2012 Summer Teacher Institute Presenters

Elizabeth Ainsworth

Associate Professor, Department of Plant Biology, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Plant Molecular Physiologist, USDA ARS

Elizabeth Ainsworth is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a Plant Molecular Physiologist with the USDA ARS. Her research applies physiological, biochemical, genomic and imaging tools to understand the mechanisms of plant responses to global climate changes, including rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone concentrations. The broad aim of her work is to understand the challenges and opportunities that climate change will present for genetic and biotechnological improvement of crop yield and food supply. Dr. Ainsworth received her B.S. in Biology from UCLA and her Ph.D. in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois. She was the 2011-2012 I.C. Gunsalus Fellow at the University of Illinois and was awarded the President’s Medal from the Society for Experimental Botany in 2011. Prior to her current appointment, Dr. Ainsworth was an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellow at the Juelich Research Institute in Germany.

Jamie Bender

CIS Outreach Coordinator

Jamie Bender received her B.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She earned an M.A. in Biology from Boston University, researching Neotropical mammals in the Ecuadorian rainforest, and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Jamie taught Anthropology and Biology at Oak Park and River Forest High School for 5 years before joining CIS as the Outreach Coordinator.

Alexander Blanchette

PhD Candidate, The University of Chicago

Alex Blanchette is a PhD Candidate at the University of Chicago. His dissertation, titled Conceiving Porkopolis: The Production of Life on the American Factory Farm, deals with the politics of nature and labor in the workplaces of corporate-owned hog farms. Beginning September 2012, he will be Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University and a Weatherhead Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, NM.

Daniel Block

Professor of Geography, Chicago State University; Director, Fred Blum Neighborhood Assistance Center

Daniel Block is a professor of geography at Chicago State University and the director of the Fred Blum Neighborhood Assistance Center. He has a particular interest in inner-city food access issues. He has completed a number of food access studies, including the Northeastern Illinois Community Food Security Assessment, a large scale food access study funded primarily through the Searle Funds of Chicago Community Trust. He also coordinated the Chicago Food and Fitness Initiative, a neighborhood-based plan bringing organizations interested in food security and fitness together in community projects. In an earlier project, he led a large food access study of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago’s West Side. Dr. Block coordinates the Roseland-Pullman Urban Agriculture Network and is currently secretary of the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council, and is active in many community commissions on food access issues. Dr. Block has a Ph.D. in geography from UCLA, where he focused on milk, public health, regulation, and the rise of the modern American food system. He is a past president of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society.

Rochelle Davis

President and CEO, Healthy Schools Campaign

Rochelle Davis is the President and CEO of the Healthy Schools Campaign, a national not-for-profit organization that advocates for healthy school environments. Davis served as the Principal Investigator for the NIEHS-funded Partnership to Reduce Disparities in Asthma and Obesity in Latino Schools, which worked closely with community organizing for environmental justice around children’s health disparities. Davis is a member of the EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee and is co-chair of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health’s Action Learning Collaborative. She is co-author of Fresh Choices, a cookbook published by Rodale Press and Executive Editor of the Quick and Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools. She is the recipient of the Chicago Tribune’s 2007 Good Eating Award.

Stephanie Hanson

From 2006 to 2009, Stephanie Hanson covered economic and political development in Africa and Latin America for CFR.org, the website of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2008, she won a News and Documentary Emmy for "Crisis Guide: Darfur," an interactive media guide that explores the history and context of the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, and on the websites of the New York Times, Newsweek, and the Washington Post.

Erin Koepke

Erin Koepke focuses on the strategic expansion and development of World Food Program USA's outreach initiatives to heighten awareness of global hunger and provide ways for people to become involved in the fight against hunger. WFP USA is a nonprofit organization that builds support in the United States to end global hunger. WFP USA engages individuals and organizations shapes public policy and generates resources for the United Nations World Food Program and other hunger relief operations.  With a broad range of experience living, studying and working at home and abroad, Erin is able to communicate the importance of food and nutrition as it applies to the international community. As a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Cape Town, South Africa, she volunteered to co-author and publish a cookbook that benefits sustainable micro-farming efforts in impoverished areas of Cape Town.

Sam Loewenberg


Samuel Loewenberg is a journalist who writes on foreign affairs, politics, culture, business, health, and poverty. He is currently the 2011-2012 Nieman Foundation Global Health Reporting Fellow at Harvard University.

