Presenter biographies

Keynote speakers

Corinna Hawkes

Professor Corinna Hawkes is Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City University London. She has worked with international agencies, governments, NGOs, think tanks and universities at the international level, as well as nationally and locally in the UK, United States and Brazil. A regular advisor to governments, international agencies and NGOs, her specialism is the role of food systems policies in what we eat and how they can be levered for positive impact. Corinna serves as Co-Chair of the Independent Expert Group of the Global Nutrition Report, an international report tracking progress in malnutrition in all its forms across the globe. She sits on the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems, the Lancet Commission on Obesity and the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food).

Corinna has worked for the World Health Organization (Geneva), the International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington DC) and in 2009-2010, held a fellowship at the School of Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Between 2012 and 2015 she was Head of Policy and Public Affairs at World Cancer Research Fund International, where she established the NOURISHING Policy Framework for healthy diets and obesity. Consultancy clients have included the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the World Bank and the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition.

Laura Lengnick

Laura Lengnick is an award-winning soil scientist who has explored agricultural sustainability for more than 30 years as a researcher, policy-maker, educator, and farmer.  Her work in sustainable farming systems was nationally-recognized with a USDA Secretary’s Honor Award and she contributed to the 3rd National Climate Assessment as a lead author of the USDA report Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation. Laura led the academic program in sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson College for more than a decade, where she also served as the Director of Sustainability Education, conducted research in sustainability assessment and holistic management, led energy descent action planning, and developed an innovative sustainable dining policy for the college.  In 2015, Laura left the college to launch Cultivating Resilience, LLC, a private consulting firm offering ecosystem-based climate risk management services to civil society, business, and government.  She is a Vice President at Climate Optimize, Inc, and serves as an advisor to the USDA Climate Science Learning Network, NC Adapt, and the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance.  Laura holds an adjunct faculty position in Horticulture at North Carolina State University.  Her 2015 award-winning book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate (New Society Publishers), examines climate change, resilience and the future of food through the adaptation stories of 25 nationally-recognized sustainable farmers and ranchers located across the U.S. You can learn more about Laura and her work at  


Socio-Cultural Perspectives on the Food System

Elinor Brett - Linking Informal Food Vending and Food Security in Urban Bangladesh

Elinor Brett is a recent graduate from the MA Food Studies programme at the American University of Rome. Now in its second year, this social sciences programme explores policies for sustainable production and consumption of food, at regional, national and global levels. She undertook the research for her MA thesis in Bangladesh, during an internship with the United Nations Development Programme. Prior to studying at AUR, Elinor worked in a wide variety of roles in the food industry – editing cookery books, selling Greek food at a London street market, and running a small ice cream-making business. Her undergraduate degree was in Modern History at the University of Oxford.

Brian Young - Unequal Food: Paradoxes of Development in Bhutan

Brian Young is currently an MSc candidate in Migration Studies at the University of Oxford. He holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of California at San Diego and an MA from Dartmouth College. Brian focuses on the impact of industrialization and development on local societies and traditions, and he has explored this topic during several months of fieldwork in Bhutan. He has also done fieldwork in Zimbabwe on cultural responses to faltering development projects. 

Sabine Parrish - Specialty Coffee Pilgrims: Consuming Production on Origin Trips

Sabine is a DPhil candidate in anthropology, and her research explores the social practises around specialty coffee drinking in Brazil, a hybrid coffee producer-consumer nation. Her focus is the ways in which narratives and experiences of specialty coffee consumption changes when a global commodity is traded and consumed at a wholly local level. Her master’s research focused on the ritual space of high-level barista competitions, and she has been involved in the specialty coffee industry from making to marketing coffee for a decade, currently as a staff writer for the specialty coffee magazine Standart.

Jeanne Kessira - Negotiating Consumption in Rural-Local Culinary Tourism

Jeanne Kessira is a master’s student at SOAS, University of London obtaining an MA in the Anthropology of Food. She did her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, double majoring in History and Socio-Cultural Food Studies. Jeanne wrote her undergraduate thesis on Ferran Adrià after having lived and conducted research in Barcelona in 2015. She has worked in a variety of food-related domains, from doing research as an intern with a youth food education organization in Brooklyn, to working in the kitchen of a hipster ice cream parlor in the East Village, to supervising teenagers and teaching them bread-baking as a camp counselor on a biodynamic farm in upstate New York.

Contextualizing Food Systems: Climate, Energy, Water

Catherine Arnold - A water-food-energy nexus evaluation of climate change and food security in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

Catherine Arnold currently studies MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management at the School of Geography and the Environment. She studied a BA in International Relations and Chinese at the University of Exeter from 2012-2016 including an exchange year to Tsinghua University Beijing. Catherine’s undergraduate thesis focused on the sustainability of Beijing’s water sourcing and usage, exploring ‘virtual water’ trade approaches to agriculture. Catherine has explored the agricultural implications for water-scarce states and takes a novel approach to examining contemporary risks to supply-chains.

