Our Team

Jennifer Jo Thompson, PhD

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

Lauren Hunt, PhD

Lauren is a Postdoctoral Associate working with Dr. Meredith Niles at the University of Vermont and in collaboration with Dr. Thompson at the University of Georgia to research agricultural decision-making and behavior in the context of climate change. She is working with the Precision Sustainable Agriculture program, a collaborative effort aimed at understanding cover crop adoption and management, to investigate how farmers and researchers experience and perceive cover crop adoption. She also is working to examine climate impacts, as well as adaptation and mitigation within the dairy industry. She employs mixed-methods research and mapping techniques to support sustainable and climate resilient communities and agroecosystems.

Michaela Lubbers

Michaela is an MS student in Crop and Soil Sciences and the IPM & Sustainability Communications Specialist at the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (Bugwood). Working in the intersection of sustainable ag, technology, and people, she is enthusiastic about making science useful and usable in the field. She is working with the Precision Sustainable Agriculture (PSA) program, a multi-state, transdisciplinary collaboration focused on improved cover crop adoption and management. Her aim is to co-develop a participatory design process for decision support tools (DSTs), ensuring that farmers’ needs and wants are met with these tools. 

Michaela received her B.S. in Applied Biotechnology in Plant Science from UGA in 2020, along with a minor in Environmental Law. After working with the Bugwood Center during her undergrad years, she joined full-time as the IPM & Sustainability Communications Specialist. She wears many hats in this role and loves pulling together agriculture and natural resources, technology, extension and education, web design, and project management.

Nicole Nunoo, PhD

Dr. Nicole Nunoo is a Postdoctoral Associate and a trans-interdisciplinary social scientist whose integrated work focuses on building sustainable regional and national food systems through grassroots participation. Her current research utilizes collective agency theory, which provides suggestive research directions for understanding regional and national agri-food networks as well as sustainable food systems, particularly among grassroots organizations.  As a food systems scholar, her interest centers on frameworks such as collective agency from a multi-sector coalition-building perspective, as well as critical pedagogy for sustainable food futures. She comes from Ghana and enjoys designing lights, reading, and cooking.

Folasade Olaoye

Folasade Olaoye is a second-year graduate student pursuing her Master of Public Health (MPH) through the College of Public Health at UGA. Her research focuses on how food systems influence nutritional behavior change for all individuals and communities. Through behavior change programs and interventions, she aspires to increase avenues of food availability, accessibility, and affordability for underserved and marginalized populations to promote equitable food system work. Through the USDA Higher Education Challenge (HEC) grant with UGA & Spelman, she is creating a program workshop for current and future faculty that addresses inequities among students in the food systems space.

Folasade graduated in Spring 2022 with her Bachelor of Health Promotion (BSHP) with a Global Health minor, which has provided her with a public health background on behavior change models related to food justice for all communities.

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.

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.


Whitney Bar

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.

JoHannah Biang, PhD

JoHannah is the Horticulture Manager at Hills & Dales Estate. As a PhD student, JoHannah examined the impact of campus farms on the students who work and learn there. JoHannah also 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.

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.

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.

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.

Kristen Dunning

Kristen is finishing her MBA at UGA. 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, MS

Charlie completed her MS in 2022 and is currently Extension Program Coordinator in Food Science and Technology at UGA. Her MS research focused on teacher professional development in environmental education.

Image of Charlie Evans

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), examined farmer uncertainty through the lens of Georgia Blueberry Growers perceptions and questions about biostimulants.

Melissa Ray, MS

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.

David Weisberger, PhD

David completed his PhD in 2022, and is currently a Research Associate at the University of Rhode Island. Co-advised by Dr. Thompson and Dr. Nicholas Basinger, his PhD research focused on both biophysical and social dynamics of integrated weed management systems. He examined the effect of annual and perennial cover crops on Palmer amaranth suppression, and explored stakeholder perceptions on the management of this weed in Georgia through a USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) funded grant.

Undergraduate Research Alumni

Jack Cherry

Evan Conaway

Vivien Enriquez

Reema Garabadu

Usha Kaila

Julianne Marmal

Zoheb Suaiman