GEOG Grad Student Nicole Motzer Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
The Department would like to congratulate graduate student Nicole Motzer, who was recently accepted into the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Nicole will be a funded NSF Fellow for the next three years for her research on the rural development capacity of regional food hubs in the United States. Said Nicole, "I am interested in blending analyses of human dimensions and environmental changes through the use of mixed methodologies. My dissertation research seeks to: 1) empirically ground theoretical claims in the existing alternative food networks literature, and 2) test the capacity of alternative food networks to bring social, economic and environmental benefits to rural, high-poverty regions. I am particularly interested in exploring impacts to food access for disadvantaged consumers and market access for underserved producers, such as women farmers, by employing a comparative case study approach in a remote region of the Inter-mountain West. Further, I hope to draw connections between land use practices, environmental change and engagement in alternative agriculture systems."
Rural poverty and spatial inequality are still huge barriers to be overcome and remain open to investigation by geographers. As a Graduate Research Fellow with the NSF and a doctoral student in the Department of Geographical Sciences, Nicole hopes that her work may contribute to theorizations of sustainable rural development and the long-term viability of local food systems across the U.S., while increasing participation of underrepresented groups in academic research and discussions.
A research assistant on Dr. Julie Silva's Nature Tourism project, Nicole plans to advance to candidacy in August 2013 after which, she will begin conducting field work. Nicole's proposed dissertation research topic is "Regional food systems and sustainable rural development: Analyzing the impacts of the Western Montana Growers Cooperative in a remote, high-poverty region of the United States."