Associate Professor

Dr. Meredith Niles is an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont and also teaches and advises in the food systems program.  Meredith also serves as the Associate Director of the Food Systems Research Center at UVM, a joint multi-million dollar effort with the USDA Agricultural Research Service focused on local and regional food systems.  Prior to her academic career, Meredith worked for the United States Department of State in HIV/AIDS public health and for several food and environmental non-profit organizations. 

Meredith thrives conducting applied research that can help bring together diverse stakeholders- from farm to federal agency- to help solve pressing problems facing our world's food system.  Meredith is an interdisciplinary food systems scientist whose research focuses on advancing efforts to achieve sustainable food security and improve health and environmental outcomes from food systems. Her primary areas of focus include sustainable food production with farmers and food and nutritional security during crises, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Meredith is deeply committed to ensuring academic research is available to the public and stakeholders to meet a land-grant mission, evidenced through policy briefs and open science principles.  Meredith has received notable honors and recognition for her research, most recently being named an Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine Scholar for 2022-2025 by the National Academy of Medicine.

Research and/or Creative Works

Meredith has two primary areas of interest related to sustainable food security, which overlap with several current and future research efforts:

  1. Ensuring Sustainable Food Production: Meredith works with farmers and farm organizations to understand why farmers adopt best management and sustainable practices.  She has worked in this area since her PhD, and has examined farmer’s adoption of climate adaptation and mitigation practices, water management, nitrogen and manure management, and cover crops.
  2. Food and Nutritional Security during Crises: Meredith’s previous and current work examines how climate change will affect food access, especially for low-income populations, women and children.  More recently, Meredith lead a national effort, The National Food Access and COVID research Team (NFACT), a national research consortium of more than 18 study sites in 16 states ( to examine the food access and food security impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among marginalized populations.


  • Moore, M., Razafindrina, K., Mendez, E., Niles, M.T. (2024). An analysis of the adoption of the “system of
    rice intensification” (SRI): why a homegrown technique has yet to take seed among rice farmers in Madagascar.  Cogent Food & Agriculture, 10:1, 2319932.
  • Belarmino, E. H. Malacarne, J., McCarthy, AC., Bliss, S., Laurent, J., Merrill, S.C., Niles, M.T., Nowak, S., Schattman, R.E., Yerxa, K. (2024). Suboptimal diets identified among adults in two rural states during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Accepted at Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.
  • Niles, M.T., McCarthy, A.C., Malacarne, J., Bliss, S., Belarmino, E.H., Laurent, J., Merrill, S.C., Nowak, S.A., Schattman, R.E. Home and wild food procurement were associated with improved food security during the COVID-19 pandemic in two rural US states.  (2024). Scientific Reports. 14: 2682.
  • Niles, M.T., Hammond-Wagner, C., Aristizábal, N., Hricko, C., Petrucci, A., Rodríguez-Cruz, L. (2024). Individual and collective political efficacy predict farmer engagement and support for groundwater policies: implications from the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Ecology and Society. 25:5.
  • Han, G., and Niles, M.T. (2023). An adoption spectrum for sustainable agriculture practices: A new framework applied to cover crop adoption. Agricultural Systems. Volume 212, 103771.
  • Chami, B., Niles, M.T., Parry, S., Mirsky, S., Ackroyd, V., Ryan, M. Incentive programs promote cover crop adoption. (2023). Agricultural and Environmental Letters. Agricultural & Environmental Letters, 8, e20114.
  • Waring, T., Niles, M.T., Kling, M., Miller, S., Hebert-Dufresne, L., Sabzian Papi, H. †, Gotelli, N., McGill, B.J.  (2023). Operationalizing cultural adaptation to climate change:  contemporary examples from United States agriculture.  Philosophical Transactions B. B3782022039720220397
  • White, A. †, Faulkner, J.W., Niles, M.T., Conner, D., Mendez, V.E.  (2023). The role of farmer networks in supporting adaptive capacity: opening the door for innovation and transformation in the Northeastern US.  Elementa. 1 (1): 00039.
  • Clay, L., Koyratty, N., Rogus, S., Colon-Ramos, U., Hossan, A. †, Josephson, A., Neff, R., Zack, R., Niles, M.T. (2023). A Mixed-Methods Approach to the Development of a Disaster Food Security Framework. Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Han, G and Niles, M.T. (2023). Interested but uncertain:  Carbon markets and data sharing among US row crop farmers.  Land. 12(8), 1526
  • Porterfield, K. †, Hobson, S., Neher, D., Niles, M.T., Roy, E.  Microplastics in composts, digestates and food wastes: A review.  (2023). Journal of Environmental Quality. 52(2):225-240
  • Davis, K.F., Muller, M.F., Rulli, M.C., Tatlhego, M., Ali, S., Baggio, J.A., Dell’Angelo, J., Jung, S., Kehoe, L., Niles, M.T., Eckert, S. (2023). Transnational agricultural land acquisitions as an emerging threat to global biodiversity.  Environmental Research Letters. 18(2):24014.
  • Moore, Maya, Alpaugh, M., Razafindrina, K., Trubek, A., Niles, M.T. (2022). Finding food in the hunger season: A mixed methods approach to understanding wild plant foods in relation to food security and dietary diversity in southeastern Madagascar. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 28
  • Brassard Wirkkala, K., Bertmann, F., Belarmino, E.H., Niles, M.T. (2022). The fruits of labor: Home food procurement and mental health in the time of COVID-19.  Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.
  • McCarthy, A., Belarmino, E., Bertmann, F., Niles, M.T. (2022). Food Security Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Longitudinal Evidence from a Cohort of Adults in Vermont during the First Year.  Nutrients 14, no. 7: 1358.
  • Rodríguez-Cruz, L.A., Álvarez-Berríos, N., Niles, M.T. (2022). Social-ecological interactions in a disaster context: Puerto Rican farmer households’ food security after Hurricane Maria.  Environmental Research Letters.

Awards and Recognition

Associations and Affiliations

  • Board of Directors, Public Library of Science
  • Board of Directors, Rural Vermont
  • Associations- Ecological Society of America, Agronomy Soil and Crop Science Societies
Meredith NIles, Associate Professor

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

  • Food Systems Sustainability
  • Food Policy
  • Food Security
  • Farmer Behavior
  • Social-Ecological Systems


  • PhD, Ecology, University of California, Davis, 2014
  • BA, Political Science, Honors in Environmental Studies, The Catholic University of America, 2005


  • 802-656-4337
Office Location:

355 MLS Carrigan Wing

Office Hours:

by appointment

Courses Taught