Global Food Initiative

2015 UC Davis Global Food Initiative Fellowship Recipients

The University of California, Davis, has awarded two undergraduate students a President's Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship.

Part of the UC Global Food Initiative (GFI), the fellowship program funds undergraduate or graduate students on each UC campus to work on research projects or internships related to the initiative.

Nick Doherty and Aria Wexler will each receive a $4,000 stipend to support their work related to food security, nutrition and sustainability. Aria is also the appointed student GFI Ambassador for UC Davis, and will be given $500 to support the additional responsibilities that come with this role.

The UC Global Food Initiative is focused on bringing together the university's research, outreach and campus operations to develop and export food security, health and sustainability solutions throughout California, the United States and the world. "It is a commitment to apply a laser focus on what UC can do as a public research university, in one of the most robust agricultural regions in the world, to take on one of the world's most pressing issues," says UC President Janet Napolitano.

UC Davis Health Advocates (Esther Ebuehi, Jenny Huynh, and Nilofer Chollampat) who attended the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative University Conference proposed a campus initiative to utilize technology to improve health literacy among the UC Davis student community. Throughout the year, these Health Advocates worked closely with the director of Student Health Services and the director of the Cross Cultural Center to provide culturally-sensitive programs that educate UC Davis students and staff on social, economic, and environmental determinants of health.

This spring, the Health Advocates reached out to Nick Doherty, a student app developer and one of Apple's 20 Under 20 Superstars for 2015, with plans for expanding his app in an effort to improve food accessibility and encourage students to make healthy decisions both on and off campus.

Nick Doherty

Nick Doherty, a sophomore engineering major who has previously developed the iPhone app Aggie Health, is working to develop an expanded version that would include nutritional information for food options on campus, including third-party vendors, and which would help students sort by ingredients, allergens and other dietary restrictions.

Aria Wexler

Aria Wexler, a fourth-year undergraduate studying clinical nutrition, will be working with Student Health and Counseling Services, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Ryann Miller, and Campus Health and Wellness to research engagement strategies and manage campus programming related to food advocacy and nutrition education for students with poor access and who may be food insecure.

Wexler's programming will complement the vision of the UC Davis World Food Center by creating community-supported solutions to food security issues, and by evaluating, assessing and implementing strategic interventions among the undergraduate and graduate student populations.

Her position will also play a role in marketing the programming to students, as well as helping to develop resources such as recipes, educational videos and podcasts. In support of this work, Aria has been given the newly created title Nutrition and Food Access student assistant, and will be starting in October 2015.

As the GFI Ambassador, Aria will be invited to participate in leadership meetings of the UC Global Food Initiative where she will have the opportunity to share her voice and report on UC Davis student engagement activities, as well as connect with GFI student leaders from all of the other UC campuses.