Food Systems Lab Team

Dr. Tammara Soma

Director of Research

Belinda Li

Director of Innovation

Tamara Shulman

Director of Community Partnerships

Dr. Rafaela Gutierrez

Research Fellow

Kelsey Carriere

Research Fellow

Allister Geonanga

Education and Innovation Fellow

Advisors

Dr. Virginia Maclaren

Principal Investigator – Food Waste Campaign Research

Kristina Carley

Educational Programs Advisor

Pablo Vimos

Educational Programs Advisor

Research Assistants

Maria Beskromnova

Research Assistant

Florencia Comesana

Research Assistant

Tara Immell

Research Assistant

Samantha Jung

Research Assistant

William Lionhart

Research Assistant

Nikki Mertens

Research Assistant

Dominika Naliwajko

Research Assistant

Dina Sadeghi

Research Assistant

Larry (Lok Hin) So

Research Assistant

Team Member Profiles

Dr. Tammara Soma

Dr. Tammara Soma holds a Ph.D. in Planning (2018) from the University of Toronto and is a Co-Founder of the Food Systems Lab.  She is an Assistant Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University where she conducts research on issues pertaining to food system planning, waste and the circular economy. Prior to SFU, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto, a Researcher at the University of Guelph, and the Food Equity Coordinator at New College (University of Toronto). Her dissertation investigated the factors that influence urban household food consumption and food wasting practices in Indonesia, and the ways in which food systems consideration can improve urban planning decision-making. She has published her work in the journals Local Environment, Built Environment, Indonesia, Journal of Agriculture, Food System and Community Development, and in the books Conversations in Food Studies (University of Manitoba Press), and Learning, Food and Sustainability (Palgrave McMillan). She is a co-editor with C. Reynolds, J. Lazell, and C. Spring of the upcoming Routledge Handbook on Food Waste. Beyond academic publications, she has also written for the Huffington Post, Policy Options, Alternatives Journal, and is frequently interviewed by media such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, CBC, TVO The Agenda and more. She is a 2014 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Doctoral Scholar, a Joseph Armand Bombardier SSHRC CGS Doctoral Fellow, an International Development Research Centre Doctoral Award recipient, and a SSHRC Top 5 Storyteller finalist. She led a tri-country team (U.S, Mexico and Canada) on a Commission for Environmental Cooperation project to develop toolkits for youth engagement in food loss and food waste reduction.

Her current research projects are funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council New Frontiers Grant, Simon Fraser University Community Engagement Initiative Grant, and Weston Foundation Seeding Food Innovation Grant.

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Belinda Li

Belinda is a Co-Founder of Food Systems Lab and an environmental engineer on a mission to create a sustainable and just food system. Building on her diverse experience in consulting, international development, and grassroots organizing, she uses a combination of participatory design and data-driven approaches to develop, test, and evaluate solutions to prevent food from being wasted.

As a consultant, she led the field teams for the University of Guelph’s food waste audits in Guelph and Edmonton, as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council’s food waste measurement projects in Nashville, Denver and New York. Her publications include the National Zero Waste Council’s How To Measure Food Waste: A Guide for Measuring Food Waste from Households in Canada and Commission of Environmental Co-operation’s Characterization and Management of Food Loss and Waste in North America Foundational Report.

With Food Systems Lab, Belinda led the facilitation of the Social Innovation Lab workshops and Open Source Circular Economy Day hackathon in Toronto. She is currently leading the monitoring and evaluation activities for a household food waste reduction and awareness research project funded by the Weston Foundation Seeding Food Innovation Grant.

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Tamara Shulman

Tamara is an environmental planner and engagement specialist with over 20 years experience in food waste reduction and organics management program development, implementation, and assessment. Tamara is committed to an approach that effectively fosters both system and behaviour change to minimize food waste and build community. She works closely with public and private sector clients to provide technical assistance, system audits, behaviour change program development, technical trainings, and stakeholder engagement services. She has led recent food waste reduction projects including stakeholder engagement for the review of the National Zero Waste Council’s Food Waste Reduction Strategy, technical support for the cross-Canada launch of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, and the development of a Characterization and Management of Food Loss and Waste In North America Foundational Report for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Recycling Council of British Columbia.

With her extensive experience and connections in West Coast communities, Tamara is working on building partnerships to bring the Food System Lab’s work to its new home.

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Dr. Chelsey Geralda Armstrong

Dr. Chelsey Geralda Armstrong is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia specializing in ethnobiology and historical ecology. She uses her training in both natural and social sciences to better understand food systems and food ways in northern British Columbia. Working closely with Tsm’syen and Gitxsan communities, Chelsey is interested in issues of access, contamination, and sovereignty on unceded territories. Focusing on peoples’ relationships to food, Chelsey considers how climate change and intensive resource extraction in northern BC challenges both traditional and contemporary foodways.

