Multiscale RECIPES Year 2 Report
Multiscale RECIPES (‘RECIPES’) is an interdisciplinary research network of 50 faculty and staff researchers co-creating solutions to wasted food. Through our research process, we partner with non-profits, industry leaders, frontline workers, community members, and policymakers to transform wasteful systems to promote sustainability, equity, and resilience.
Key outcomes of Year 2 were the continued growth of connections among researchers within our network and with external partners, expansion of convergent research projects, and the creation of new research collaborations across disciplines, institutions, and faculty with no prior experience working together. Much of this growth and expansion can be seen in the number of collaborative research projects, which total over 35 to date (including established, emerging, and new initiatives). Outcomes of collaborative research continued to grow, resulting in 16 peer-reviewed scholarly articles, 2 student dissertations, 2 reports, a dataset, and over 25 presentations. This was accomplished largely in collaboration and ongoing dialog with key wasted food stakeholders, including ReFED, the U.S. EPA, and state and local governments.
One of our main objectives is to promote an inclusive research network. This involves growing and evaluating our network’s progress on convergence, education, partnerships and enabling diversity and a culture of inclusion. In Year 2, a specific objective was to launch many of the network’s educational programs: creating the Wasted Food course, starting and staffing the student science journal Food-Fueled, launching research immersions for Deaf and Hard of Hearing programs, and beginning to develop the educational assessment instruments. Educational outcomes can also be seen in the growth and expansion of student engagement, with up to 90 students and 4 postdoctoral scholars now participating in RECIPES research, training, and professional development activities.
Objectives on diversity and culture of inclusion included developing and obtaining feedback on DEI metrics. The creation of 36 goals and objectives that will be used to analyze network progress over time. These metrics shed new light onto the operationalization of DEI efforts specific to food waste spaces, particularly due to both racial and socioeconomic factors inherent to food equity issues. In Year 2, we recruited the first cohort of Black in Engineering (BIE) Scholars. Three Scholars were matched with RECIPES collaborators to launch new research and provide professional development experience.
Impact of RECIPES outcomes can also be seen in the growing reach and public engagement. RECIPES reached over 400 followers across its social media platforms, which were used to share education on food system sustainability and wasted food reduction. RECIPES also launched a public webinar series, with 4 events focused on wasted food solutions, which reached over 500 attendees in total.
In the coming year, RECIPES will continue to develop and support existing projects while also launching new projects. “Convergence Conversations” held this year have provided better understanding of shared language and aspirations for convergence and identified barriers that we plan to address going forward. We expect that as research grows, the network will continue to publish and disseminate findings at a broader scale. Finally, we will continue to test, refine, and scale up the educational and DEI activities to reach more participants. We anticipate launching formal assessments of education, convergence, and using what we learn from these processes to guide ongoing efforts.