His articles and photos have appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Portfolio, The Atlantic Online, Fortune, The Nation, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, and The Lancet. He has also shot and produced two films for PBS. Samuel has reported from China, Russia, Albania, Germany, Tanzania, Kenya, Guatemala, Niger, Spain, Hungary, and Brazil.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Samuel attended public schools. He is an alumni of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and was a MacCracken Fellow in the doctoral program in American Studies at New York University. He has received journalism grants from the German Marshall Fund of the United States and The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and in 2001-2002 was a Knight-Bagehot Journalism Fellow in Business and Economics at Columbia University.

Kathleen Morrison

Neukom Family Professor in Anthropology and the College; Director of the Center for International Studies, The University of Chicago

Kathleen Morrison is the Neukom Family Professor in Anthropology and the College and has been the Director of the Center for International Studies since 2003. Her research focuses on the historical anthropology and political ecology of South Asia, with an emphasis on precolonial and early colonial South India. Her interests include state formation and power relations, agricultural intensification, colonialism and imperialism, landscape history, and the anthropology of food.

Sheelah Muhammad

Co-founder, Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market

Sheelah Muhammad is co-founder of the Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market. Her social enterprise uses innovative community-based solutions to increase access to fresh, healthy food options in low-income, historically excluded and underserved communities. Prior to launching Fresh Moves, Sheelah was program officer at Oprah’s Angel Network and The Oprah Winfrey Foundation where she developed and advanced the charity’s research agenda on social determinants of health and health inequities. She led the Healthy Communities program area focusing on key initiatives linking education, youth development, economic opportunity, housing and community health. Sheelah currently serves on the National Advisory Council for the Office of Minority Health’s Action Learning Collaborative focused on healthy school food and environments. She is a member of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ Cook County Place Matters team, board treasurer for Healthy Schools Campaign, and a guest lecturer at Northwestern University School of Education & Social Policy. Sheelah holds a Doctorate in Naprapathic Medicine from the National College of Naprapathic Medicine, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a BS in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Raymond Offenheiser

President, Oxfam America

Raymond Offenheiser has been President of Oxfam America since 1996. Under his leadership, Oxfam America more than quintupled in size, and repositioned itself in the US as a leading voice on international development and global trade. Offenheiser is a recognized leader on issues such as poverty alleviation, human rights, foreign policy, and international development. He has played a critical leadership role in shaping the development of the Oxfam International confederation and is a founder board member of both the ONE Campaign here in the US as well as the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN). He brings more than 30 years of international development experience as a field programmer, grant maker, and executive in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the US. He has directed programs for the Inter-American Foundation in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador and worked for Save the Children Federation in Mexico. In addition to his membership on the Board of Oxfam America and Oxfam International, he also serves or has served on boards, advisory bodies and working groups with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute, the World Agricultural Forum, the Gates Foundation, Harvard Business School, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Interaction and the Kellogg Center at the University of Notre Dame. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow.

Bradley Roback

Bradley Roback is a member of the Sustainable Development team within the City of Chicago’s Bureau of Planning and Zoning. In his role with the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development, Brad is primarily focused on food policy, urban agriculture and incorporating food into local land use planning projects.

LaShandra Sullivan

Ph.D. candidate, Anthropology, The University of Chicago

LaShandra Sullivan is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation focuses on the expansion of agro-industry, social movements and land conflict in Brazil. Her M.A. research examined transformations of state and society that accompanied petroleum production in Gabon. Before studying at the University of Chicago, Sullivan worked as an economic officer with the United States Department of State. She completed an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University and B.A. in Philosophy from Howard University. Sullivan is from Birmingham, AL

Susanne Wengle

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Political Science, The University of Chicago

Susanne Wengle is a post-Doctoral research fellow at the political science department at the University of Chicago. Her research examines the political economy of post-Soviet market reforms and, more broadly, engages with questions how we study markets. Her current projects concerns agriculture and food production in Russia and the US; the aim is to explain variation in the success and failure of alternatives to industrial agriculture. She has published on various aspects of the post-Soviet transformation - on the political economy of infrastructure liberalization, on welfare reforms and on the politics of expertise.

Mark Winne

Co-founder and Food Policy Council Project Director, Community Food Security Coalition

From 1979 to 2003, Mark Winne was the Executive Director of the Hartford Food System, a Connecticut non-profit food organization. He is the co-founder of the Community Food Security Coalition where he now works as the Food Policy Council Project Director. As a writer on food issues, Mark’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Nation, Sierra, Orion, and Yes!, to name a few. He is the author of two books Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty and Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas. Both books are published by Beacon Press. Mark speaks to groups on topics related to community food systems, food policy, and food security, and was recently appointed to the position of Visiting Scholar at the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

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