals.
“As a first-generation college student and daughter of immigrants, I’m looking to take the findings of my research work to benefit not one or two individuals, but rather multiple generations through program and policy change and reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases in my hometown and communities across California,” Rios said.
McCabe is a Ph.D. student in animal science at UC Davis. His research focuses on the intersection of agriculture and the environment by reducing the environmental impact of intensive cattle production. Every part of McCabe’s past has focused on Extension and agriculture programs from raising pigs in 4-H to show at the county fair to talking with decisionmakers on Capitol Hill for funding for agriculture research and Extension programs. His project for the GFI will focus on strategic communications on food-related issues for underserved communities.
“I’m strongly interested in career opportunities in food and agriculture and its relationship with policy implications,” said McCabe. “This fellowship is sure to serve as a key experience to continue my engagement into positively impacting California communities.”
The Global Food Initiative was founded in 2014 under then UC President Janet Napolitano with the goal of conquering the question of how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population that is expected reach 8 billion by 2025. Fellows across the 10 UC campuses and Agriculture and Natural Resources work on projects or internships that focus on food issues. Participants receive professional development, tours of food and agriculture sites throughout California, and a $3,000 annual stipend to support their education experience.