Current Projects

TitleDescriptionExamples of Convergence
A Data Ontology for the Wasted Food Space
Clusters: Data
PIs & SP Involved: Roe, Li, Spang, Wilson, Apolzan, Siddiqui

This project will review existing ontologies relevant to food waste data and generate an ontology that facilitates data interoperability for data collected to document wasted food and to support food waste reduction efforts.

Interdisciplinary groups that might use the data will be involved in developing the ontology.

Analysis of the Environmental Health Impacts of Food Donation and Redistribution Systems
Clusters: Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Romeiko, Neff, Bozlak, Feingold, Hosler, Chavis, Jeihani, Lee, Talley, Ranganathan

This project will create a novel integrated system assessment approach by integrating life cycle, system dynamic, and health statistical assessment, providing foundational knowledge about effective strategies maximizing societal benefits of food donation, such as increasing food access and security of socially disadvantaged population groups, reducing food waste, and improving environmental sustainability of food rescue systems.

Integration across environmental engineering, system modeling, health and social behavioral, and policy sciences.

Assessment of Individual/Household Level Food Practices that Drive Food Waste
Clusters: Community
PIs & SP Involved: Snelling, Claus

This project will work with DC community groups including Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE), DC Ward 7 Faith-Based Organizations, and Senior Wellness Centers to evaluate the impact of tailored interventions (particularly various drivers of health) on levels of household food waste.

Health science researchers partnering with ethnographic researchers to conduct focus groups.

Assessment of Policy Frameworks Associated with the Most Sustainable Wasted Food Practices
Clusters: Community, Typologies
PIs & SP Involved: Stack Whitney, Knight

This project will examine choices and values by government actors at different scales to understand how food waste policies are being designed, reported, implemented, and assessed in order to find a scalable decision support tool that informs how policies and infrastructure may be more successful.

Working with collaborators in policy, biology, environmental engineering, and industrial design expertise.

A Textual Analysis of Economic Speeches on Agriculture 1919-2022
Clusters: Policy
PIs & SP Involved: Wilson, Neff, Graddy-Lovelace, Harper

The goal of this project is to understand how, if at all, policymakers and researchers have discussed and assessed policies historically that create wasted foods today. This work will reveal how wasted food has long historical developments that alter our current thoughts of this challenge as new. The work could re-frame current policy discourse around wasted food.

Bringing together economics, geography, public health, and nutrition. We are using different data, the text of speeches, and different methods, textual analysis, to develop new knowledge and ways of knowing of the how policy may shape wasted food.

Chicago Food Loss and Waste (Chi-FLoW)
Clusters: Co-Design, Community, Rescue, Typologies
PIs & SP Involved: Ashton, Ranganathan, Feingold, Romeiko, Davis, Verba

This project will work with community organizations in Chicago’s food loss and waste landscape to help identify priorities in order to scale food waste solutions.

Attracting new stakeholders to develop strategies for more effectively coordinating efforts for food loss/waste prevention/rescue/reuse and build educational activities.

Comparative Assessment of Digestate Management Strategies
Clusters: Valorization
PIs & SP Involved: Spang, Trabold, Tyler

This project will conduct a comparative assessment, using life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis, of at least two options for digestate management to help inform decision-making for technology deployment in relation to policies pushing for increased organic waste diversion.

UC Davis and RIT valorization groups collaborating.

Evaluation of Local Government Efforts
Clusters: Community, Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Neff, Harper, Richardson

This project will develop an evaluation of an intervention implemented by multiple local governments through the NRDC Food Matters Program. It will seek to understand intervention impacts across different local government typology settings, and gain insights to support adapting to context.

The plan will be co-developed in partnership between RECIPES researchers and NRDC staff. After the team defines the purpose further, but before the project is fully established, they will open the invitation more broadly for RECIPES collaboration, to advance further convergence.

Evaluating and Mitigating Bias in Food System Data Collection and Modeling
Clusters: Data, DCI
PIs & SP Involved: Roe, Cox, Wilson, Stack Whitney, Burke, Hall, Chukwurah, Shu

The group will seek to understand the approaches to evaluating and minimizing the potential for biases during the collection of data concerning the food system to ensure that modeling based upon fully supports diversity, equity, inclusivity and justice efforts.

Researchers from data science, DCI, engineering, and environmental policy working together.

Groundwater Depletion in US Agri-food Supply Chains
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Konar

This ongoing project will estimate the source of irrigation water by crop, producing a high-resolution understanding of how water is used in our food supply chains and the long-term risks that unsustainable water use poses for food supply chains.

Convergence of hydrology, land use, and supply chains disciplines.

Incorporating Waste into Dynamic Equilibrium Models
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Cai, Siddiqui, Roe

There are two existing models, DrFEWS, which is a CGE, and US-FEAST, which is a partial equilibrium model. This project will investigate methods of incorporating waste in both models.

Convergence of economics, mathematics, and engineering through combining two different modeling techniques.

