Health from the Soil Up
Faculty Bios
John Balmes MD
Professor & Director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
UC San Francisco & UC Berkeley
Dr. Balmes is Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. He is an Attending Physician in the UCSF Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. At UC Berkeley, he is the Director of the Northern California Center for Occupational and Environmental Health and the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. He is also one of the Principal Investigators of the Berkeley-Stanford Children’s Environmental Health Center. Dr. Balmes has been studying the effects of occupational and environmental agents on respiratory and cardiovascular health for over 36 years. He was appointed Physician Member of the California Air Resources Board in 2008.
Tim Bowles PhD
Assistant Professor
UC Berkeley
Tim Bowles is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology and Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the Department of Environmental, Science, Policy and Management at the University of California Berkeley. The primary question motivating his research is: How can reliance on ecological processes create productive, resilient, and healthy agricultural systems? He received his PhD in Ecology from UC Davis and was a USDA AFRI Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New Hampshire’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment before joining UC Berkeley.
Steven Chen MD
Medical Director at Hayward Wellness
Alameda Health System
Steven Chen, MD, is the Medical Director at Hayward Wellness, one of the ambulatory clinics in the Alameda Health System – Alameda County’s safety net system of health. His areas of interest include integrative medicine, social justice and social determinants of health (SDOH), and innovative models of care. At Hayward Wellness, he and his colleagues have developed a “Food is Medicine” ecological model that addresses food insecurity (SDOH) by bundling a variety of interventions together that are clinically impactful. This model consists of a “food farmacy” and “produce prescriptions” through a partnership with a local farm; a “social needs pharmacy” and “help desk prescription” to connect patients to community resources; a “behavioral pharmacy” hybridized with group medical visits that supports patients in changing health-related behavior by integrating practices of exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, and social support; and a clinical pharmacist integrated into the primary care teams. Dr. Chen is a board certified Family Medicine physician and fellowship-trained in Integrative Medicine. He received his undergraduate degree and MD from Stanford University, and completed his residency training at UCSF-San Francisco General Hospital. He was awarded a Bravewell scholarship to complete a two year fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona under the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil. In addition, Dr. Chen has pursued training in acupuncture through the UCLA-HMI Physicians’ Medical Acupuncture program, and advanced training in a form of manual medicine called Strain-Counterstrain. He is committed to utilizing all possible tools to ensure health and wellness.
Kali Feiereisel MPH
Food Safety Specialist
Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Kali provides food safety technical assistance to farmers as they further develop their practices to meet new requirements. In addition to her background in diversified vegetable production, she recently studied food safety, local food systems, and food and agriculture policy while completing her graduate degree in Public Health Nutrition from UC Berkeley.
Gabriela Fragiadakis PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher
Stanford School of Medicine
Dr. Fragiadakis is a Stanford postdoctoral researcher investigating the relationship between the gut microbiota, the immune system, and diet. She studied molecular and cellular biology as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, and received her PhD in microbiology & immunology at Stanford. During her PhD in Dr. Garry Nolan's lab, she optimized methods for profiling the immune system in patients using mass cytometry. In Dr. Justin Sonnenburg's lab she is conducting dietary intervention studies, introducing foods that contain live microbes and microbe-accessible carbohydrates, to target the microbiota and the immune system. With this work she hopes to identify diets that improve microbial and immune health, as well as establish experimental and computational pipelines for tracking the microbiota and the immune system in human studies.
Aidee Guzman
PhD Candidate
UC Berkeley
Aidee Guzman works with Southeast Asian and Latinx small-scale farmers embedded in the monoculture landscape of California's Central Valley. Her research explores how on-farm diversification practices influence "soil health" and its links to other ecological processes. Aidee’s research aims to use social and ecological approaches to support farmers and rural livelihoods.
