UCLA, working with chefs and scholars, is putting together a recipe to research ways to tackle global food challenges by creating an institute devoted to the emerging field of food studies, it was announced Monday.
UCLA has received a $13.5 million donation and created an interdisciplinary institute focused on research, education and policies about food.
The UCLA Rothman Family Institute for Food Studies is designed to bring faculty, staff, students, chefs and members of the community for UCLA’s food studies minor and graduate certificate program. The funds will be used for expanding offerings of the UCLA Teaching Kitchen, launched in 2019, and toward a food studies librarian and a chef-in-residence program.
“Food is central to the human experience, and this new institute will play a leading role in examining aspects of our relationship with food as well as the ways in which food systems tie into larger issues like public health, sustainability and economic well-being,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a release. “The institute exemplifies what UCLA does so well, which is bring communities together alongside experts from across the disciplines to address some of society’s most complex challenges.”
Biophysicist Amy Rowat, the inaugural holder of the Marcie H. Rothman Presidential Term Chair for Food Studies, said UCLA is uniquely positioned as a leader in food studies.
“We are known for our strengths in the sciences and the arts, and have strong partnerships with community organizations dedicated to equal food access,” Rowat said in a statement. “We will also capitalize on UCLA’s location in one of the most diverse cities in the world, which is home to so many innovative chefs.”
Alexandra Solodkaya has been selected as the new Rothman Family Food Studies Librarian. She is the first person to hold the position and will be expected to compile a broad scope of food-related research and teaching services, materials and collections.
“We are grateful for this gift — the largest in the division’s history — which will allow more of our students and faculty to delve into this growing area of inquiry,” Adriana GalvÃ¡n, dean of the division of undergraduate education, who emphasized how the institute’s interdisciplinary approach would benefit students, said in a release.
“Food can heal,” added Dr. Wendelin Slusser, associate vice provost of Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA, whose work across campus and in Los Angeles helped build the foundation for the institute. “The institute is looking at food from a system-based, interdisciplinary perspective to contribute to the health and well-being of the individual, community and the planet.”