Meet Taryn Chung '26, a New York City native, immersing herself in the realm of food systems research with Cornell's Food Systems & Global Change research group within the Department of Global Development. Taryn is a Laidlaw Scholar majoring in Environment and Sustainability with a focus on Policy and Governance, while also minoring in Sustainable Business and Economics and Urban and Regional Studies. Join us as we delve into Taryn's research journey and explore what the future holds for her!
What first interested you in sustainability and food systems?
The summer before fifth grade, I randomly took a class on “vertical farming,” sparking an interest and lifelong passion for environmental sustainability. I fell in love with the idea that technology could be developed to improve planetary and societal well-being, not by completely overhauling current economic and social systems, but by improving them. Though I have a particular interest in urban agriculture, I am really fascinated by any innovation that simultaneously prioritizes environmental, social, and economic goals.
What Food Systems & Global Change research projects do you contribute to?
I joined the Wild Futures project in February 2023 and worked on it through the summer. I have now transitioned to a new project working with Ramya Ambikapathi to examine gender equity in food systems. We’re conducting a systematic review on the implications gender has on food systems with a specific lens on multidisciplinary feminism to guide policy and research on food system transformation.
What interested you in these research opportunities?
It was through talking with another professor about joining his project for the Laidlaw Scholars Program that I met Daniel Mason-D’Croz and heard about the Food Systems & Global Change team and their research. My interests have always been centered around social innovations and food systems, but I did not have the knowledge or experience to clearly define exactly what I was passionate about. Joining the team has allowed me to nurture my research and communication skills while immersing myself in a subject I'm genuinely enthusiastic about.
What do you enjoy most about the work you are doing with Food Systems & Global Change?
I really enjoy how the nature of the work is simultaneously consistent and ever-changing. The skills I need to employ are pretty consistent: database scraping, reading scientific papers, literature reviews, and writing. However, due to the need to catalog different innovations with the Wild Futures project, the topics constantly change.
Can you explain a bit about your distinction as a Laidlaw scholar and the opportunities it has provided you?
The Laidlaw program is a global two-year research and leadership scholarship with about 20 universities around the world. The first summer, you receive funding to start your own research project or join a pre-existing one. The second summer is dubbed, “Leadership-in-Action,” and provides funding to do research, an internship, or volunteer work abroad.
Is there anyone who has been particularly influential either on the FSGC team or through the Laidlaw program?
Working on Wild Futures is my first time conducting research in college, so I have really appreciated the great leadership and mentorship I have received from Daniel Mason-D’Croz and Cody Kugler. Additionally, through Laidlaw, each student gets paired with a grad student mentor. My mentor, Michelle Heeney, has been an incredible resource, guiding me in the research space and through my college journey in general.
What do you enjoy outside of your school work and research?
I love digital and film photography, especially shooting street candids and developing film in a dark room. I am a photographer for the Cornell Daily Sun and work as a lab monitor in the Tjaden photo lab.
Dive deeper into the technical reflections of Taryn's work in an article titled, "How to Innovate, Responsibly: Redefining Agri-Food Systems for a Sustainable Future."
Gianna Klein '25 is a student writer for Cornell's Food Systems & Global Change.
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