Symposium on American Food Resilience (Part 1) released

Part 1 of the Symposium on American Food Resilience (13 articles) has now been published in the September issue of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (  Part 2 (14 articles) will be in the December issue.

The entire collection is exciting in the diversity of its coverage, as experts on various aspects of the food system draw upon their disparate perspectives to throw light on a single high-stakes theme – the security of our food supply. A major goal of the Symposium is to frame this theme in a way that points to what scientists, teachers, and other professionals can do through research, education, community action, or other means to make the food system more resilient.

Description of the Symposium on American Food Resilience

The resilience of our food system is declining as global demand for food approaches limits for sustainable production. Difficult-to-predict disturbances such as severe influenza pandemic or large-scale crop failure could disrupt food production or distribution severely enough to set in motion a breakdown of food supply. The risk of serious shortfalls, whether on a local scale or larger scale, shorter period or longer period, is of genuine concern. Cities are particularly vulnerable. Decline in food storage throughout the system has eroded the capacity to buffer perturbations.

It’s difficult to get a clear grip on this topic because the food system is so complex, and failure could take forms never seen before. It’s easy for wishful thinking to prevail, but the stakes are high. The Symposium on American Food Resilience addresses the following questions:

  • What are the main lines of vulnerability in the food system?
  • What are leverage points for reducing the risks and improving the capacity to cope with breakdowns?
  • What is already being done by government, civil society, and the private sector to reduce the risks?
  • What can scientists, teachers, and other professionals do through research, education, community action, or other means to make the food system more resilient?

The following are titles of the articles in the Symposium on American Food Resilience (Part 1 and Part 2):

Continue reading

Posted in Ag Policy, Climate Change, Food Justice / Environmental Justice, Industrial Agriculture, Organic Agriculture, Publications, Resources, Topics, Urban Agriculture | Leave a comment

National Inst of Food and Ag is hiring a Plant Systems Scientist

National Institute of Food and Agriculture   Institute of Food Production and Sustainability   Division of Plant Systems – Production   Biological Science Specialist (National Program Leader (Agronomy))

Closing date:  Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vacancy Announcement Number:  NIFA-S15N-0043 is open to all U.S. Citizens.  You may use the following link to view/apply for this position:

This is an exciting opportunity for someone with expertise in production agriculture in general or weed science, precision agriculture, big data etc.  The closing date is Sept 17 so potential applicants should initiate their application process as soon as possible.

For addition questions, please contact Mary Peet (, 202-401-4202) or any of us from the Plant Systems-Production Division. Salary range is $90,823 to $158,700/year with the potential to hire at grade 13, 14, or 15.

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Tom Vilsack at UIUC September 10th

Start getting your questions ready. On September 10th, our Department of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences will welcome Tom Vilsack to speak on “The role of public research universities in addressing international food security.”

We’d like to encourage folks to turn out for this event – and come prepared with some challenging questions. While over his time in the USDA Vilsack has made some encouraging gestures toward food justice (including acknowledging the history of institutionalized racism in the USDA), in other ways it’s clear that he’s firmly in the pocket of corporate agri-business.

A selection of his positions include:
• Opposition to the inclusion of sustainability considerations in the drafting of nutritional guidelines
Playing polyanna on bird flu, and ignoring the systemic problems of this latest outbreak is but a symptom (while at the same time, recent reports suggest that under Vilsack’s watch, Cargill may be about to receive clearance to export poultry from China to the US)
And in general and overall, consistently advocating for corporate agri-business, against science, against the environment, and against the people’s right to know what’s on their plates.

Get your questions ready, and hope to see you there!

Event Details:

Thursday, September 10, 2015
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. with a reception to follow
Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 601 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana

Tom Vilsack serves as the Nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture. As leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Vilsack is working hard to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the tremendous innovation of rural America. In more than six years at the Department, Vilsack has worked to implement President Obama’s agenda to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last. USDA has supported America’s farmers, ranchers and growers who are driving the rural economy forward, provided food assistance to millions of Americans, carried out record conservation efforts, made record investments in our rural communities and helped provide a safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply for the American people.

Prior to his appointment, Vilsack served two terms as the Governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.


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Upcoming Events with the Savanna Institute

The Savanna Institute has a great lineup of field days and workshop coming up. Check out the flyers below and visit their events page for more info!



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5-Year PhD project on Local Food at University of Maine

The University of Maine is hiring a PhD student to serve a central role in a new five-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation on cooperation in the local food industry. Topically, the project focuses on uncovering patterns of cooperation within and between the organizations that make up the local food industry in Maine and Northeast. The student will perform this research through quantitative models and statistical analysis of the evolution of human culture and cooperation. The assistantship is designed for students with strong quantitative, analytical and communication skills who are interested in developing our understanding the dynamics of human behavior, cooperation, culture and organizational evolution as they pertain to environmental management.