Janaki Jagannath
J.D. Candidate
UC Davis School of Law
Janaki Jagannath is a J.D. candidate at UC Davis School of Law. She most recently coordinated the Community Alliance for Agroecology, a coalition of rural community-based organizations who work to advance agricultural and environmental policy towards justice for communities bearing the burden of California’s food system. Prior to this, she worked at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. in Fresno, enforcing labor standards and environmental justice protections such as access to clean drinking water for farmworker communities in California’s agricultural heartland. Janaki has assisted in curriculum development for a new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems degree at UC Davis and has farmed in diversified and orchard crops across the state, including conducting training at the Refugee Entrepreneurial Agriculture Project in San Diego County with refugee women farmers. She is an artist, musician, and novice plant breeder. Janaki holds a B.S. in Agricultural Development from UC Davis and a producers’ certification in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.
Avinash Kar JD
Senior Attorney
Natural Resources Defense Council
Avinash Kar’s advocacy is focused on reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock and the presence of pesticides and toxic chemicals in consumer products and the environment. He has also worked extensively on issues pertaining to air pollution, as well as other aspects of environmental health including water pollution and reducing environmental impacts in textile supply chains. Prior to joining NRDC, Kar worked for the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, where he concentrated on air pollution from factory-farm emissions with a focus on California’s Central Valley. During that time, he also served on the California Air Resources Board’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and advised the board on AB 32, California’s historic law slashing greenhouse gas emissions. He received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College and his JD from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. He is based in San Francisco.
David W. Killilea PhD
Staff Scientist
Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute
David Killilea is a Staff Scientist in the Nutrition & Metabolism Center at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) and Specialist at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). David is a nutritional biochemist with a particular interest in the mineral micronutrients needed for good health. Funding for David’s research has come from the National Institute of Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and HarvestPlus. David has worked with Community Grains in Oakland, CA on re-establishing a local grain economy and has been interviewed in Cook’s Science, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times on the nutritional density of whole grains.
Leyla Marandi MPH
Network Coordinator
California Thursdays / Center for Ecoliteracy
Leyla Marandi is a public health professional based in Oakland. Her work has focused on chronic disease prevention, child nutrition programs, and school wellness policy. In her current role with Center for Ecoliteracy, she supports a network of over 80 public school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals made from California-grown food through the Center’s California Thursdays initiative. Leyla holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Southern California.
Tara McHugh PhD
Research Leader
Healthy Processed Foods Research Unit, USDA, Agricultural Research Service
Dr. Tara McHugh is Research Leader for the Healthy Processed Foods Research Unit at the Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California where she has worked for the USDA, Agricultural Research Service during the past 24 years. Dr. McHugh leads a multi- disciplinary team (30 members, 12 PhDs) of chemists, food scientists, microbiologists, nutritionists and engineers. Dr. McHugh has shown unusual creativity in solving problems of importance to the food industry. She is an internationally recognized expert in innovative food processing, edible films and nanoscience and a leader in high impact technology transfer. Her and her team’s cutting edge science have positively impacted the food industry and rural economies, adding value to specialty crops and co-products, while creating jobs and improving human health. She authored 160 peer-reviewed publications and 10 patents, led 28 CRADAs and 14 large grants, presented her research at over 200 scientific meetings, many of which were international meetings and two thirds of which were invited, received a multitude of awards, including two USDA Secretary Honors Awards, Arthur S. Flemming Award, three Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards and was recently elected Fellow by the Institute of Food Technologists. Five of her patents have been licensed to food companies. Her research has an h-index of 41 and her manuscripts have received over 7000 citations according to Google Scholar. Since becoming RL, her personal research program has received over $5M in extramural funds and her unit has received over $11M in extramural funds. Her reputation as a scientific leader is further evidenced by 1) Sixteen international scientists/students who have sought out and worked with her team, 2) committee assignments held in professional societies and 3) appointment as Associate Editor to Food Technology magazine.
Daphne Miller MD
Associate Clinical Professor UCSF; Lecturer and Joint Medical Program Faculty, UC Berkeley
UC San Francisco & UC Berkeley
Daphne Miller, MD, is a practicing family physician, author, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco and Lecturer at University of California Berkeley. Her teaching, writing and research focus on aligning agriculture and conservation with human health. She received her B.A. from Brown University and her medical degree from Harvard University and did post-doctoral fellowships in Health Services Research at UCSF and Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. She was a Senior Fellow at the Berkeley Food Institute and she is currently working on a book about the health impacts of food waste.
