Gund Graduate Fellow, Food Systems Graduate Program

Leslie Spencer is a PhD student in the Food Systems Graduate Program at UVM, a Gund Fellow, and a member of the UVM Institute for Agroecology. Her dissertation research focuses on wild bees in farmscapes, and how we can better manage/design these spaces for pollinators. She is pursuing the Education for Sustainability graduate certificate offered through UVM & the Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools. She also does natural history education work with Grow Wild, a network of folks in Burlington seeking to increase biodiversity and climate resilience by supporting the creation of more native plant and pollinator habitat.

Leslie earned her BS in Biology and a Minor in Food Systems & Nutrition from Tufts University in 2021. Some of her past projects include studying orchid bees in Costa Rican forests, predicting the pollinator-friendliness of coffee farming landscapes with spatial models, surveying native bee and wildflower communities in prairies with the Minnesota Agriculture for Pollinators Project, and planting urban pollinator gardens in Boston and holding outreach events with the Tufts Pollinator Initiative. In her free time, you’ll find Leslie growing and eating delicious food and exploring Vermont on her road bike or cross-country skis.

Associations and Affiliations

Advisors: Stephanie Hurley and Taylor Ricketts

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

farmscape ecology, wild bees, natural history education, agroecology, landscape planning


  • B.S. in Biology, Minor in Food Systems and Nutrition, Tufts University