Michelle is a PhD student in the Food Systems Graduate Program at UVM and is also pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Agroecology.
She comes to UVM having finished a recent tenure as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow at the Congressional Hunger Center. Preceding this, Michelle completed her M.A. in International Studies from the University of Oregon with a focus on agroecology, food sovereignty/security, and climate change. Her M.A. thesis research looked at the synergistic role that civil society organizations and grassroots movements play in addressing barriers to agroecological production among small, marginal and tribal producers in Rajasthan, India. Michelle’s inspiration for food systems work is rooted in the time spent with her hands in the ground. She completed her B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture from UMass Amherst where she worked for several seasons as an organic farmer, food systems educator, and piloted an agroecological food forest demonstration garden focused on educating students, faculty, and community around regenerative farming methods and bioregional plants.
Michelle hopes to put these experiences to use in the pursuit of her dissertation research which focuses on the intersections agroecology, climate change, gender, and socio-ecological power dynamics in the Middle East. She is interested in exploring the differentiated impacts of climate change on smallholder women farmers, the potential of agroecology in contributing to both ecological sustainability and the transformation of power relations in food systems, drivers and barriers to adopting agro-ecological farming, and finally, climate adaption strategies rooted in local knowledge.