University of California, Riverside

UCR Global Food Initiative

GFI Fellows

GFI Fellows


The UC President’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program funds student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on food issues. All 10 UC campuses plus UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are participating in the program. Read more on the UC sistem wide GFI students fellows involvement

Learn More on the 2017 UCR GFI fellows


Friday-Sunday, October 6-8

  • GFI Ambassadors Leadership Retreat

Monday, October 16

  • GFI Fellows Leadership Retreat


  • GFI Fellows Field Trip

Sunday, April 22

  • Earth Day


  • Project Reports and Poster Files due
  • Fellows Symposium (Tentatively scheduled to be held in conjunction with the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC); date and location to be confirmed.

No past events at this time.


UCR'S – GFI recipients are as follows:

Faculty/Staff Contact: Deborah Pagliaccia is the staff contact.

Holly Mayton, Ph.D., Chemical and Environmental Engineering Anticipated: December 2018,

Leveraging GFI to Enhance Interdisciplinary Food Networks and Communication at UC Riverside.

This project aims to utilize my two years of experience as GFI Ambassador to further build our food systems network at UC Riverside, including students, faculty, and staff from various fields of research, advocacy, and engagement. I have seen significant growth in interdisciplinary agricultural research, emphasis on student food insecurity, and support for food–focused activities and projects over the past two years, and look forward to helping facilitate more connections and communications in the coming year. Specifically, I believe that student engagement with food systems through farm tours, cooking demos, and knowledge of the diverse research happening at UCR will ultimately create more awareness around food and therefore less food insecurity on campus. I aim to use the coming year to create more of these opportunities by connecting GFI Fellows to other parts of campus, planning local farm and food facility tours, and inviting agricultural researchers to collaborate and interact in both formal and informal settings.
Audrey Lim, B.S. Neuroscience (2018),

TITLE: R'Pantry and Beyond: Increasing Awareness and Building a Community

SUMMARY: The vision for this project is to continue to support the R'Pantry in its effort to provide emergency food to UCR students in need, but to further this support by providing students with additional skills and resources. Additionally, this project will create a community for students to share ideas and for others in the local community to assist in helping students eat healthier and fight food insecurity. The addition of our volunteers in this outreach effort will assist in sustaining this program for years to come.


Raymond Iu, B.S. Bioengineering,

TITLE: Automatic Plant Watering System Optimization

SUMMARY: The agriculture sector consumes approximately 70 percent of the planet's accessible freshwater to irrigate cropland and produce food and other important crops. The main causes of unsustainable water use are: inefficient irrigation technologies, wasteful field application methods, and cultivation of crops with high water-use and not suited to the environment. The overall project focuses on building a closed water and water recirculating system in a greenhouse, specifically suited for the extreme heat environment of Riverside, CA. The goal in the first stage of the project is to create an earth-tube style cooling system that runs off a solar grid. In the second stage we will focus on building an automatic system that collects data on crop's water footprint in the greenhouse by imaging plants as well as possibly determining nutrient needs. From the first generation data, the most successful plants will be mapped to find the best water and nutrient needs.
Lihua Xu, Ph.D., Chemical and Environmental Engineering,

TITLE: UCR Initiative on Photovoltaics for Light, Energy, and Farming (UCR P-LEAF)

SUMMARY: The UCR Initiative on Photovoltaics for Light, Energy, And Farming (UCR P-LEAF incorporates experimental and theoretical work to create the first generation of organic semiconducting materials specifically tailored for implementation as agricultural covers. While solar cells based on organic molecules and polymers have the potential to be inexpensive, flexible and easy to manufacture compared with traditional inorganic semiconductors, they exhibit lower power conversion efficiencies because they do not absorb light efficiently over the entire solar spectrum. We plan to turn this limitation into an advantage for powering greenhouses by designing optoelectronic organic materials that absorb mainly at wavelengths outside the optimal range for plant growth. We envision that solar cells made from such flexible and affordable materials could be used as covers or roofs of greenhouses in order to provide them with power, particularly when separated from the electrical supply grid. These energy-generating devices will be transparent to the shorter wavelengths of sunlight needed for plant growth and use the longer wavelengths for generating the power needed to heat, irrigate, or otherwise run the greenhouse, creating a zero-energy usage farming structure. A preliminary video describing the goals of our collaborative effort with the other UC campuses can be seen here. We plan to have these videos on our group and project websites, linked to in press write-ups, and shown at our outreach events.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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