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2017 Seed Grant Award Winners

The Blum Center supported the following projects in 2017-18. 

Blum PI Dr. Zahra GoliaeiDr. Zahra Goliaei (SSHA graduate student) Project Summary: Dr. Goliaei will explore factors affecting food access, food choice, and the risk of food insecurity in recently resettled Dari speaking refugees in the San Joaquin Valley.
Research Team: Professor Mariaelena Gonzalez, Professor Nancy Burke and Dr. Karina Diaz-Rios






Jaapna Dhillon (SNS Postdoctoral Scholar) Project Summary: Dr. Dhillon plans to examine the sensory and cognitive perceptions of local fruits vegetables and nuts in UC Merced students and the factors affecting consumption such as food cost, availability and prior exposure.
Research Team: Professor Rudy M. Ortiz, Dr. Karina Diaz Rios 






uc merced grad student rodolfo rodriguezRodolfo Rodriguez (SSHA Graduate Student) Project Summary: Mr. Rodriguez will analyze farm worker union contracts for the incorporation of food access in contract demands to determine which successful strategies are used to increase access to fresh foods. 
Co-I: Professor Mario Sifuentez 




Professor Paul Brown (SSHA) Project Summary: Malnutrition in the elderly population is a serious public health concern. To date, no study has examined the challenges that elderly face in meeting their nutritional requirements in the SJV. There is an urgent need to document the rates of malnourishment, to understand the causes of malnutrition, and to identify remedies that might be used to address this important issue in the region. UC Merced Graduate Students, along with Professors Paul Brown and Nancy Burke, aim to examine the rate of malnutrition among elders admitted to hospital in the SJV to other regions in California, test whether elders in the SJV are more likely to admitted from and discharged to residential living facilities than in other, more affluent areas of California, and identify the challenges that elders and caregivers face in meeting their food and nutritional needs.
Research Team: Professor Nancy Burke, Kevin Kwan, Tashelle Wright, Jazmine Kenny, Adriana Nunez, and Ravi Singh


UC Merced professor Mario Sifuentez

Professor Mario Sifuentez (SSHA) Project Summary: Professor Sifuentez will collect archival documents and primary source oral histories of Central Valley farm workers, informing ongoing research in the areas of food and water, contributing to the burgeoning field of food studies. 
Research Team: Laura Gomez 





Professor Zulema Valdez (SSHA) Project Summary: Professor Valdez’s research team plans to survey alternate food outlets in two Merced County communities, in order to identify resources and solutions to food access, providing a more well-rounded picture of the rural food environment.
Research Team: Professor A. Susana Ramirez, Katie Butterfield, Vicente Mata, Nicole Raygoza


Tiebiao Zhao (Graduate student, MESA lab) Project Summary: Funding will support Mr. Zhao’s development of an autonomous rover which detects irrigation pipe leakage, saving agriculture time, effort, and money, ultimately increasing food production potential. 
Research Team: Jan Tana, Brandon Yang, Christian Tran 

uc merced zhao research team