Lessons from COVID-19: Key Personnel

by | Mar 10, 2022

The Lessons From COVID-19 Grant is supported by a multiple regions and multiple insitutions. Read below to learn more about the individuals that helped make this project a success. 

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Dr. Hikaru Hanawa Peterson, PI, Professor, Applied Economics, 50%-research and 50%-teaching appointment. Peterson will coordinate team efforts to conduct surveys and focus groups, develop relevant online resources and training materials, and generate research findings. She will lead research efforts for the regional foodshed analysis and equilibrium displacement modeling. Throughout the project, Peterson will oversee project management and supervise a postdoctoral research assistant. Peterson has extensive experience in marketing analysis and survey work and in leading multi-sector community-partnered food systems projects and multi-institutional integrated projects. She is a co-founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement and a past chair of the NC-1198 multi-state project.

Gigi Digiacomo, Professional Personnel, Research Fellow, Applied Economics, 100%-research appointment. DiGiacomo will compile secondary data, assist with COVID-19 survey design and distribution, lead recruitment and scheduling of focus groups and interviews, and report writing. Throughout the project, she will support Peterson with project management. DiGiacomo has worked extensively on supply chains, food system indicators (King et al., 2012), and marketing issues. She contributed to Growing Local: What Does Local Deliver? (King et al., 2014) and “Comparing the Structure, Size and Performance of Local and Mainstream Supply Chains” (USDA, Economic Research Service, ERR99, King, 2010).

Kansas State University

Dr. Cheryl Boyer, Co-PI, Research and Extension State Leader, 75%-extension, 25%-research appointment. Boyer will lead and coordinate all Extension-related efforts across all institutions for this project. Boyer will also guide and facilitate the publication process by collaborating on needed resources, their design, and implementation. Boyer is responsible for Extension outreach efforts to transfer technology and knowledge to stakeholders across the nation through digital tools (webinars, virtual conference, website, online course, and social media). She is a co-founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement.

University of California-Irvine

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira, PI, Assistant Professor, Global and International Studies, 33%-research, 33%-teaching, 33%-service appointment. Oliveira will manage the project for UCI, lead the effort to connect the team to farmers and supply chain companies for surveys, assist with survey design, supervise a graduate student researcher that supports this team’s work, and contribute to final project analysis and academic outputs. Oliveira is trained in geography, political economy, and agrarian studies, with substantial qualitative research experience, focusing on agribusiness investments, supply chains, and logistics infrastructure.

Dr. Li Zhang, co-PI, Visiting Assistant Professor, Global and International Studies, 50%-research and 50%-teaching appointment. Zhang will connect the team to farmers and supply chain companies for surveys, assist with survey design, compile secondary data, assist with focus group recruitment, and contribute to final project analysis and academic outputs. Zhang is trained in rural sociology and development studies, with substantial experience undertaking qualitative research with farmers, agri-food supply chain professionals, and agriculture-related government officials. Her research has focused on the emergence of “alternative food networks” in moments of crisis.

University of Florida

Dr. Lauri Baker, Co-PI, Associate Professor, Agricultural Education and Communication, 65%-research, 35%-extension. Baker will coordinate all grant efforts from the UF team including managing the UF/IFAS staff through the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center). She will direct communication research for the entire project including development, distribution, and analysis of the consumer survey. She will coordinate and direct the extension and communication plan with the help of PIE Center staff.

Dr. Christa Court, Co-PI, Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics, 70%-extension, 30%-research appointment. Court will direct the design and distribution of the survey for assessing impacts of COVID-19 on agricultural operations in the Minnesota-Wisconsin region as well as Southern California, as well as continued collection of data in Florida. She will direct analysis of data collected through this survey effort and coordinate with agricultural stakeholders for extension and research efforts. Finally, Court will participate in integrative activities, advise the project team on topics related to systems analysis and the economic impacts of disaster events, and advise a PhD student.

Dr. Angie Lindsey, Co-PI, Family, Youth, & Community Sciences, 65%-extension and 35%-research appointment.Lindsey will develop crisis resources. Lindsey conducts research and outreach related to crisis communication and community recovery and resilience after disasters. In her current role, she serves as the Extension Disaster Education Network Point-of-Contact for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension services. She works with all of Florida’s 67 counties by providing them with research-based programs and outreach on community disaster preparedness, mitigation, and recovery.

Anissa Zagonel is a Research Coordinator with the Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center) in Agriculture and Natural Resources. In this role, she supports the data analyst and report-writing functions of the PIE Center. Additionally, she assists with data collection, instrument development, and academic writing. In 2019, Anissa earned her master’s degree from Kansas State University in Agricultural Education and Communication and joined the PIE Center in April 2021. Prior to joining the PIE Center, she was a research and marketing specialist for the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement.

Meredith Oglesby is currently a second-year master’s student in agricultural education and communication at the University of Florida. Her specialization is agricultural communication, and she is minoring in nonprofit studies. For her thesis research, Oglesby worked with the AFRI team and studied food insecurity and volunteer behaviors during COVID-19. She also works with the AFRI communications team. Oglesby is planning to graduate in May of 2022. Oglesby is originally from Hillsboro, Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University in the spring of 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in agricultural communication.

Dr. Xiaohui (Sherry) Qiao is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Economic Impact Analysis Program of the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida. She holds a PhD degree in Civil Engineering focused on webGIS development and hydroinformatics. Her research interests focus on leveraging interdisciplinary technologies (GIS, data science, informatics) to solve research questions in agriculture and environmental science. She currently works on projects focus on web-based geovisualization, disaster impact analysis (tropical storms/hurricanes, flooding, harmful algal bloom), and geographical pattern analysis of supply chain.

Michaela Kandzer is a Communications Specialist at the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center). In this role, she is responsible for the communication efforts of the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement, and contributes to the center’s podcast, Science by the Slice. Michaela is a recent double gator, holding a BS in Food and Resource Economics, and a MS in Agricultural Education and Communication. Michaela first joined the PIE Center as a student worker in 2018 and has gained many valuable skills and experiences.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Michelle Miller, Co-PI, Associate Director, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, 100%-research appointment. Miller will manage the project for UW-Madison and will lead the effort to connect the team to transportation professionals using ethnographic field methods. She will work with Co-PI Stevens on the interface between food flow modeling and regional food modeling, and introduce the Research Assistant to Participatory Action Research fundamentals. Miller will work with Co-PI Farnsworth to create a professional development curriculum tied to the findings of this research.

Dr. Andrew Stevens, Co-PI, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, 70%-research, 30%-teaching appointment. Stevens will serve on the project team to assess food systems network structure on a national and regional levels from an economic perspective. He will supervise a research assistant that supports this team’s work. Stevens’ research focuses on economic decision-making throughout the food supply chain.

Dr. Lindsey Day Farnsworth, Co-PI, Project Staff, Division of Extension, Community Food Systems, 100%-extension appointment. Farnsworth will work as part of the team to create and launch a professional development strategy for Extension educators, transportation planners and others interested in IT tools for regional supply chain logistics and food system’s network structure. She will work with a student hourly to accomplish these goals. Farnsworth’s efforts focus on regional supply systems.