Past and Present Members of the Oxford Food Forum

Present Members (2016-17)

Monica Alarcon

Monica Alarcon

Monica comes from a disciplinary background of Anthropology and Geography from Florida International University in Miami, FL. During her undergraduate, she also engaged in a certificate program for Agroecology where she undertook a research project to better understand the benefits and challenges faced by various stakeholders in the Local Food System of Miami-Dade County, FL. Using mixed methods, she connected with producers, distributors, market managers, policy councils and local food consumers to get an idea of to what extent and why they choose to engage in this system and what could be better. She is currently completing a Masters of Science in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance in the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment. Monica plans to continue working with food systems.


Tanvi Agrawal

Tanvi AgrawalTanvi Agrawal is studying for an MSc in Environmental Change and Management at the School of Geography and the Environment. She first became ‘academically’ conscious of food systems, when she spent a summer break volunteering as a farm hand in a community permaculture garden. Her interest in the food, thus piqued, grew during her undergraduate dissertation, which focussed on the impacts of the existing vegetable supply chain and analysed the possibility of a modified system centred around urban agriculture. She is currently excited about a project where she will be working with a scheduled tribe community in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India to come up with a portfolio of underutilised, climate resilient crops that can fill the nutrition gaps in their diets.


Alice Bischof

Following her Bachelor’s in Agricultural Sciences at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, Alice is currently studying the MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford. Understanding and Building Linkages Across the Food System describes her motivation for getting engaged in the conference as well as her personal and professional interests: “In order to transform our food system toward more sustainability, I consider as crucial connecting its different stakeholders. We need to get involved in a common debate about questions of the production, the manufacturing and the consumption of our food.”  


Abigail Bok

Abigail Bok

Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Abigail Bok is currently pursuing an MSc in Geography at Oxford in the “Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance” course. Her interest in sustainable food systems has led her to study everything from the nitty-gritty of production to the socio-culture factors underpinning food system relationships. Abigail learned the hands-on skills of sustainable vegetable production and “community-supported agriculture” program management working on a farm in Vermont. Her interest in food systems led her to China in 2015-2016, where she undertook a ten-month independent research project as a Fulbright Scholar in Guangzhou, investigating emergent grassroots efforts to build an alternative “safe” food system.


Yasmin Siddique-Parkes

Yasmin is an MSc student reading Nature, Society and Environmental Governance at St. Peter’s College. She received her BA in History & Politics at Lancaster University in 2014. Following that, she moved to China for two years where she worked as an English teacher, research analyst, and volunteer for an environmental NGO. Her main interest is in sustainable farming and she is excited to see what can come out of the Food Forum bringing together different groups who are striving to achieve this!



Helene Schulze

Completing her masters degree in Nature Society and Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford, Helene Schulze is particularly interested in the intersections between food, agriculture and social justice. Her research and activism has focussed on racialized, classed and gendered access to healthy and sustainable food in cities of the global North. She studies the potential of urban agriculture in the establishment of alternative urban agro-ecological systems and the novel communities which emerge in such spaces.



Tabitha Serle

Tabitha Serle

Tabitha is currently studying for a masters in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance, having previously completed a degree in BA geography at Durham University. Her research interests emerged from a concern with how food waste and hunger can be allowed to coexist. She completed an undergraduate dissertation in bin raiding, the practice of reclaiming food thrown away as waste, and using it for individual or group consumption. She is doing her masters dissertation with the Oxford Food Bank, looking into how the unique network between the food bank, the charities they provide with food and the clients of these charities comes together (and, at times, falls apart). In her spare time Tabitha enjoys rowing, cooking and travelling, which go together surprisingly well! She is very much looking forward to the forum. 



Past Members

Alice Chautard

Alice holds a MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management from Oxford University with research interest into sustainable water use for food production in water scarce regions. Her past research looked at farmers' vulnerability and resilience to drought in the Segura Basin (Spain's driest basin). In particular she studied the role of irrigation community water sharing rules in the face of mounting water scarcity. She is currently working for the School of Geography and the Environment, and has recently worked as a researcher for the Earthwatch Institute's.






