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Vermont - Statewide
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Meredith T. Niles, PhD

University of Vermont

Dr. Meredith T. Niles is an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, affiliated Faculty in the Food Systems Program, and a Fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont. She also serves as the lead of the National Food Access and COVID research Team (NFACT). Her research explores sustainable food security through the perspective of people and policy. She primarily focuses on understanding farmer and food system actors’ adoption of sustainable behaviors and the effect of disasters and extreme events (e.g. climate change, COVID-19) on food security. She is passionate about open access research, promoting transparency in scientific collaborations, and making academic research accessible and useable for policymakers and stakeholders.

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Emily Belarmino (née Morgan), PhD, MPH

University of Vermont

Dr. Emily Belarmino is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont and a faculty member in the Food Systems program.  She conducts applied research that informs decision-making in food systems and public health.  Her research explores social, economic, and environmental determinants of food security and dietary intake and how food-related policies and programs can be leveraged to improve diet quality, human health, and food system sustainability.   


Farryl Bertmann  PhD, RDN, CD

University of Vermont

Dr. Farryl Bertmann is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont and a faculty member of the Food Systems Program. Her research examines food security & nutrition assistance programs, inclusive and equitable approaches to community-based nutrition, and global food sovereignty. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with broad ecological training which includes degrees in Wildlife Biology, Applied Biology-Horticulture, and Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Wellness.

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Scott Merril, PhD

University of Vermont

Dr. Scott Merrill is a Research Assistant Professor in the Plant and Soil Science Department, a Gund Fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment, and Managing Director of the Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation (SEGS) lab. He is a systems ecologist with research spanning a wide range of both natural ecosystems and social-ecological systems. Projects include examining population dynamics within pest-crop agroecosystems including aspects of climate change, examining ways to nudge human behavior to help protect the health of our livestock herds, and looking at factors motivating behavior that affects water quality in the Lake Champlain watershed. In the SEGS lab, he uses experimental gaming as a novel technique for collecting data to examine decision making in social-ecological systems. An important goal of this work is the creation of applicable and predictive models to inform best management practices.


Ashley McCarthy, PhD

University of Vermont

Dr. Ashley McCarthy is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences & Food Systems Program at the University of Vermont. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on meeting the food and nutrition needs of the growing population while improving sustainability and resiliency to disruptions in the food system, such as climate change, natural resource scarcity, and the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s particularly interested in the role that regional food systems could play in food system resilience and sustainability.


Jennifer Laurent, Ph.D., FNP

University of Vermont

Dr. Jennifer Laurent is associate professor, Vice Chair of Nursing, & Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Nursing at the University of Vermont.  Her research explores associations between the food environment, obesity, and health with a particular focus on understanding the development of obesity and obesogenic eating behaviors in youth.  She is a practicing family nurse practitioner.


Sam Bliss, PhD candidate

University of Vermont

Sam is a PhD candidate in the Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. He is also a graduate student fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment and an instructor in Community Development and Applied Economics. He studies and participates in Vermont's non-market foodways: the production and distribution of food that's not for sale. These non-market food practices include gardening, hunting, fishing, foraging, scavenging, gleaning, sharing, gifts, barter, charity, and mutual aid.


Becca Mitchell

University of Vermont

Support for The University of Vermont team comes from The University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Office of the Vice President of Research, Gund Institute for Environment, and ARS Center for Food Systems Research.
For more information about this research, contact Meredith Niles (

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