Modeling and Metrics for Resilience and Equity
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Siddiqui, Gephart, Talley, Konar, Lee

This project will incorporate new metrics for resilience and equity within models of food systems and wasted food. It will also develop mechanisms for quantifying tradeoffs within existing and new models.

There are four faculty from different disciplines and modeling backgrounds seeking to create new common knowledge around metrics in modeling. The modeling can also be applied to different scenarios and topics.

Modeling Framework to Connect Input/output Models, Optimization, and LCA
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Siddiqui, Gephart, Romeiko, Konar

This project is a new modeling paradigm that captures regional food system interactions and that has explicit process representation and accounts for marginal changes as a result of decisions by integrating the process representation of optimization models, the aggregation of IO models, and the marginal, nonlinear representation of equilibrium models. LCA is then integrated into this framework, filling the need for consequential models of circular economy solutions.

This project produces new common knowledge in the modeling space that can advance modeling of regional systems through new methods by combining different strengths of modeling frameworks into one modeling paradigm.

National Food Waste Tracking Survey
Clusters: Data
PIs & SP Involved: Roe, Li, Neff, Wilson, Ellison

This ongoing project is a means of tracking the amount of household food waste created in the US. It will permit assessment of national changes to levels of household food waste necessary to evaluate if national goals are being met for this part of the food value chain.

Working with a broad array of researchers and stakeholders to implement additional questions on the survey that can provide insights into boundary-spanning issues.

Clusters: Community
PIs & SP Involved: Ellison, Pflugh Prescott

This project will develop a cooking curriculum that simultaneously promotes healthy eating and reduces food waste in low-income/low-resource households.

Policies to Address Surplus Food
Clusters: Policy
PIs & SP Involved: Neff, Graddy-Lovelace, Wilson, Krikorian

This project will generate insights about policy levers to address surplus, greater understanding of the related discourses, and contribute to discussions of Farm Bill policy priorities. A literature review and framework diagram will describe the types of policy that shape surplus food production in the U.S. and the types of policy that can reduce this surplus. The article will also discuss the concept of "surplus" and its varied meanings across disciplines, as well as the different approaches that may be taken for surpluses of produce vs. commodity crops.

The team draws from multiple disciplines, and all of perspectives will jointly contribute to the project. The discussion of discourse embedded in the work will enable the team to elaborate some of their learning related to convergence.

Reducing Barriers to Food Gleaning in Washington, DC
Clusters: Community, Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Ranganathan

This project will survey vendors and gleaning partners to ascertain what barriers they currently face in connecting excess food to interested gleaners and inform possibilities for increasing food gleaning in Washington, DC.

Transportation Literature Review
Clusters: Miscellaneous
PIs & SP Involved: Chavis, Jeihani, Lee, Talley

This project aims to synthesize the role that transportation plays in both the creation and reduction of food waste.

Role of Food Waste valorization in Transport of Plastic Debris to the Environment
Clusters: Community, Data, Valorization
PIs & SP Involved: Tyler, Eddingsaas, Babbitt, Spang, Apolzan, Martin, Whitney

This project will explore the impact of plastic waste on the nutrient content in the food waste stream, quantifying and characterizing the packaging and other food contaminants associated with food purchase, prep, and disposal, and the abundance of contamination in anaerobic digesters.

Integration of plastic tracking into waste tracking technologies.

Typologies of Wasted Food
Clusters: Typologies
PIs & SP Involved: Neff, Cozzan, Harper, Burke, Babbitt, Roe, Talley

This project will create the first regional system typology framework specific to wasted food, in contexts across urban-rural dimensions, socioeconomic status, population size, infrastructure age, and governance.

Interdisciplinary research across public health, modeling, engineering, and economics.

Using Bilevel Optimization for Decisions in National-Level Food Systems
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Siddiqui

This project will introduce a new modeling structure integrating life-cycle analysis and optimization problems to quantify the environmental impacts caused by wasted food on our food system and assess new policies.

Integrating connections with economics, engineering, and policy analyses and researchers.

Valorization Literature Review
Clusters: Valorization
PIs & SP Involved: Babbitt, Rodriguez Alberto, Chomiak, Mabe, Malarkey, Kabir, Park, Ashton, Eddingsaas, Lee, Spang, Talley, Trabold

This review is intended to identify knowledge gaps to better enable the design and implementation of valorization technologies able to manage wasted food that cannot be minimized or managed in other ways.

Collaborations across four (+) universities and between students and faculty in varied disciplines (engineering, sustainability, chemistry, ecology, policy, business, design).

WWF Food Waste Warriors
Clusters: Community, Data, Education, Typologies
PIs & SP Involved: Neff, Pearson, Nichols-Vinueza, Chandler, Pflugh Prescott, Roe, Snelling, McClave

This project will support schools as they conduct food waste audits, report measurements, and implement food waste interventions over the course of two academic years and help reduce food waste and insecurity, and to a much larger degree in marginalized communities.

Working with collaborators in education, nutrition, and non-profit sectors.