The graduate student will work with Dr. Waring to conduct behavioral experiments, collect and analyze survey data, build and test new theoretical models, and to participate in outreach endeavors in the local food sector in Maine and beyond. The position is intended to prepare a PhD with expertise in social-ecological systems, and evolutionary approaches to human behavior, with a focus on environmental management and local food.

The assistantship is supported by the primarily by the National Science Foundation, as well as the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions and the School of Economics. The Mitchell Center pursues an integrative research program with strong stakeholder partnerships to generate improved solutions to intersecting ecological, social, and economic challenges in and beyond Maine.

A degree (prefer masters) in ecology, evolution or environmental science, economics, anthropology, sociology, social psychology or a related field; excellent GPA and GRE scores; strong quantitative, analytical and communication skills; programming experience; research experience; mature, organized, professional and courteous, and the ability to work independently and in collaborative teams. Support includes a fellowship of $22-25,000/yr for four years, a tuition waiver, and a subsidy for health insurance.

Application Procedures:
Contact Dr. Waring by email:, with subject line “Cooperation in Local Food Doctoral Assistantship.”

Please include:
1.  A letter detailing your interest in this position,
2.  A CV or resume,
3.  Scanned GRE scores and transcripts,
4.  Names, phone numbers, and email addresses of three references.

Review of materials will continue until the position is filled.

Tim Waring
Assistant Professor, School of Economics
Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine
phone: (207) 581-3157, fax: (207) 581-4278

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International Rescue Committee seeks Farm Coordinator in Salt Lake City

The International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City is looking for a Farm Coordinator who knows the day-to-day challenge of vegetable production. But just as crucial, we’re looking for an enthusiastic somebody who could see themselves as a mentor, teacher and guide for the 20+ refugee farmers who work the urban incubator farm we manage. In this full-time year round position you’d be working for our New Roots farming program and managing vegetable production from the early spring through the fall. Then, after mid-October, you’d help craft and teach classroom workshops on production, marketing, record-keeping and all the other nuts and bolts that make farm businesses successful. You’d also be critical to expanding New Roots onto additional sites and into the lives of new participants. Follow this link for additional information To apply please submit your resume and a brief cover letter that includes why you are interested in working with a training program for refugee and immigrant farmers, a summary of your agriculture experience, and your salary requirements and timeline for starting a new position.  This position is full-time, year round, and offers competitive compensation based on experience as well as an excellent benefits package.


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Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism in the Food System


In late May 2015, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems published a new annotated bibliography, Structural racism present in the U.S. Food System

The resource provides useful background reading to advocates, scholars, and anyone else working to bring about a more sustainable and just food system in the United States.

We received a number of comments and suggestions on the bibliography since it first appeared. The revised version (URL link below)  includes additional citations that reflect feedback regarding the initial May 2015 version.

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PhD project in soil science in Munich

Formation and composition of soil microaggregates as explored by their elemental and isotopic label composition

We offer a 3-year PhD-position at the Chair of Soil Science of the Technische Universität München ( / within the DFG-funded research unit MAD Soil. The group of Prof. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner is located at Freising-Weihenstephan, nearby Munich in southern Bavaria, Germany. The announced position includes a salary according to TV-L E13 (65%), corresponding to the German TV-L system (Tarifvertrag für den Öffentlichen Dienst der Länder). The starting date is October 1st 2015.


In this project we aim to elucidate governing processes and mechanisms for the formation of soil microaggregates by means of the analysis of elemental/isotopic composition and the three-dimensional structural association of organic and mineral soil components at submicron resolution. We will specifically focus our approach on the analytical power of NanoSIMS in order to elucidate soil microaggregate structure and composition. This spatially explicit data will be supplemented by bulk scale measurements, such as 13C-NMR. We intend to reveal the dynamics of soil microaggregate formation and turnover by applying our analytical approach to various natural soil materials. The data collected will enable us to define relevant statistical relationships regarding the functions of soils as being carbon sinks, habitats for microorganisms and the water storage and transport function.

This position gives an opportunity to use cutting edge technologies, such as NanoSIMS and AFM, in an internationally renowned group focusing on the fate and stabilisation of soil organic matter.


Applicants should hold a M. Sc. degree in physics, chemistry, geosciences, geoecology, biology, environmental sciences or a related discipline. Candidates with experience in microscopic techniques like secondary ion spectrometry, epi-fluorescence, scanning and/or transmission electron microscopy (SEM, TEM) are highly welcome. Experience with sample preparation and (geo-) statistical modelling approaches will be highly beneficial. The candidate should be highly motivated, team-oriented and willing to work with advanced analytical techniques.


A single pdf-file including letter of motivation, a CV, the contact data of 2 referees, and a statement of research interests should be sent by email indicating [PhD-Mad Soil] in the subject line to until August 7th 2015. Evaluation of the applications will start soon after the deadline. For questions concerning your application feel free to contact

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U of British Columbia: tenure-track agroecology position

Originally posted May 25 2015 at UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

The University of British Columbia is seeking outstanding candidates for a full-time, tenure track position at the rank of Assistant Professor.  The position will be affiliated with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the UBC Farm, within the Applied Biology Program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (Vancouver campus).  The anticipated start date is January 1, 2016.