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Dr. Rafaela Gutierrez

Dr. Rafaela Gutierrez has a PhD in Science and Technology Policy from the Institute of Geosciences, UNICAMP, Brazil. Her research investigated how waste policies affected the plastic recycling production chain in the State of São Paulo.Since 2005 she has been studying waste pickers cooperatives and waste policies focusing on how to improve socio-productive inclusion of waste pickers. Dr. Gutierrez was also a visiting researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Waste Management at the University of Northampton, UK. She has edited a published book on waste related topics in Portuguese.

Dr. Gutierrez has been supporting Food Systems Lab since its inception, assisting with research and implementation activities from key informant interviews to workshop facilitation, research participant recruitment, waste audits, follow-up surveys, coordination, and logistics.

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Kelsey Carriere

Kelsey Carriere holds a Masters of Planning from the University of Toronto. She has a keen interest in developing circular urban systems for food and resource use. She is the Canadian lead for a Commission for Environmental Cooperation project on youth engagement for food waste reduction. She is a researcher with Eat Local Grey Bruce helping to develop a local food distribution network and brings a background of environmental studies, design and advocacy to the team. Beyond academia, Kelsey is a professional illustrator and artist. For the last 15 years she has dedicated most of her free time to making the world a better place, initiating and collaborating on such projects as: Streets are for People; P.S. Kensington; The Garden Car; The Petition Car; Guerilla gardening, streetscape improvements and cyclist safety infrastructure; Wiarton Farmers’ Market; People’s Climate March, and many acts of art that make people smile or just stop and think.

Kelsey started with the Food Systems Lab as a Masters student, assisting with facilitating the Social Innovation Labs and designing graphics for publications. Since then, she has worked on testing school curricula, print and web food waste campaign materials, and research participant recruitment and surveys.

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Allister Geonanga

Allister is a graduate of the Second Language Acquisition program at University of Ottawa and the Bachelor of Education program at University of Toronto. He is also an innovative elementary educator at the Toronto District School Board. In his class, he focuses on 21st Century Learning, Experiential Learning, Robotics and ensuring that his classroom is positive and full of student and parent input. His experience with food waste curriculum began after he attended an event at University of Toronto called Closing the Food Loop. He is a self-proclaimed nerd, and attends hackathons on the weekends to learn more about the tech world, so he can bring knowledge back into his classroom. He is working on develop educational apps for students to improve their 21st Century competencies and innovate the way that students learn.

Allister is currently developing programming initiatives for students about food waste and assisting other technology initiatives to support the Food Systems Lab, including developing an online trivia game about food waste.

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Dr. Virginia Maclaren

Dr. Virginia Maclaren is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Program in Planning. She has a Ph.D. in Regional Science from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Regional Planning from the University of Ottawa. Her main research interests in Southeast Asia are in environmental and waste management. Her most recent projects include an investigation of community-based waste management in Siem Reap (with colleagues at the Royal University of Phnom Penh), market waste composting in Vientiane (in collaboration with the National Science Council of Lao PDR), micro-credit programs for waste pickers in Hai Phong (in collaboration with the Vietnam Women’s Union), source separation programs in Hanoi (in collaboration with staff at the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), and public involvement in environmental impact assessment in Vietnam.

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Kristina Carley

Kristina Carley is an elementary teacher in the Burnaby School District, with a passion for teaching about social and environmental justice. She has a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction in Ecological Education, as well as a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts Degree from Simon Fraser University. Kristina aims to empower students to take action in their communities by providing them with opportunities to explore leadership, innovation, and stewardship. With her University Highlands Green Team Leadership group, she was able to create a Zero Waste Initiative, and receive the first Fair Trade Schools designation in B.C. By exploring and learning in the School Community garden, she helps her students learn about the importance of creating sustainable spaces for local, organic, and accessible food production. It is through this work that she first connected with the Food Systems lab, and looks forward to future collaborations.

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Pablo Vimos

Pablo Vimos is a landscape ecologist with a passion for urban agriculture. Pablo has been working as garden coordinator for Embark since 2015, facilitating hands-on gardening activities for SFU students, growing produce for Embark’s community kitchen, and leading and managing community projects. Also, Pablo works with elementary schools in Vancouver and Burnaby teaching children (K-7) to grow food, built wildlife habitats and take conservation actions to protect the environment.

In addition, Pablo has an interest in the study of physical resources and the connections between landscapes and people. His previous works include the analysis of temporal land-cover change to understand the effects of deforestation and road construction on the decline of Pacific Salmon abundances, the characterization of tropical rain forest using high-resolution aerial photography, and the conduction of large scale soil surveys to develop irrigation systems and methods to control soil erosion. His work contributed to understand social and environmental issues regarding land cover and resources management by analyzing how different physical elements relate to one another.

