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Our Team

Jennifer Jo Thompson, Ph.D.

Trained as sociocultural and medical anthropologist (University of Arizona, 2010), Dr. Thompson’s work is situated at the intersection of science, health, and food systems — and aims to engage with policy and social justice along these lines. She studies risk perception, public engagement with science, and trust in scientific and other forms of expertise.

Dr. Thompson directs ethnographic and mixed-methods social science research projects that focus on community food systems and sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Thompson is the Director of UGA’s Sustainable Food Systems Initiative.

Publications via Google Scholar

JoHannah Biang, MS

JoHannah is a PhD student and Director of UGArden, the student-community farm. As a PhD student, JoHannah is researching the impact of campus farms on the students who work and learn there. JoHannah has a B.S. and M.S. degree in Horticulture from the University of Georgia and is passionate about teaching students how to farm organically through service-learning and experiential learning opportunities.

Kristen Dunning

Kristen is an MS student in Crop & Soil Sciences. Her research focuses on Black farmers’ experiences with sustainable agriculture. She holds a BS from UGA in Agricultural Communication, with a minor in Horticulture. Her passions include community gardening, soil health, herbalism, and uprooting racism in agricultural systems. During her time as an undergrad at UGA, she has filled many roles such as CAES ambassador, MANRRS president, SGA representative, and UGA Young Scholar. Furthermore, she brings her love for plants to life in her award-winning herbal skincare brand, Gently.

Charlie Evans

Image of Charlie Evans

Charlie is an MS student in Warnell School of Forestry studying teacher professional development in environmental education. Upon finishing her Bachelors in Natural Resources, Recreation, and Tourism in 2018, Charlie began working at Fort Yargo State Park as a Naturalist. During this time she discovered her passion for working in the public sector and meeting the needs of the community she served. In September 2019, Charlie signed on with Grow It Know It as an AmeriCorps VISTA serving in the Clarke County School District. Throughout her year as an AmeriCorp VISTA, she has been exposed to the realm of local food systems and farm to school programming. In her MS program, she will continue working with Grow It Know It as a graduate research assistant, and develop her thesis with Grow It Know It as the focal point. Outside of school and work, Charlie enjoys experimenting with garden produce, hiking, and kayaking. Pictured with Charlie is her dog Ham.

Maria Teresa Tancredi, MS

Maria Teresa is an international PhD student in the Crop and Soil Science Department. Her research is part of the Precision Sustainable Agriculture (PSA) program, a multi-state, transdisciplinary collaboration aiming to improve the adoption and management of cover crops within commodity agriculture. Her work focuses on identifying farmers’ and other stakeholders’ shared perspectives around cover crops, as well as understanding policy effects on women farmers’ approach and barriers to conservation practices.

Maria Teresa received her B.S. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Padova (Italy). After her B.S., she decided to bridge her interests in environmental protection and food production and pursued a Dual M.S. in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Padova (Italy) and the University of Georgia.

David Weisberger, MS

David is a PhD student co-advised by Dr. Thompson and Dr. Nicholas Basinger, in the department of Crop and Soil Sciences. His work focuses on both biophysical and social dynamics of integrated weed management systems. He will be examining the effect of annual and perennial cover crops on Palmer amaranth suppression; as well as exploring stakeholder perceptions on the management of this weed in Georgia through a USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) funded grant.

David received his M.S. from Iowa State University in Sustainable Agriculture and Crop Production and Physiology. His work there focused on agronomic, and socio-economic challenges that organic farmers face in growing small grains. His background prior to graduate school involved stints working on small farms in the Hudson Valley of New York, as well as Costa Rica and Ecuador. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from SUNY Stony Brook, in Long Island, NY.

Melissa Ray, MS

Melissa is the Research Coordinator in the Social Sustainability of Agriculture and Food Systems Lab.

Melissa completed her M.S. at UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources with a focus in human dimensions and environmental education. During that time, she served as the Graduate Assistant to the UGA Sustainability Certificate program, where her research explored sustainability learning outcomes, community-based pedagogy, and the impact of interdisciplinary sustainability education programs in higher ed. Melissa also received her B.A. in Environmental Science and Anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Her additional interests include Native North American ethnobotany, medicinal herbs, farming, and cooking and eating with the people she loves.

Emily Ramsey, MA

Emily is a doctoral student in the Anthropology department, broadly interested in U.S. small farming and organic agriculture, as well as how knowledge systems, memory, and agricultural heritage inform the farming practices, knowledge, and traditional crops and varieties farmers preserve. She has also completed a Graduate Certificate in Organic Agriculture at UGA. Her research, funded by a USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grant (SARE), focuses on the rapidly growing yet still largely unheralded role that Hispanic immigrants are playing in U.S. small farming and is working to identify, in part, how these farmers can overcome direct-to-consumer barriers in South Florida markets.

Emily comes to sustainable agriculture from a varied academic background, including undergraduate and graduate degrees in religion and a MA in cultural anthropology. Her interest in farming is rooted in being the fourth generation raised on her family’s middle Tennessee farm, which she looks forward to returning to and cultivating following her doctoral work. In her spare time, she enjoys getting her hands dirty gardening, hiking and being outdoors, spending time with friends, and hanging out with her two kitties, Lily and Isaac.

LAB ALUMNI

Whitney Barr, MLA

Whitney is the Food Studies Program and Garden Manager at Spelman College. She is co-PI on a joint UGA/Spelman USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant. In 2021, Whitney graduated from the Master of Landscape Architecture program at UGA. Her thesis intersects the art of agriculture and landscape architecture for (re)building, healing, and feeding Black and Brown communities. She is a native of Columbia, SC, and holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Spelman College.

Andie Bisceglia, MS

Andie is Campus Kitchen Coordinator at UGA. Andie completed her masters degree at UGA through the USDA National Needs Graduate Fellowship Grant (NNF) program in May 2018, where her research focused on understanding how students think about sustainability and healthy eating in the context of farm to school. Prior to her masters work, Andie worked as an environmental educator and farm apprentice at a variety of farms, outdoor education centers, community gardens, and botanical gardens on the east coast.

Abigail Darwin, MS

Abigail (she/hers) is the Market Manager at the Athens Farmers Market. In 2021, Abigail received her M.S. in Crop and Soil Sciences with an emphasis in Sustainable Agriculture. She also completed the Sustainable Food Systems Certificate. Her research, funded by the USDA National Needs Graduate Fellowship Grant (NNF), identified community-based models for addressing rural food insecurity in the Southeastern US.

Abigail graduated from The University of Georgia in 2019 with an undergraduate degree in Health Promotions and Behavior. In her spare time, Abigail enjoys sharing meals with those she loves, spending time in wild places, and making sure her dog, Tex, gets to live his puppy-dog life to the fullest.

Joel Kirksey, MS

Joel is the Edible Garden Coordinator at California State University, Bakersfield. He completed his MS in Crop and Soil Sciences in 2021. His research, funded by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (S-SARE), examines farmer uncertainty through the lens of Georgia Blueberry Growers perceptions and questions about biostimulants.

June Brawner, PhD

June is a Policy Advisor at The Royal Society, London. She completed her PhD in Anthropology in 2019 and a MS in Crop and Soil Sciences in 2018. Her dissertation and MS thesis focused on identity, politics and the notion of terroir in winemaking in post-socialist Hungary.

Michaela Lubbers

Julianne Marmal

Reema Garabadu