Three UC Riverside Students Awarded Global Food Initiative Fellowships

The $2,500 fellowships will fund projects focusing on community gardens, website development and on-campus food pantry

Dietlinde Heilmayr is a recipient of a UC Global Food Initiative fellowship.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Three students at the University of California, Riverside have been awarded UC Global Food Initiative fellowships that fund student-generated research, related projects or internships focusing on food issues.

Dietlinde Heilmayr, a second year psychology graduate student, will work on a project involving community gardens. Her project focuses on applying the scientific designs and research techniques of health psychology to understand how, when, and why community gardens improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities.

“The UCR Psychology Department has a strong focus on health and well-being, which makes it a great place to do this kind of research,” she said.  “I have conducted research in the UCR Community Garden, which has been a fantastic experience—it’s great to have such an amazing resource right on campus.”

Heilmayr believes community gardening is a promising platform to study real-world pathways to beneficial outcomes in health and well-being.

“Gardening is a multifaceted intervention that has the potential to slowly shift people onto a healthy trajectory,” she said. “Rather than targeting a single health behavior, as exercise or diet interventions typically do, gardening may change everyday decisions and patterns of behaving. Community gardening requires persistence, planning, goalkeeping, accountability, physical activity, and cooperation with others. These requirements may lead to new, healthier biopsychosocial patterns.”

She explained that harvesting the benefits of garden labor—fresh produce, a lush garden, healthy friends—may reinforce productive behaviors in other areas of life, and that these everyday decisions are related to conscientiousness (persistence and self-control), a known core component of health, well-being, career success, and longevity.

“Through effortful, patient, planned behavior in the outdoors, gardeners also likely learn to be more aware of their environment and to respond to changes deliberately and mindfully,” she said. “In addition to improving these well-being trajectories, community gardens may spread and extend community health through social networks. I also want to understand how these larger healthy trends develop.”

Darrin Lin is a recipient of a UC Global Food Initiative fellowship.

Darrin Lin is a recipient of a UC Global Food Initiative fellowship.

Darrin Lin, currently a web design intern in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, is the second recipient of the fellowship.  An undergraduate, he will work on developing the website for the California Agriculture and Food Enterprise (CAFÉ) at UC Riverside.

“To me, the UC Global Food Initiative is a means to educate people about global food supplies and how our growing population affects it,” he said.  “Global food = a limited, yet necessary resource!  We are in an age where information is predominantly digital and easily obtained. I hope to combine good design and presentation to show CAFÉ’s vision worldwide.”

Both his parents and grandparents were farmers in China before they came to America. Lin was raised in Oakland, Calif., where his grandparents grew a variety of vegetables in their backyard.

“As a child, I remember helping out by watering the garden and pulling any weeds,” he said.

Lin plans to become a software engineer with a primary focus on computer graphics, user interface, and user experience design.

“The CAFÉ website I am developing will be a place where we can showcase UC Global Food Initiative events, articles, and seminars held by our researchers,” he said.

Undergraduate Daniel Lopez is the third UCR student who won a fellowship.  His project focuses on the on-campus food pantry.

In total, the University of California awarded UC Global Food Initiative fellowships to 54 UC students.  The $2,500 fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students were selected by the campuses.

“These are outstanding students who are passionate about this important global topic and will be able to make valuable contributions to this initiative through these fellowships,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their projects.”

Napolitano, together with UC’s 10 chancellors, launched the Global Food Initiative in July in an effort to help put UC’s campuses, the state and the world on a pathway to sustainably and nutritiously feed themselves. The fellowships will support the work of the initiative’s early action teams and the initiative’s overall efforts to address food security, health and sustainability.

Fellowship projects examine urban agriculture, sustainable campus landscapes, agricultural waste streams and biological pest control, among other projects. Some projects enhance experiential learning, such as constructing new vegetable gardens. Others support food pantries. Yet other projects document research through films and social media.

The bulk of the fellowship funding comes from the UC President’s Initiative Fund, with several campuses augmenting the funding to support additional student fellowships.

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Additional Contacts

Dietlinde Heilmayr

Darrin Lin

Daniel Lopez

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