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

Research Assistants

Sushmita Apelo

Research Assistant

Denelle Carvalho

Research Assistant

Linda Lu

Research Assistant

Nikki Mertens

Research Assistant

Lydia Ng

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.

Her current research projects are funded by the Weston Foundation Seeding Food Innovation Grant and she is leading 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.

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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. 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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Sushmita Apelo

Sushmita is an Environmental Professional-in-Training with a passion for sustainability, and she is determined to bring about reduced environmental impacts through both individual and systemic changes. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto and a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Assessment from Niagara College. Sushmita has experience in waste management, corporate sustainability, and community engagement. Sushmita conducted the field work for the Food System Lab’s waste audits in Toronto. She also worked on waste audits and data compilation for the University of Guelph’s household food waste intervention study funded by the Walmart Foundation.

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Denelle Carvalho

Denelle is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying the intersection between human geography, city planning, and diaspora in Toronto.  She assists the Food Systems Lab with participant recruitment, conducting surveys, and facilitating workshops for the lab’s study on food waste reduction campaigns.

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Linda Lu

Linda is a fourth year undergraduate student working towards her Bachelors of Science in Immunology and Nutritional Science at University of Toronto. Her interest in food waste began in high school when she assisted in starting a biweekly breakfast program for students in her local community. She supports the Food Systems Lab through developing newsletters and workshop outlines, as well as mailing out important participant surveys.

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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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Lydia Ng

Lydia is currently a third year student at the University of Toronto studying a double major in Neuroscience and Nutritional Sciences. Her involvement with food waste prevention further develop after becoming involved with a start-up company whose goal is to reduce food waste from restaurants.  She supports the Food System Lab through various tasks, including designing community workshop plans, data entry, and phone surveys.

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