Alastair Iles, Professor

Closed (1) Building Equitable and Inclusive Food Systems at UC Berkeley: Foodscape Mapping Project

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Since 2015, the Building Equitable and Inclusive Food Systems at UC Berkeley project has brought together active collaborators from across campus to help bridge the gaps between food and justice. Toward this end, we are creating a dynamic “Foodscape Map” that aims to both reveal barriers to the full participation of historically marginalized community members in food-related learning and practice, and highlight opportunities and successes in overcoming such obstacles. See the map in progress here:

In Spring 2018, students will use their design, illustration, data visualization, and programming skills to create sophisticated graphics of 10-15 datasets related to the Foodscape Map. The majority of the data is in spreadsheet form, with some in narrative form, and has been collected by a team of previous SPUR and URAP students. The goal is to create graphics that clearly and concisely show data and allows the end user to dynamically interact. The team will draw on open source data visualization tools as well as create custom graphics.
Learning Outcomes:
The undergraduate researchers can expect to gain skills and experience in quantitative and some qualitative research. They will gain a comprehensive understanding of the campus food landscape. They will also gain experience with mapping software.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Rosalie Z. Fanshel, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: The project team is seeking students who: ● Are skilled in illustration, design, cartography, and/or programming. ● Thrive while working both independently as well as in a team. ● Are highly organized and have strong time management skills. ● Possess comfort with creativity, innovation, and hard work. ● Familiarity with and/or willingness to learn about structural analysis of food systems and structural barriers to inclusion. ● Interest and experience in food systems research, education, and activism at UC Berkeley.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Related website:

Open (2) Web Mapping Access to Farmland for Beginning Farmers in the California Central Coast: Front and back-end development.

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

The proposed project would contribute to research on the barriers of access to farmland for small scale organic farmers in the California Central Coast. The undergraduate apprentice(s) would work under the close supervision of a graduate student studying California’s agricultural system, specifically using the cases of beginning immigrant farmers seeking small plots of farmland. This work is positioned within an environmental politics framework but also speaks to debates on sustainable agriculture, methods of research, and general food system issues. In this project we use an interactive web mapping tool to accomplish outreach objectives and land-use analysis. This position gives student's wishing to improve their computer science skills and opportunity to contribute to an ongoing applied project with social and environmental intervention goals.

For the undergraduate researcher(s), work would consist of:

1. Front and back-end development of a web-based mapping tool. The URAP will develop new interactive features on top of an existing Web-GIS tool. These include new interactivity with farmer-users, new analytic features, website monitoring, and database management. The URAP will also perform debugging and routine maintenance on the website, which may involve simple HTML and CSS corrections or larger application development.

2. GIS visualizations of land access. Spatial data on farmland (soils, parcels, zoning type) has been aggregated on a web GIS platform using the open source software Carto. In addition to the official data sources, the graduate student supervisor has facilitated a community data collection effort to characterize available farmland. The undergraduate apprentice(s) will use this software to make a mapbook of useful visualizations that characterize the issue of farmland access for use in policy presentations.

Learning outcomes- The undergraduate researcher can expect to gain skills and experience in developing an ongoing web-based agricultural extension tool. He/she will also be involved in the production of a useful and accessible summary of farmland data that will be utilized locally for small farming advocates. He/she will learn skills in emerging webGIS tools including online and participatory mapping. This will include the application of many computer programming tools like javascript, python, R, the Django website framework, Github, and SQL. Front end work will include HTML and CSS.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Adam Calo, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Qualifications: The ideal candidate is a computer science or CE student interested in hands-n environmental applications of their work. The candidate should also have a background in GIS applications or database management (experience with tools such as ArcGIS, python, javascript, html, PostgreSQL, and R) [desired but not essential], and an interest in food systems [desired but not essential]. Proficiency in the Spanish language is ideal [desired not essential].

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

Related website:
Related website:

Closed (3) Mechanization in Farming: The Consequences of Replacing Human Labor with Machinery

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The proposed project examines the process of mechanization – the replacement of human labor by machines – in vegetable, fruit and nut agriculture. The undergraduate apprentice(s) would work under the close supervision of a graduate student studying California’s agricultural system, specifically identifying and gathering information on mechanization on a crop-by-crop basis. This work will give the undergraduate apprentice(s) an excellent introduction to agrifood system research, political economy of agriculture, applied science and technology studies (STS), and methods of social science research. It is an ideal position for students interested in agrifood studies, technology and innovation, food sovereignty, and sustainability. Professor Alastair Iles and his graduate student Patrick Baur will work closely with you on this project.

The apprentice will be expected to:
• Identify, gather and organize historical and contemporary information on efforts to mechanize various crops, including tomatoes, asparagus, strawberries, and leafy green vegetables.
• Under the guidance of the graduate student and faculty mentor, extract relevant information from these materials to form a survey of the mechanization status and trajectory of the selected crops.

Learning outcomes: The undergraduate researcher can expect to gain skills and experience in qualitative research, specifically in archival research and document content analysis. He/she will also be involved in the production of a useful and accessible meta-analysis of agricultural mechanization that will be informative for policymakers and farmers. He/she will also have the opportunity to collaborate on producing analytical review and research articles.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Patrick Baur, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Qualifications: The ideal candidate would be comfortable with online research methods [required], the standard software suite (spreadsheets, word processing, etc.) [required], archival research [desired not essential], have taken coursework in STS, agrifood systems, and/or political economy [desired not essential], and have a keen interest in technological innovation and/or sustainable and just food systems [desired but not essential].

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs