Berkeley Lab

Three Students Selected for UC-Sponsored Food Fellowships 2015-2016

The UC Global Food Initiative Program at Berkeley Lab enters its second year in offering research fellowships to three graduate students, in the amount of $4,000 each. This year’s selected fellows—two from UC Berkeley and one from UC Davis—will work with a Berkeley Lab mentor on a project that aligns with a Lab initiative in predictive agriculture.

UC President Janet Napolitano launched the Global Food Initiative in July 2014 as a way to intensify and expand the efforts of the world’s premier public research university to support healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food security.  This year, UC has provided $12,500 to each campus for three student fellowships.

These Global Food Initiative efforts complement two Lab Initiatives. The Predictive Agriculture Initiative, a collaboration with UC Davis, aims to develop new scientific approaches to increase food production while simultaneously decreasing inputs of water and fertilizers. This research project is led by Peter Nico of the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area, who serves as the Berkeley Lab lead for both the Global Food Imitative and the Predictive Agriculture efforts. Secondly, the Precision Urban Agriculture Initiative, led by Romy Chakraborty of the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area, aims to address the intersection of two problems—the environmental damage caused by conventional agriculture and the lack of healthy, affordable produce for low-income urban populations.

Following are brief introductions of each of the three students and their research project. (View all UC GFI Fellow recipients here.)

Our 2015-2016 UC GFI Fellows – Class of 2016

kripa-200x300Kripa Akila Jagannathan is a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group and is a second year UC GFI Fellow. She will be working with Andrew Jones in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area to investigate whether climate models with good skills in predicting global metrics (such as global average temperature) are also good predictors of specific metrics of local climate that are relevant to fruit and nut farmers in California, such as chill hours.

Her analysis will included a skill evaluation of about 30 different global climate models. She will also evaluate whether discarding models with low skill, leads to significant changes in the projections of future climate. This project would be an important addition to literature on global versus local skill of climate models. The results would be a step forward in efforts to provide farmers with the best available climate information for their specific local needs.

Kripa was also appointed as the Berkeley Lab’s UC GFI Student Ambassador to support student engagement and communication efforts for the 2015‐2016 academic year.  

Review Kripa’s 1st year project here >>

Linsey-UC GFILinsey Shariq is a PhD candidate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UC Davis. Her Berkeley Lab mentor is Will Stringfellow in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area.

The waste stream generated by unconventional oil and gas extraction may provide a nontraditional irrigation source for farming, especially in drought-stricken states such as California. However, uncertainties about human health implications remain. Linsey’s research investigates the uptake of chemical additives during oil and gas extraction operations in wheat crops which were raised in controlled greenhouse experiments and irrigated with water amended with hydraulic fracturing chemicals. An analysis of hazardous organic and inorganic chemicals of concern will be performed; the results will populate human health assessment models, and risks from crop consumption will be reported.

Matzen photoSarick Matzen is a PhD candidate in UC Berkeley’s Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Program. Mentored by Peter Nico, of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, Sarick’s research will focus on investigating arsenic bioavailability in the context of urban agriculture.

By constructing a laboratory analog of a human digestive tract based on recent models, Matzen will conduct lab experiments that will analyze arsenic bioaccessibility and plant availability in contaminated soils from a proposed community orchard site in Berkeley, CA. Results will inform other Berkeley Lab efforts on arsenic removal from water with investigation into behavior of arsenic in soils.

UC GFI Fellows – Class of 2015

The 2014-2015 Berkeley Lab UC GFI  Fellows – Class of 2015 completed their 1st year project in June 2015. A summary of their goals are available on the UCOP website.

Kripa Akila Jagannathan

Michelle Stitzer

Gus Tolley


Application Period is Now Closed!


Thank you for your interest in Berkeley Lab’s UC Global Food Initiative Fellowship.

The application is now closed! If you have any questions contact us at any time.

Applicants will be notified once the selection process has been completed.

Follow us on twitter @BerkeleyLab and @EESAlbnl or come back to our UC GFI website to get the most up to date information.

Apply now for the UCGFI Fellowship!


The Berkeley Lab’s application period for the UC Global Food Initiative fellowship is now open!

Applications are due October 2 (Friday).

To learn more about the fellowship application process, eligibility, and deadlines, go to the UCGFI Fellowship Application page.

The fellowships will support research activity related to the UC Global Food Initiative. Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible and expected to work in collaboration with Lab scientists. The fellowships are funded by the Office of the President, which is providing $12,000 to each campus for three fellowships. For more information about fellowship opportunities throughout UC system go to the UCOP Global Food Initiative website.

Scientific Mentors needed for 2015-2016 UC Global Food Initiative Fellows at Berkeley Lab


About the UC GFI Fellowship Program

The UC Global Food Initiative (UC GFI) was created by UC President Napolitano (in 2014) with the goal of harnessing UC resources to address one of the critical issues of our time: How to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025? The Initiative was launched last year with the formation of the UC GFI Fellowship program in which three small fellowships were awarded to outstanding undergraduate or graduate students at each of the nine UC campuses and Berkeley Lab. President Napolitano recently announced that the UC GFI Fellowship program will continue for the 2015-2016 academic year with support for an additional three non-need based fellowships at the level of $4500.

Berkeley Lab Mentors Sought

The UC GFI Berkeley Lab Program Lead is seeking mentors to potentially host a UC GFI Fellow. Berkeley Lab scientists who are interested in participating in this Initiative and potentially host a UC GFI Fellow should contact Maryann Villavert and/or Peter Nico by August 19. In order to ensure that we can identify a good match between mentors and fellows, please send a short description of the general topic area in which the fellow could work under your mentorship. UC GFI Fellow can work on any topics related to the overall mission of the UC GFI broadly defined.

Project Work In Year 1 of the UC GFI at Berkeley Lab

Three graduate students, selected in year 1 —one from UC Berkeley and two from UC Davis—worked with Berkeley Lab mentors on a project that aligns with a Lab initiative in predictive agriculture. Their projects focused examining the relationship between climate model outputs and growers information needs, updating genomic annotations of transposable elements (TEs) and impacts on growing maize, and modeling water runoff and bank scenarios to increase water for agriculture.

UC GFI Call for Fellowship Applications Opens Early August

A call for applications for UC GFI Fellow to work with interested mentors will open in early August with selections made by the end of September. This is an excellent opportunity for Lab scientists and students who are interested in food (broadly defined) related issues to contribute to the UC GFI mission.

Contact us today to become a mentor!

Peter Nico (Earth Sciences Division), UC GFI Berkeley Lab Program Lead
Maryann Villavert (Earth Sciences Division), UC GFI Berkeley Lab Program Communications Liaison