Julia Rubin MPH
Research Assistant
UC Berkeley
Julia received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Miami in 2013, and recently graduated with a Masters degree from UC-Berkeley School of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences. Her research focuses on food and agriculture as environmental determinants of human health. She has been working in Dr. Lee Riley’s laboratory at UC Berkeley since December 2016, investigating the role of retail meat in the transmission of gram-negative bacteria implicated in community -acquired infections. Her works aims to better understand the transmission pathways of resistant microbes. She has also worked on several projects in Vietnam, including an assessment of health outcomes associated with agrochemical use, with a larger goal of informing food safety policies within the region.
Dennis Shusterman MD, MPH
Staff Physician, UC Berkeley; Professor of Clinical Medicine, Emeritus, UC San Francisco
UC Berkeley & UC San Francisco
Dr. Shusterman is board certified in Family Medicine and Occupational Medicine. After residency training he initially served as the medical director of a community clinic, during which time he completed a Master in Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley. He subsequently worked a total of 16 years in public health (CA Dept. of Public Health & Cal/EPA) and 13 in academia (UC San Francisco and the University of Washington). In state service, he investigated health concerns near hazardous waste and industrial sites and after large-scale industrial chemical releases, and later headed a Section within the Occupational Health Branch concerned with workplace exposures to physical, chemical, and biological hazards. His work in academia included teaching toxicology, evaluating complex medicolegal cases, and studying the effects of air pollutants and allergens on the upper airway. He currently evaluates and treats patients at the UC Berkeley Occupational Health Service.
Philip B. Stark PhD
Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
UC Berkeley
My research centers on inference (inverse) problems, especially confidence procedures tailored for specific goals. Applications include the Big Bang, causal inference, the U.S. Census, climate modeling, earthquake prediction and seismic hazard analysis, election auditing, endangered species, epidemiology, evaluating and improving teaching and educational technology, food web models, health effects of sodium, the geomagnetic field, geriatric hearing loss, information retrieval, Internet content filters, nonparametrics, reproducibility, resilient and sustainable food systems, risk assessment, the seismic structure of Sun and Earth, spectroscopy, spectrum estimation, and uncertainty quantification for computational models of complex systems. Methods I developed for auditing elections have been incorporated into laws in California, Colorado, and Rhode Island. Methods for data reduction and spectrum estimation I developed or co-developed are part of the Øersted geomagnetic satellite data pipeline and the Global Oscillations Network Group (GONG) helioseismic telescope network data pipeline. I'm also interested in nutrition and the equity, sustainability, safety, and resilience of our food system.
Moises Velasquez-Manoff
Freelance journalist; Part-time Editor
NYT Magazine; Bay Nature Magazine
Moises Velasquez-Manoff has an MA from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, with a concentration in science writing. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic monthly and Mother Jones, among other publications. He's also author of the book An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way Of Understanding Allergies And Autoimmune Diseases. The book explores the modern increase in allergies and autoimmune diseases as a function of changes to the human microbiome -- i.e. the microbes (and parasites) in and around our bodies.
David Wallinga MD, MPA
Physician and Senior Health Officer
NRDC's Healthy People, Thriving Communities Program
David Wallinga, MD, MPA is a physician and the Senior Health Officer at NRDC's Healthy People, Thriving Communities Program. He has more than 20 years of experience in writing, policy, and advocacy at the intersection of food, nutrition, sustainability, and public health. His current work focuses on the enormous overuse of antibiotics of human importance in U.S. livestock production - a practice that continues to worsen the global crises of antibiotic-resistant infections, like MRSA. Prior to rejoining NRDC in April 2015, he cofounded Healthy Food Action; Keep Antibiotics Working: The Campaign to End Antibiotic Overuse; and created and directed the health program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis. Before that, Wallinga worked at NRDC on pesticides policy and on implementation of the then-new Food Quality Protection Act. He completed his medical school education at the University of Minnesota; he also holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Dartmouth College and a master's degree in public affairs from Princeton University. He is based in San Francisco.
Alice Waters
Restaurant Owner and Executive Chef
Alice Waters is a chef, author, and food activist, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. In 2015 she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama, proving that eating is a political act, and that the table is a powerful means to social justice and positive change. Alice is the author of fifteen books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II, and, a memoir, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook.