Food Systems PhD Candidate Luis Alexis Rodríguez-Cruz was recently selected as a recipient of a 2020 Switzer Foundation Fellowship award. He is one of 20 recipients from across the country to receive this prestigious fellowship.

A native of Puerto Rico, his research is focused on Puerto Rican farmers recovery after Hurricane Maria and understanding their adaptive capacity. “We know events like Maria will keep coming, and through my work I want to contribute ideas, knowledge, and strategies to strengthen our food systems' resiliency in ways that create agro-ecological balance,” says Rodríguez-Cruz.

The Switzer Fellowship is awarded to students with a commitment to environmental improvement and demonstrated leadership. Along with a $15,000 cash award, the fellowship also comes with professional development opportunities during the fellowship year.

“My work in centered on farmers who live in an archipelago that is an unincorporated territory of the US. And like Puerto Rico, there are many Caribbean islands entangled in neocolonial relationships. My research acknowledges that, and I do my best to contextualized my findings to that reality. Hence, my work does not overlook issues of environmental justice, and validates people’s role in the environment. The Switzer Fellowship recognizes that in order to generate environmental wellbeing, we cannot overlook humans' wellbeing,” says Rodríguez-Cruz.

Rodríguez-Cruz is in his final year of the PhD program in Food Systems and is working with advisor Meredith Niles. With this award, he is looking forwarding to creating new connections, sharing his work, and expanding his skillset on science communication, policy, and advocacy. For more information about Rodríguez-Cruz's research, please visit:


Allison R Spain