Katherine French

DPhil Candidate, Plant Sciences

Katherine's research focuses on the role of humans in creating and maintaining grassland biodiversity and the plant genetic resources (forage varieties, crop wild relatives, and rare plants) that inhabit these systems. More broadly she is interested in how culture can inform conservation, sustainable land use, and food security.




Franziska Gaupp

DPhil Candidate, Environmental Change Institute 

Franziska is interested in global food security and agricultural risks. She develops probabilistic models of joint droughts and joint crop failures in the major food producing areas in the world. 








Christopher Sisca

MSc Social Anthropology

Christopher researches the influence food has on people beyond mere nutritional value and how food influences human socialization. Currently, his research examines Italy, particularly the region of Calabria, and how the culinary traditions along with the crafts of those traditions construct both personal and national identities, how these traditions evolve over time, and how they impact Calabrian immigrant societies. In addition, he focuses on the conservation and education of empirical food knowledge (both cultivation and cooking) and sustainable food practices.






Annelie Bernhart

MSc Candidate, Biodiversity, Conservation and Management

Annelie’s interest lies in agro-ecology and socio-cultural values that drive agrobiodiversity conservation. She has worked for 2.5 years in northeast India where she was involved in research projects that aim to understand the link between traditional knowledge, food security and food sovereignty of indigenous peoples. Annelie’s current research interest lies in how we can form knowledge discourses through interdisciplinary approaches and what mechanisms in research conform or transform to the current pre-dominant productivity thinking.




Emily Bugden

Emily Bugden

MSc Candidate, Nature, Science, and Environmental Policy

Emily's interest in sustainable food systems developed during her time living and working on a farm in rural North East Brazil. It was an area reclaimed from a single industrial farm engaged in monoculture maize production, and returned to families who claimed an historic connection to the land. They now farm the land, using organic practices and techniques that promote biodiversity and polyculture, and sell some crops at a small agroecological market in the town. Since this experience, Emily has been most interested in the relationship between food and social justice, and has developed this interest further in the UK working as fundraising officer for food waste and poverty charity, FoodCycle.




Anna Feeney

Junior Science Writer at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)

Anna began working at CEH after completing her MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford. She is particularly interested in the contribution of meat and dairy production to climate change, and is also a volunteer writer for the Food Climate Research Network. 





Rachel Friedman

MPhil Candidate, Geography and the Environment

Rachel comes to the topic of food security from an interdisciplinary environmental science perspective. Having completed her first year in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management, Rachel's MPhil research focuses on the impacts of climate change on women in a Ghanaian cocoa farming system. She is particularly interested in plausible strategies for adapting anticipated change and the contextual factors that enhance resilience. With a background in tropical ecology, she is also intrigued by agricultural management and systems that support ecosystem services.


Cory Rodgers

DPhil Candidate, Medical Anthropology

Cory's current research is focusing on the ways that nutrition, health and well-being enter the discourse about the future of pastoralism in East Africa, with attention to both pastoralists themselves and governmental, international and development institutions






Megan Weissner

MSc Candidate, Nature, Society and Environmental Policy  

Meg comes to Oxford following several years working in the arts, outdoor education, and urban agriculture in New York City and Baltimore. Her past work has focused on the deployment of environmental narratives and the natural sciences in radical politics, and on connections between luxury eco-consumption and cultural appropriation. Her current interests lie in sustainability discourse, urban inequality and urban livability. 



Luke Wonneck

MSc Candidate, Nature, Society and Environmental Policy  

Although Luke cannot pin down exactly why he became interested in sustainable agriculture, he often attributes it to reading ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ by Michael Pollan, becoming involved in the University of Calgary Community Garden and immensely appreciating the taste of fresh vegetables. His work has focused on exploring forms of agriculture that allow for, encourage and respond to wildness. He is also interested in understanding how everyday practices of farmers can limit or open up opportunities for transforming agriculture.



Serena Stein

Serena founded the Oxford Food Security Forum in 2010, and has served as executive organizer of the Forum's inaugural and second annual conferences at Oxford University.

