Maheen Akram holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, where she successfully pursued a double major in Economics and Political Science, setting the foundation for her academic and professional pursuits. Immediately after graduating from Wellesley, Maheen spent three years working at Goldman Sachs, Ayco Financial Management. Her experience at Goldman provided her with valuable insights into the complexities and inequities of the financial world and its impact on individuals and communities. Driven by a strong desire to contribute to the advancement of financial literacy and inclusion, Maheen aspires to pursue a Ph.D. to delve into the impact of financial education on individuals’ investment decisions. Her research interests focus on how targeted financial education initiatives can empower underserved communities and lead to improved financial decision-making. Currently, Maheen is serving as a board member and the Secretary for the Kashmir Education Initiative, a 503c non-profit organization that plays a crucial role in providing educational opportunities to underserved students in Kashmir. Her dedication to promoting education and empowerment underscores her strong belief in the transformative power of knowledge. Maheen enjoys camping, cooking, and playing team sports in her free time.
Mashood Ahmad Farooqi is interested in the role of social and environmental determinants on physical and mental health clinical outcomes. As a trained physician, he is also interested in how medical students are trained in understanding the role of social and environmental determinants on clinical outcomes. In the Food Lab, Mashood is working with a team to explore the impact of structural determinants on mental health disorders and substance abuse.
Prior to joining the UB Food Lab as a research fellow, Mashood completed his Bachelors in Medicine and Bachelors in Surgery (MBBS) from Government Medical College, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.
Mashood is an avid football fan. In his spare time, Mashood enjoys reading fantasy and history, and spending time in the gym and in the wilderness.
Festus Adegbola is a graduate student at the UB Geography Department. Festus’ research focuses on spatial ecology with the aim of monitoring degrading ecosystems using remote sensing techniques and proffering sustainable management approaches to ultimately restore such ecosystems.
At the Food Lab, Festus assumes the role of a GIS analyst, responsible for overseeing and processing all projects and tasks that involve geographic information. Festus enjoys playing musical instruments. Sax and piano are his favorites.
Touseef Yousuf Mir is an ethnographic researcher, teacher, and public engagement & advocacy professional. He currently serves as faculty at the Centre for Development Studies, Department of Social and Policy Sciences (SPS), University of Bath, United Kingdom. His work takes a principally multidisciplinary approach sitting at the intersection of conflict studies, comparative politics, and everyday state and society. Using the ethnographic (qualitative) methodology, his work upends the gaze to the popular experience side of the state-society debate within conflict studies. His work particularly looks at the protracted conflict situation of Kashmir.
Insha Akram is interested in understanding the experiences of women smallholder farmers living in the conflict setting of Kashmir valley in the Himalayan region within their communities’ food systems and creating equitable spaces for women. Her research interests include gender discrimination, women’s equity within traditional markets, and food sovereignty in occupied regions. In the Lab, Insha’s work focuses on smallholder farmers growing indigenous collard greens in Srinagar city of Jammu and Kashmir and coordinates all of the lab’s team.
Insha is currently pursuing a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning with a specialization in Community Health and Food Systems. Before pursuing graduate studies at the University at Buffalo, Insha trained in biological sciences and business management. She has worked in the IT industry and food retail industries. During her work in the retail industry, her perspectives changed while working with differently-abled/disabled employees, reinforcing her focus on creating equitable systems. Outside the lab, she enjoys reading novels, horse riding, and eating sweets. She is a nature lover.
Carol E. Ramos Gerena is interested in agroecology, land use planning, critical food policy literacy, and food sovereignty. She has worked in governmental and non-governmental organizations that support community development projects in Puerto Rico (PR). For about a decade, she has promoted agroecological farming and collaborated on the environmental restoration of abandoned buildings and lands near public housing and public school sites in PR. At the UB Food Lab, Carol coordinates a bi-city action-research initiative to promote urban agriculture policy designed by and for people of color in the cities of Buffalo and Minneapolis.
Carol is currently pursuing a doctorate in urban and regional planning at the University at Buffalo. She is an Arthur A. Schomburg Fellow and a Health Policy Research Scholar (HPRS) supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Prior to joining UB, Carol completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez Campus and a Master’s degree in Environmental Planning at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. Her Master’s thesis focused on sustainable planning of agroecological initiatives in K-12 public schools in Puerto Rico.
In her spare time, Carol enjoys playing with her pets, talking with her family, painting, biking, reading, urban farming, watching movies, and hearing/playing Afrolatinoamerican music.
Dr. Cameron Herman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and an affiliate faculty member in Africana Studies at Buffalo State College. His teaching and research broadly focuses on understanding the ways marginalized groups experience and navigate social inequalities in urban environments. Cameron has published solo and collaborative journal articles, chapters in edited volumes and online publications on a range of topics including Black artists’ response to gentrification, housing activism and neoliberal governance, Black masculinity in hip hop. In the wake of COVID-19’s onset, Cameron’s research agenda has expanded through collaborations with community partners and equity-minded scholars in the UB Food Systems and Healthy Communities lab to support community-based responses to inequitable food systems in Buffalo, NY. In his free time, Cameron enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, exploring neighborhoods on his bicycle and photographing everyday life.
Radhika P Kumar is a full-time faculty member at the College of Architecture Trivandrum (C.A.T). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in architecture from Bangalore University, and a Master’s degree in Planning (Housing) from the University of Kerala (College of Engineering, Trivandrum).
Her research interests include the role of planning in building ‘Healthy’ cities, social rental housing as a means to achieve “Housing for All”, and urban microclimate studies as a guide to urban form development. Her present academic position also allows her to indulge her other interests like instructional design for active learning, as well as architecture and planning pedagogy.
While pursuing her master’s program, she had the opportunity to participate in a multidisciplinary, international-collaboration studio project headed by Dr. Samina Raja, in Maradu, Kerala; and is now associated with the Food Lab as a Remote Research Affiliate for its activities in Kerala. In this capacity, she has recently participated in the Food Lab’s Plan-REFUGE program, seeking to understand the issues faced by smallholder farmers in predominantly agrarian countries like India.
Apart from her academic contribution to the sustainability cause, Radhika also actively volunteers in programs that impart ethical and spiritual values, especially among children and youth, since she strongly believes that inner transformation and understanding individual social responsibility, can go a long way in achieving a truly sustainable future.