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Maria Beskromnova

Maria is a fourth year B.Env Global Environmental Systems student at Simon Fraser University, also completing a minor in Resource and Environmental Management.She is interested in the dynamic and complex relationships that is brought by food, and the vital impact it has on our lives. Food is an important staple for cultures around the world, which Maria loves to explore and experience during her travels. With her involvement with the Food Systems Lab, she hopes to further understand our own food systems and work towards sustainability within them. 

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Florencia Comesana

Florencia holds an associate degree in geography from Langara College. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Environment at Simon Fraser University, where she majors in Resource and Environmental Management. She volunteers on the UBC Farm and hopes to one day have her own sustainable, organic farm. She is inspired by the zero-waste mindset and is excited to be a part of the Food Systems Lab team looking at innovative ways to reduce on-farm waste.

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Tara Immell

Tara is a finance lecturer at the Beedie School of Business, bringing students’ academic knowledge to life via real-world experiences. Currently teaching Personal Finance, coaching students in business case competitions and a member of the Food Systems Lab at Simon Fraser University, she invites students to collaboratively develop sustainable solutions to pressing topics in today’s business world.  Her global outlook is due to having lived in Canada, the U.S., the U.K, and Japan while working for UBS Investment Bank and Thomson Reuters.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Computer Science from Northwestern University, a Master of Agriculture with Applied Finance Certification from Colorado State University, and is currently studying Mathematics Education at the doctorate level.

With Food Systems Lab, Tara continues her graduate research into the triple bottom line decision-making of farmers by contributing to the Community Engagement Initiative to expand market opportunities to reduce food waste.

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Samantha Jung

Samantha is a current Master of Resource Management (Planning) candidate with the Food Systems Lab based out of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. Samantha completed her Bachelor of Science in Applied Animal Biology with the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. Her background allows her to view the world through a scientific lens encompassing food security, animal welfare, human-animal relationships, wildlife conservation, and sustainability.  Samantha is passionate about building climate and food resilient communities by ensuring community, ecological, and cultural needs are placed at the forefront.

Prior to joining the lab, Samantha worked and volunteered in capacities that took her to several dairy farms in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia to conduct animal welfare research; to a wildlife rehabilitation centre to care for injured wildlife; to classrooms, public events, and aquariums to share the importance of marine conservation with the next generation; to the wetlands of Ontario to conduct research on the threatened freshwater turtle populations; and to the City of Coquitlam to champion the responsible coexistence between people and wildlife in our urban environments.

Samantha will be assisting with the New Frontiers Food Asset Mapping Project. For her research she will be using a framework called PhotoVoice, a qualitative method merging photography and stories together, to discover what the Kitselas Tsym’sen First Nations in Terrace, BC consider to be important food assets.    

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William Lionhart

Pursuant to officialization, William is under the belief he has completed his final semester in the fall of 2019: he has a BA (Hons.) in Political Science with an Extended Minor in Economics and a Certificate in Sustainable Development. He hopes the program adminstrators agree, and finalizes his application soon. He is eagerly awaiting his 2020 Summer graduation ceremony. His curiosity in sustainability studies began at SFU’s 2018 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Conference, which has cultivated into a vested academic interest. With the Food Systems Lab, he hopes to further the cause and learn how to create effective and sustainable change.

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Nikki Mertens

Nikki is in her last semester at Simon Fraser University, graduating with a joint major in Sustainable Business. She is interested in learning about all-things sustainability, particularly how to integrate sustainability practices into her own lifestyle. Her initial interest in social and environmental issues was sparked by her involvement in SFU’s fair trade program and has now expanded to other topics including reducing food waste and building sustainable food systems.

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Dominika Naliwajko

Dominika is a fourth year Biomedical Physiology student at Simon Fraser University. From her studies, she understands the value of proper nutrition and diet and its effects on a person’s health. Given the disparities in food access and security, not all populations have access to this fundamental resource. With the Food Systems Lab she seeks to understand how to make food security more inclusive for communities that are often left out of the conversation regarding food related policies.

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Dina Sadeghi

Dina is a fourth year Bachelor of Environment student, with a focus in Global Environmental Systems and Environmental Resource Management. She is fascinated by how geography shapes the functions of societies and enjoys exploring these relationships. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, she realized the importance of food security in our lives. This inspired her to explore sustainable food systems in an attempt to expand her knowledge on the issue.

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Larry (Lok Hin) So

Larry is completing his last semester towards a BSc in Biology with a minor in Resource and Environmental Management, as an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University. He became involved with the Food Systems Lab to further explore the issues and solutions regarding the sustainability of our own food systems. As an avid amateur cook and sentient stomach, the food offered to him by the Food Systems Lab team was also very compelling. His research interests include agricultural sustainability, aquatic toxicology, and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and practices.

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