Atqa is interested in using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to create an efficient and effective healthcare system while promoting a positive social change in the health-tech industry. Atqa is a first-year Master of Engineering Science student with focus in Robotics at the University at Buffalo. Prior to working at the Lab, she worked as a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) engineer with General Electricals (GE) Ltd. in India. Outside of school and work, she enjoys gardening, painting, and hiking.
Eric Hughes is focused on advancing his knowledge of how Geographic Information Science can be applied in the field of sustainability. His interests include environmental activism, food systems, and social justice. In the Food Lab, Eric focuses on the use of GIS in strengthening food systems. Eric is currently pursuing a graduate degree in the Geographic Information Science program at the University at Buffalo. As an undergraduate student, Eric completed several sustainability courses which broadened his perspective on social and environmental topics. In his spare time, Eric plays music and runs an amateur recording studio.
Lorna M Georges is fascinated by the effect of design on how people interact in the built environment. She grew up in Haiti where, formal architecture, though well known, is not the primary driver of how the built environment or housing is designed. Lorna is currently an undergraduate student in environmental design (with a minor in architecture). She aims to pursue a graduate degree in architecture. With the Food Lab team, she shares a passion for using the food system as a lever for improving living conditions in communities. When not at school, she enjoys reading, cooking, writing, and painting (especially to relax).
Shireen Guru is interested in most modern American history with a particular focus on post-World War II women’s history. She is also interested in the historical implications of the research in the Food Lab, including but not limited to food equity, accessibility, and the gendered nature of food-related practices. Outside of academics, she can be found reading, baking, or in the nearest theatre stage managing. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2021 with her Bachelors degree in History.
Liya Rachal Chandy is a fourth semester student in the Master of Architecture program with a focus on Inclusive Design and Urban Design. She oversees global projects within the lab setting and thinks of food systems as a level for positive social change. Prior to working at the lab, she worked as an Architect in India and strongly believes in the power of place making as well as the power of good design. For the school, she acts as a liaison for International students and advances conversations on equity, inclusion and diversity. She also enjoys cooking, drawing, painting, gardening, and all things creative in her spare time!
As an immigrant and a student of history, William Gonzalez seeks to understand how historical politics, economics, and cultures affect the livelihoods of modern-day communities. William is a fourth-year undergraduate history student at the University at Buffalo and is preparing to pursue advanced study to prepare him for a career tied to museums or libraries. In the Food Lab, he brings a historical perspective to researching issues of food inequity and food justice among communities of color (he is currently documenting the ways in which Black leaders strengthened Buffalo’s food system in the 50s and 60s). Outside of work and school, William enjoys reading and cooking.
Rachel Grandits is interested in food systems planning, especially in issues of equity, accessibility, and sustainability. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Sustainability Leadership at the University at Buffalo. Previously, Rachel obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work at UB, where she quickly realized that her passions lie in pursuing change at a broader, systemic level. Rachel has previously worked in mental health settings and continues to pursue interests in social and environmental sustainability. In the Food Lab, Rachel has been documenting the ways in which questions of equity inform urban agriculture policy. Rachel enjoys teamwork and uses her collaborative skills to coordinate projects in the Food Lab. In her spare time, Rachel loves to spend time in nature and with her cats, cook, play music, read, paint and laugh.
Rose Thomas is a graduate student in Public Health and Social Work focusing on health services administration, policy and macro social work. Some of Rose’s interests are combating health inequities in both local and global communities through policy work and program planning. Aside from being a research assistant, Rose is currently a Student Ambassador for the School of Public Health and Health Professions where they started a pilot mentoring program for students of color to best enhance their academic and career experiences. Outside of school and work, Rose enjoys going to the gym, cooking, painting and taking care of their 3 plants.
Nathaniel Mich’s professional and research interests include urban agriculture, health equity in refugee communities, and land use policy. In the Food Lab, Nathaniel is coordinating a nine-county effort to make food systems information publicly accessible. He is also a second-year Master of Urban Planning Student and Arthur A. Schomburg Fellow, specializing in Food Systems and Community Health. Prior to joining the Food Lab, Nathaniel worked in non-profit community development and program management for nearly a decade, most recently as the Edible Education & Urban Agriculture Specialist for Foodlink, Inc. in Rochester, NY. He is involved in food systems advocacy in the Rochester region, and is a member of the Rochester Food Policy Council. Nathaniel holds a BA from Oberlin College in Anthropology, Archaeological Studies, and Geology. Outside of work, Nathaniel is an avid gardener, aspiring potter and lover of table-top role-playing games.
Yifan Wang is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography, University at Buffalo (UB). His research involves formal ontology, computational ontology, geospatial semantics in flood response, and artificial intelligence in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Yifan finished his M.S. in Geographic Information Science at UB, and he also holds a B.Eng. Degree in Electronic Engineering from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. While pursuing his Ph.D. in Geography, Yifan also took courses in Philosophy and Computer Science. His philosophical thinking has motivated him to think of information systems from diverse perspectives, and has provided him insights into the development of GIS. During college, Yifan worked as a volunteer teacher in the farms of Phonsavang, Laos, and in Sukabumi, Indonesia, where he interacted with children and low income populations. Such experiences have motivated him to devote his expertise to help people and the community. Yifan worked as a Teaching Assistant and has taught various courses and labs, including Maps, Web-based GIS, Earth, Climate and Environment, and GIS. In his spare time, Yifan plays the trumpet in the UB symphony orchestra and also enjoys photography and playing soccer.