Solutions-oriented research on food & agricultural systems
Understanding how to grow and eat food better.
I am a geographer-ecologist interested in all things food and nature. Food for me is what connects us in the most fundamental ways with nature. We depend on ecosystems, and we impact ecosystems through the way we produce, prepare and eat our food. We need water to irrigate our fields, bees to pollinate our orchards, soil to root our crops, and air to allow cattle to breathe and crops to grow. What we eat also defines us as societies and as individuals. Food defines our health, our cultures, our communities, and it defines our environmental footprint. Right now there are many things that are wrong in the way we grow and eat our food. The fertilizer we use pollutes our rivers, lakes and oceans, the land we use for agriculture destroys forests and wetlands, the tractors we use compact our soils, the pesticides we apply kill beneficial plants and insects. While the food we eat often makes us sick and obese, or does not provide sufficient nutrients to allow our children to grow healthily.
I am interested in understanding how to do food better: How can we create a world where everyone has sufficient and nutritious food they enjoy eating? How can we produce our food without destroying the very natural resources that food production depends on? How can we create a food system that is more just and more sustainable?
There are many purported answers to these questions out there. Paleo! Organic! GMO! Vegan! Local! Global! But what do we actually know about these supposed solutions? Debates around these issues are often very passionate, but typically not sufficiently informed by good science. In my research I try to assess these debates as objectively as I can, using rigorous scientific tools, to help us make sense of different claims, and in the end to allow us to grow and eat food in a better way.
May, 2021: New job! Excited to start a new position as Juniorprofessor for the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart - made possible by the Robert Bosch Juniorprofessorship 2021.
March, 2021: One of the I think most important (and fun!) papers I have contributed to is out - Creating leadership collectives for sustainability transformations.
January, 2019: I have a new job yet again! :-) I am joining the Environmental Geography group at the Institute of Environmental Studies (IVM) at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam as an Assistant Professor in Land Use and Food System Dynamics.
September, 2017: I have a new job! I am now working with the Land Use Change Research Group located on the Campus Alpin of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in the beautiful Bavarian Alps.
March, 2017: Our new paper on the "context-dependent performance of organic agriculture" is out! Key message: organic agriculture matters, but maybe not in the way you think.
January, 2017: Our paper on organic regulations is out! Read more about it under RESEARCH. Key message: organic regulations need to do a better job at incorporating environmental best practices.
May, 2016: I am on TV! Talking with Steve Paikin on The Agenda, TV Ontario about organic agriculture. Watch it under IN THE PRESS.