Dr. Tammara Soma awarded for community engaged research and excellence in teaching

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Tammara Soma is the recipient of two awards at Simon Fraser University. She is the winner of the 2023 Emerging Community-Engaged Researcher Award and the 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award.

These awards recognize her many years of hard work with communities to ensure research is equitable and aligning her course curricula to put decolonization in action in her teaching.

New Publication: Indigenizing Food System Planning for Food System Resiliency

Our photovoice project in partnership with the Kitselas First Nation is now published in the Journal of the American Planning Association. This article features six Indigenous participants from Kitselas First Nation who shared photos and stories of their everyday lived experiences with foods and the importance of traditional foods. Through the findings from this study, we demonstrate the importance of respecting and supporting Indigenous food sovereignty in planning and the need for community food assessments to include cultural food assets. We are grateful for the collaboration and support from the Kitselas First Nation throughout the entire project.

Food is my Teacher

Dr. Tammara Soma’s documentary Food is my Teacher premiered on August 25 on CBC Gem. She travels with filmmaker Brandy Yanchyk across B.C. and Alberta to explore the healing power of food and its role in shaping our culture and identity. The documentary features the backyard garden of Tamara Shulman, Food Systems Lab Director of Community Partnerships. We also made a splash in the media, including:

We’re on Planet Wonder

Dr. Tammara Soma is the expert guest in an episode of the CBC series Planet Wonder. She chats with show host Johanna Wagstaffe about food system sustainability and explores the question “How vegan do we have to be to save the planet?”. Find out her answers to this question in this video.

We’re at CAFS 2023!

Food Systems Lab had four presentations at the Canadian Association of Food Studies conference this year. Tammara and Belinda shared findings from the Our Home, Our Food, Our Resilience project. Elina, Dina, and Hafsa presented at a panel session on the Digging into the Farm to School Movement project.

Earlier this month, Elina, Dina, and Hafsa also presented at the Farm to School BC Conference and successfully defended their theses.

Sharing Lessons Learned from Virtual Social Innovation Labs

We published a journal article titled “Reflections From Implementing a Virtual Social Innovation Lab”. This article highlights key lessons learned from adapting a social innovation lab to an online environment. An interesting innovation is the use of interactive tools like Gather.Town to improve participant engagement and Kahoot! for gamification to expand creative thinking. This article is available with open access in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Read the Article

Setting the Table for Food Justice: The Role of Community-Engaged Research

Dr. Tammara Soma, Co-Founder and Research Director of Food Systems Lab, was the feature speaker for a President’s Faculty Lecture on Tuesday November 23. Here are some highlights from the event.


Who has a seat at the food policy table and who gets to define the problem and shape the solutions when it comes to addressing issues such as food insecurity?

These are some of the questions that I seek to answer with my colleagues and students at SFU’s Food Systems Lab. Applying community-engaged research methods, this woman-led research lab is focused on centring equity, justice, and particularly the voices of Indigenous partners in shaping our collective vision to achieve sustainable, decolonized and just food systems for all. Informed by the Islamic and Indigenous teachings that food is medicine, I will showcase why worldviews matter when it comes to planning for food.

Insights from citizen scientists will demonstrate why food is more than just a commodity. Rather, food represents family, identity, culture and spirituality.

— Tammara Soma


Tammara Soma (MCIP, RPP) is an assistant professor at SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management and the research director of SFU’s Food Systems Lab. Canadian Organic Growers named Food Systems Lab as one of four “women-run projects that are redefining agriculture.” Originally hailing from Indonesia, Soma conducts research on issues pertaining to food system planning and the circular economy. Soma is a co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Food Waste and was selected as a committee member of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the consensus study “A National Strategy to Reduce Food Waste at the Consumer Level.”


The President’s Faculty Lectures shine a light on the research excellence at Simon Fraser University. Hosted by SFU president Joy Johnson, these free public lectures celebrate cutting-edge research and faculty that engage with communities and mobilize knowledge to make real-world impacts. Each short lecture by an SFU researcher will be followed by a conversation with Joy Johnson and an audience Q&A.
This year, lecturers will approach the themes of equity and justice from a variety of disciplines.