Prof. Amir M. Sharif  & Prof. Zahir Irani - The Food-Water-Energy Nexus: Archetypes within a Circular Economy

Professor Sharif is a professor of Operations Management at Brunel Business School. He has previously held posts such as the Interim Head of School and Director of MBA Programmes (including leading and co-ordinating major business school accreditation efforts). He has 10 years of experience working for and consulting to corporations such as JPMorgan, UBS, KPMG, Sony and the BBC in a variety of programme and project management roles.

Professor Irani is the Dean of the Faculty of Management and Law at the University of Bradford. Prior to this role, he held several senior management positions at Brunel University London, the most recent of which being the Dean of College (Business, Arts and Social Sciences - CBASS) which he setup following an organisational restructuring from eight Schools into three Colleges.

Bernard Soubry's - Not The Future, But Close: using scenarios to bastion food systems against climate change

Bernard Soubry's research focuses on climate change and small-scale farms. He's interested in participatory methodologies which help build adaptive capacity within systems; the economics of ecosystems services; and cultural systems of climate knowledge. Before his work with the Environmental Change Institute, he worked as a small-scale market gardening apprentice near Canada's Annapolis Valley, where his main interests included chicken-wrangling and heirloom tomatoes.

Redesigning food systems – Production and beyond

Richard Williams & Paul Gudonis - The case for vertical farms

Richard is a senior coffee trader and consultant at Falcon Coffees LTD. Coming from a farming family in New Zealand he is interested in finding new ways to make farming profitable that do not harm the environment or the people who do the work. Richard’s MBA research, done in tandem with Paul Gudonis, focused on optimal business models for vertical farming with consideration for the triple bottom line.

Paul is the President of FTSE250 satellite communications company; Inmarsat’s Enterprise business unit. With a passion for sustainability of water, energy sources and food production, Paul is interested in developing business models and processes that support sustainability.

Louise Denham - Beyond Binaries in Bristol's Community Gardens

Louise is currently working in communications with Oxford-based NGO Proforest. The research that she will be discussing at the forum will be conducted in affiliation with the University of the West of England.

Emilio Travieso - Redesigning Food Systems: Transformative Social Innovation in Chiapas, Mexico

Emilio is a DPhil student at the Oxford Department of International Development, supervised by Dr Laura Rival.  He does research in partnership with organizations that are creating more sustainable, healthy and equitable food systems.  His goal is to understand their vision, their potential and their challenges, as well as the implications of their work for wider food systems change.  AB in Social Studies (Harvard), MA in Philosophical Resources (Fordham) and Sociology (New School), STB in Theology (CES da Companhia de Jesus, Brazil).  He is a Jesuit priest, and has been engaged in social justice, education and sustainable development work in several countries.

Alice Bischof – ‘Cities without Hunger’s’ Community Gardens

Following her Bachelor’s in Agricultural Sciences at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, she is currently reading for the MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford. For a study project on urban gardening, in 2014, Alice went to the city of São Paulo, Brazil. This is where she got to know the work of the NGO CIDADES SEM FOME (CITIES WITHOUT HUNGER). Back in Germany, she founded STÄDTE OHNE HUNGER (CITIES WITHOUT HUNGER) Germany together with a colleague, an association in support of the Brazilian NGO in 2015. As the organisation's vice chairperson, Alice is responsible for science, scientific co-operations and organisational development. 

Opportunities in Oxfordshire’s food system

Chesta Théguerrai (Dot) – Abundance, urban fruit harvesting project

Peter Lefort

Peter has been working with Oxfordshire's community food projects for six years, including helping to set up the Oxford Food Surplus Cafe and grassroots food poverty research project Feeding the Gaps. He is also supporting food projects and pioneers nationally through Eden Project Communities, focusing on the social and psychological components of food insecurity.

David Haynes 

David’s family have been in dairy farming for many generations, and him, his whole life. Although not certified organic, they farm virtually organically, and like to do the best for their cows, which are allowed to choose what and when they do it!

Aaron Hanson  - CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

After studying PPE at Mansfield College, Aaron has just started an M.Phil in Comparative Government, with a research focus on agricultural policy in post-industrial countries. Aaron has experience of agriculture and different food systems at different levels: he has volunteered in a walled kitchen garden, a community farm running a CSA scheme, and farms supplying both directly and through retailers. At the policy level, he co-presented on agricultural and food policy at a NI Green Party seminar last September, as well as giving a similar talk to an undergraduate society here and attending the 2017 Oxford Real Farming Conference.

Engaging communities to tackle food poverty and promote sustainable diets in Oxford.

Frances Hansford

Frances is an independent researcher with experience in development programmes, projects and operations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, USA, and the UK. She has worked in an international NGO, a major private foundation, a large private consulting firm, a UK charity, and as an independent consultant. Her interests include food systems, gender, and development issues

Kate Poland

Kate is Founder and co-director of Cordwainers Grow, a social enterprise in London. She has run workshops embedding English and literacy into making radio, TV and online news reports with teenagers. She also runs community workshops teaching dyeing with plants and other garden-related subjects. She has extensive experience in producing original journalism for BBC radio, TV, online and on demand outlets. 

Photos of Student Fieldwork