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, Trans-Atlantic Partnership, and Insight Grants. Past project funders include the Simon Fraser University Community Engagement Initiative Grant, Weston Foundation Seeding Food Innovation Grant, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation.
Prospective students interested in graduate supervision opportunities, please read Dr. Tammara Soma’s profile and contact her directly via her SFU email. Email regarding graduate supervision to the general firstname.lastname@example.org email will not receive a response.
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 improve food system sustainability from farm to fork.
As a consultant, she has worked across Canada and the United States on a variety of projects, including launching food waste reduction and food scraps recycling programs, multi-city and multi-season food waste audits, developing food and organic waste models, and feasibility assessments for organic waste processing technologies. 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 the Food Systems Lab, Belinda brings theory into practice, creatively turning new ideas that start as a rough sketch on the back of a napkin into implementable research projects with robust measurement and evaluation.
Dr. Chelsey Geralda Armstrong
Dr. Chelsey Geralda Armstrong is an Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University’s Department of Indigenous Studies 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.
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.
Dr. Addis Benyam
Dr Addis Benyam is an environmental scientist with an interdisciplinary background related to natural resource science, social studies, and business. She earned a PhD in Environmental Economics in 2019 from Central Queensland University Australia and a Master’s degree in Natural Resources Management from the University of Manitoba. Her PhD research investigated the behavioural drivers of domestic food waste and its prevention and diversion policy options in regional Australia. Prior to her PhD, Addis worked for the Government of Manitoba in waste levy collection and recycling rebate programs, closely supporting municipalities, indigenous communities, and various local stakeholders engaged with waste reduction and pollution prevention projects. She has previously worked for the UNDP in environmental management portfolios where she got the inspiration and niche to conduct her master’s research. Her work evaluated UNDP-supported projects outcome on biodiversity conservation, prevention of land degradation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation, in the context of food security and sustainable economies in agrarian communities in Ethiopia. Addis’ main research areas of interests are resource economics, evidence-informed waste policies, and sustainable agriculture.
Addis is currently collaborating with Dr Tammara Soma in a research initiative that explores the opportunities and challenges of digital agricultural technologies to food loss and waste prevention in the global South and global North, and how this expands our knowledge to advance progress toward sustainable food systems.
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 supports building partnerships with diverse collaborators so the Food System Lab’s work continues to be meaningful and relevant to the community.
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.
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.
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.
Elina (she/they) is currently a Master’s candidate at Simon Fraser’s University School of Resource and Environmental Management. She holds a B.A. in Environment, Society, and Sustainability and International Development from Dalhousie University. Throughout her degree she took part in internships and experiential courses that brought her around the world looking at community and their varying forms of resource management. Since graduating she has been incredibly fortunate to have apprenticed under farmers both urban and rural. This has allowed her to gain both tangible insights into food growing and a look into different community’s food systems. She has also worked and volunteered within the nonprofit model to address food inequity, justice, and access for all.
Throughout her candidacy at SFU she hopes to explore the role that youth can play in the food justice movement within the confines of institutional structures. Additionally, she is interested in exploring the need for food system planners within cities that continue to depend on an unstable and globalized food chains. She is looking forward to centering a lens of social justice, intersectionality, community engagement, and designed resiliency as she gratefully works with the Food Systems Lab as an uninvited european settler on the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations.
Alexander holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science from Simon Fraser University and is currently a Master’s candidate in the Resource and Environmental Management program also at Simon Fraser University. He is very interested in a sustainable food system’s social aspects and has a passion for mentor ship and teaching. Alexander has completed two co-op terms related to environmental assessment, one at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the other at a private consultant. These experiences have given him knowledge about implementing large scale projects, navigating legal requirements in our current society and understanding how to encourage cooperation amongst groups of people. Alexander has been volunteering with the Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver for 13 years and hopes to incorporate food waste reduction and mentor ship starting at a young age. In his free time Alexander spends his time in the mountains hiking or skiing. He has started learning how to garden from his mother and hopes to explore the globe in search of sustainable food systems in all types of climates.
Dina Sadeghi is a current graduate student in the School of Resource and Environmental Management (Planning) at Simon Fraser University. She graduated with a B.Env from SFU as well, focusing on global environmental systems, and Geographic Information Science (GIS). She is interested in planning work with the consideration of food security and urban design that focuses on diversity and inclusivity for all members of a community. She is fascinated by how geography shapes the functions of societies and enjoys exploring these relationships.
Hafsa is a master’s candidate in the school of Resource and Environmental Management (planning) program. She holds a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science in Applied biology from SFU. Hafsa has been working at the City of Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley Regional District for the past 6 years focusing on waste management, invasive weeds and energy management. In her time with local government, she has experienced firsthand the challenges associated with driving behavioural change and the need to build-in equity and social justice into environmental programs. Hafsa’s goal is to make cities and communities food secure. With so much food going to waste and local governments focussed on how to manage that waste, she wants to help local governments also focus on food waste reduction through municipal and regional planning practices, policies and bylaws.
Nadia is a Master of Resource Management (Planning) candidate at Simon Fraser University. She holds a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management with a specialization in international development from Carleton University. Nadia is passionate about reducing food waste and contributing to a more sustainable and resilient food system. During her undergraduate degree she explored the roles that environmental and resource challenges play within issues of justice, politics and human development, as well as the global dimensions and dependencies of natural resource use. This background has shaped her understanding of current environmental problems and allows her to analyze the social, political and policy aspects of natural resource use and food systems. Nadia is particularly interested in policy options for reducing food and packaging waste and transitioning towards a circular food system and economy. She has experience working in government policy positions and is excited to pair her policy background with her work in the Food Systems Lab.
Jamie-Lynne is a graduate student in the Masters of Resource Management (Planning) program at Simon Fraser University and a new member of the Food Systems Lab. During her undergrad she completed a Bachelors of Environment in Resource and Environmental Management as well as a certificate in Spatial Information Systems. Her background in environment and geography allows her to draw on spatial and social relationships, sustainable development and systems thinking to analyse food systems from a social-science and management perspective. Having worked on several research projects regarding large scale resource management, Jamie-Lynne strongly believes in planning and policy that address issues of sustainability while considering social justice and equity for all. Jamie-Lynne is particularly interested in place based and community driven initiatives to increase food security and long-term resilience in communities across British Columbia.