While completing an MPhil degree in International Development at Oxford, Serena conducted research on urban food security in Maputo, Mozambique and continues to be involved in the study of urban food systems in the Southern African region. She received the Zeminides Award for Human Welfare after presenting her master's dissertation at the Green Templeton College Human Welfare Conference in 2012.

Currently, Serena is a doctoral student of anthropology at Princeton University where she is a Princeton Brazil Scholar and investigates questions of food security, social entrepreneurship and development partnerships taking place among Brazil and Lusophone African countries.


Tamma Carleton

Oxford degrees: MSc. Environmental Change & Management; MSc. Economics for Development

Role in the forum: Two-time (2012 & 2013) co-coordinator of the annual conference

Tamma focuses on food security challenges in light of accelerating environmental change. Thus far, her research has sought to identify climate change adaptation solutions within complex food systems that acknowledge the multiplicity of stressors that face developing world subsistence farmers. Her fieldwork in Kenya focuses on how rainfall variability interacts with price volatility in local markets, and she researches production and postharvest solutions that may allow farmers to respond to both of these pressures.

She uses economic simulation models to predict adoption rates of new postharvest technologies in rural Kenya, while using qualitative research methods to ground her models and uncover systemic feedbacks within local, national and regional food systems.

She is also currently researching the mechanisms through which food price shocks are transmitted between spatially distant markets in Tanzania. In this work she uses time series econometrics to understand the extent to which arbitrage links food markets in Tanzania, and to uncover the determinants of market integration throughout the nation. Better knowledge of market integration in nations like Tanzania, where transport costs are high and agriculture is tied to increasingly erratic rainfall, will be critical to developing solutions to food security challenges under climate change.


Oday Kamal

Oday Kamal has worked on food matters over the past six years. He has collaborated with UN agencies, government bodies, academia and restaurants to resolve some of the more pressing issues underlying food security around the globe. He is currently working with the Egyptian government to improve the country’s bread subsidy scheme. Oday is reading for an MPhil in Middle Eastern studies.

Rajiv Narayan

Rajiv (MSc Candidate, Medical Anthropology) comes to the topic of food security through obesity and nutrition policy. In past years he's worked on an urban farm in Milwaukee and completed research projects on obesity legislation in Argentina, food stamps in California, the racial dynamics of obesity policy in Southern States, and fat acceptance activism in California. Rajiv is also interested in representations of food and obesity, an interest he's explored through contributions to Upworthy, The Huffington Post, and Policy Mic. His current research concerns the conception and monitoring of goals in public health campaigns.




Sara Nawaz

Sara organized the 2013 lunchtime talks for the forum and co-organized the 2013 annual conference. Sara completed her MPhil in Development Studies in the Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House). Her research focuses on social movements and food sovereignty in Afro-Colombian communities.





Laura Pereira

Laura Pereira completed her DPhil in Geography and Environmental Science at Oxford in 2012 and she holds an MSc from the same institution as well as a BSc (Hons) from the University of the Witwatersrand.  Having spent a year as a Giorgio Ruffolo post-doctoral fellow in the Sustainability Science Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, she is currently based at the University of Cape Town as part of the Bioeconomy research group in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences. She is also working with the Africa Climate Development Initiative.

Her research focuses on innovation and adaptation in the food system under environmental change, with a specific emphasis on the role of linking production and consumption patterns in emerging economies like Brazil and South Africa. Currently, she is focussing on the potential for orphan crops to play a significant role in a transformation to a more sustainable and equitable food system. She is one of the original members of the Food Security Forum and formed part of the executive team that organized the first graduate Oxford Food Security conference in 2012. She now has an advisory role on the committee.


Ben Turndorf

Ben completed his MSc in Modern Chinese Studies in 2012. His dissertation focused on the future of food security in China. As of 2013, he is working as a baker at an artisan bakery in Oxford, as well as part time for a startup, Smart Agriculture Analytics (SAA), which provides sustainable agriculture investment research on China for a foreign clientele.









Photos of Student Fieldwork