Social Science Graduate Student Awards 2016

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Social Science Graduate Student Awards 2016

The UC Davis Institute for Social Sciences (ISS), in partnership with the Center for Regional Change, has awarded six research and travel grants for the 2016-17 academic year to social science students in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The grants were made to outstanding students from the Community Development Graduate Group, Geography Graduate Group, and the Ecology Graduate Group. The CRC is pleased to partner with ISS to leverage support for social science graduate students. Congratulations to all of the recipients!


Marisa Coyne
“Wild” Plants as Food and Medicine: A Political Ecology and Experiential Curriculum for Youth

In my work with youth, I have observed a fascination with the “immediacy” and wonder of plants that grow outside the lines. But the power of wild plants to attract and maintain interest moves beyond their novelty (in the North Bay) as food item. Wild plants are a historical record of humanity's attempts to adapt (sometimes maladaptively) to new and challenging environments.  The interaction and interdependence between humans and plants is not specific to our species; intimate relationships with plants are characteristic of the whole of Animalia. Plants form unique commensal relationships with organisms everywhere at every scale.  Universally, to flourish is to depend on and foster knowledge of plant communities.

My proposed project, “Wild” Plants as Food and Medicine: A Political Ecology and Experiential Curriculum for Youth, is the design and presentation of a wild plants curriculum for high school students at Napa, California’s Oxbow School. Plant identification, ethical harvesting, careful processing, and “medicine” making are practices that have long been taught in outdoor and experiential education courses. I am interested in designing lessons that push the field to situate scientific conversations in socio-cultural contexts and to engage with issues of migration, gender, and colonialism through the exploration of plants as food and medicine.

Marisa Coyne is a first year graduate student in Community and Regional Development at UC Davis. She is an outdoor educator and wilderness guide with ten years of experience working with youth in non-traditional classroom environments. Her research interests deal with adolescent peer relationships, gender and leadership in the outdoors, and environmental education curriculum development. Coyne obtained her Bachelor’s degree in communications from Temple University in Philadelphia. Currently, she works as a teaching assistant and intern at the UC Davis Student Farm with the Kids in the Garden Program to mentor budding graduate/undergraduate farm and garden educators.

Laura Daly
Participation Explosion: New Approaches in the Struggle to Amplify Citizen Voice in Mexico

This project focuses on new methods that are being used by Mexican citizens to engage the public with the political process and improve their democracy and the responsiveness of their government. I will use this award to fund my travel to Mexico City and nearby states to interview people who are involved with the citizen initiative Ley 3de3, and to attend a workshop on social science research in Latin America at the Mexican university FLACSO.

Frannie Einterz
Combatting Food Insecurity in Tulare County, California: Evaluating and Improving Food Bank Programming

Frannie Einterz is pursuing her Master’s in the Community Development Graduate Group. Prior to arriving at UC Davis, she worked with the Whidbey Island Conservation District to perform a community needs assessment for farmers on the island. She also spent time as program assistant to the Purdue Extension Local Food Program. Her area of interest is food systems and her project is a collaborative effort with FoodLink of Tulare County, Evaluating a Nutrition and Cooking Curriculum with Communities across Tulare County: Final Conclusions and Lessons Learned. Einterz is originally from Indiana and finished her undergraduate degree at Indiana University. She loves Indiana basketball, reading about, growing, and eating delicious food, and attempting to channel her inner Zooey Deschanel at all times.

Madeline Gottlieb
Environmental Justice and Citizen Response to Shale Hydrocarbon Development

Using survey data and network models, I will examine the degree to which social networks facilitate and impede information flows and access to power in ways that contribute to and perpetuate environmental injustice, particularly around the issue of hydraulic fracturing in California, Colorado and North Dakota.

Madeline Gottlieb is a Ph.D. student in the Ecology Graduate Group, focusing on human ecology and environmental policy. Before coming to UC Davis she worked at Resources for the Future, a think tank in Washington, D.C., on a multi-faceted project examining public perceptions and regulatory aspects of shale development. Her interests broadly center on human-environment interactions and how social networks shape those interactions, particularly in the context of environmental justice. At UC Davis her research centers on community impacts of hydraulic fracturing and shale development. She holds a dual degree in environmental studies and economics from Connecticut College. Gottlieb is an active participant in her community as the co-chair of the Ecology Graduate Student Association and co-founder of a new publication to increase the visibility of Ecology students' research. She is an avid reader, thinker and adventurer who always looks forward to the next challenge.

Stacie Townsend
Narratives of California's Heartland: A Geographic Perspective on the Fictional Literature of the Central Valley

Funding will be used obtain important research materials (the primary source material for my study), as well as needed supplies to facilitate my study and subsequent analysis.  Additional funding is to be used for expenses related to a key geography conference opportunity in 2016, where I have presented my early dissertation findings and engaged in critical networking and professional development.

Jessica Zlotnicki
Domestic Work Worker Cooperatives: Assessing their Opportunities for Impact

Jessica Zlotnicki is a graduate student in the Community Development Graduate Group. Born in Boston and raised in Los Angeles, she received her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego in socio-cultural anthropology. Her interests in culture, education, and social justice led her to various non-profits, and later to the international education development field where she lived and worked in Colombia before returning to the U.S. for graduate school. Her research at UC Davis examines the recent growth of immigrant owned worker cooperatives in the domestic work sector (particularly green house cleaning), and their capacity to mitigate the economic and social effects of neoliberalism and capitalism.