Applicants should have a PhD, postdoctoral or equivalent experience, and expertise and demonstrated ability for outstanding research in the agricultural sciences (e.g. agroecology, soil science, plant science, animal science, aquaculture).  They should have the potential for excellence in teaching at both the graduate and the undergraduate levels and be able to attract excellent graduate students.  They should also have the ability to complement our teaching program, and the potential to fit synergistically into strong research clusters by possessing a suitable disciplinary background and enthusiasm for cooperating across disciplines.  Principal duties of the successful candidate will be (1) to develop a thriving, extramurally funded research program, and (2) to excel in undergraduate teaching and the training of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

How to Apply

Applicants are invited to send:

  1. a curriculum vitae,
  2. names of four references (including addresses, e- mails and telephone numbers),
  3. brief statements (1-2 pages each) describing
    1. (a) a five-year research plan and
    2. (b) teaching philosophy and evidence of potential for effective teaching.

The application package should be sent to the Chair of the Selection Committee c/o Melanie Train, email: (electronic submission of one complete PDF file is required).

The deadline for submission is July 15, 2015.  Enquiries by telephone (604-822-3105), fax (604- 822-6394) or e-mail are welcome.

About the Applied Biology Program

In the Applied Biology Program, our researchers apply principles of biology and other life sciences to the responsible and sustainable use of land, plants and animals, especially in food production systems.  The work of the Program focuses primarily on food security and safety, environmental sustainability, and the ethical management of animals and resources.  Faculty members of the Program emphasize (1) active, student-centred learning, (2) synergistic research clusters, (3) strategic thinking, including environmental and social sustainability, and (4) engaging with the broader community.

UBC is located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, which is regularly listed as one of the world’s most livable cities. UBC consistently ranks as one of the world’s top research universities.

UBC hires on the basis of merit and is committed to employment equity. All qualified persons are encouraged to apply.  We welcome applications from members of visible minority groups, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and others with the skills and knowledge to engage productively with diverse communities.  In accordance with Canadian immigration requirements, priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.

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Agroecology Post-Doc position at Montana State

Post Doctoral Researcher, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences and Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology,

Montana State University-Bozeman, Montana



Starting Date: Negotiable, preferred start date is 9/1/15.

Salary: Commensurate with experience and qualifications. Group medical, dental and optical insurance plan; TIAA/CREF, vacation and sick leave.

Duties & Responsibilities: We seek a highly motivated candidate to help coordinate research assessing 1) the re-integration of crop and livestock production in organic cropping systems, and 2) the role of mite-transmitted wheat viruses in mediating crop-weed competitive interactions. The successful candidate will be part of two multidisciplinary regional projects aimed at increasing our understanding of the ecological underpinnings of sustainable cropping systems in the Northern Great Plains.

The successful candidate will initiate and supervise field, greenhouse, and laboratory experiments. Greenhouse and laboratory activities will include mechanical transmission of viruses, mite transmission of viruses, ELISA, PCR, and associated tasks. Field duties include plot establishment and maintenance, and measurement of pathogen and plant variables. Further duties include assisting in the supervision of graduate and undergraduate students, development of appropriate experiments, collection and analysis of data, interpretation of results, formulation of conclusions, and documentation in a final written form.

 Required Qualifications:

  1. PhD in ecology, agroecology, weed science, plant pathology, entomology or a related field.
  2. Strong statistical foundation
  3. Excellent writing skills.
  4. A valid driver’s license.

Preferred Qualifications may include any of the following:

  1. Ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment.
  2. Interest and knowledge in agroecology and sustainable food production systems.
  3. Excellent verbal communication skills.

The successful candidate will also have the ability to multi-task and give careful attention to detail.

Application procedure: Please send as PDF files a letter of interest describing the candidate’s fulfillment of required and preferred qualifications, a CV or resume, transcripts, and names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of three references to either:

Dr. Fabián Menalled,  Land Resources and Env. Sciences
(406) 994-4783


Dr. Mary Burrows, Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology
(406) 994-7612

Screening will continue until the position is filled and references will be requested prior to an interview.

ADA/EO/AA/Veteran’s Preference: In compliance with the Montana Veteran’s Employment Preference Act, MSU provides preference in employment to veterans, disabled veterans, and certain eligible relatives of veterans. MSU makes accommodations for any known disability that may interfere with an applicant’s ability to compete in the hiring process or an employee’s ability to perform the duties of the job. To claim veteran’s preference or request accommodation, contact Human Resources/Affirmative Action, Montana Hall, MSU, Bozeman, MT 59717-2430; 406-994-2042 (TTD: 406-994-4191).

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