Hi there! My name is Amy Blanchard and I am so excited to be introducing myself as a Community Research Fellow. Here’s a little bit about myself and my “why”- meaning why I’m doing my work with CRF!
On the academic side of things, I’m a rising junior majoring in environmental engineering. Anything to do with water and food resources, sustainability, and social justice is right up my alley! My favorite coursework focuses on applying chemistry and math to solve current issues in sustainability.
Whenever I need a break from my science-y homework, I love listening to all types of music and podcasts about music. I always have earbuds in, whether I am doing work in Hillman (2nd floor is the best) or going on a run around Pitt’s campus! Running and hiking are some of my favorite ways to relax and get out of the house, and appreciate the both the nature and city aspects of Pittsburgh.
Professionally, I aim to work as a professional environmental engineer in the field of sustainability and/or water and food resources. From sustainability consulting to water management for a city, I am generally interested in working in industry rather than research. Working in industry will allow me to have a direct impact with people and communities, since my overall goal is to help people and improve the quality of life for disadvantaged communities. This scholarship will help me dive into the community-based aspect I desire, and increase my impact from the classroom to the surrounding neighborhoods and community stakeholders. Being supported in my research is incredibly helpful, since the scholarship will help support me as I pursue food ecosystems research this summer.
More specifically in terms of my project, I am working with Dr. David Sanchez and the University Honors College to develop the Food Ecosystems Scholar Community. This community brings together University faculty and students, student and community organizations, and area stakeholders to investigate novel issues regarding food access in the Pittsburgh area. This question of food access has many facets, from supply chain management to social justice issues, and thus demands a diverse array of interested individuals coming together. My work with the Food Ecosystems Scholar Community will involve developing the community through an asset-based inventory of different stakeholders in the Pittsburgh food web. Through reviewing literature, mapping assets, and designing relevant deliverables, I will be able to build the Scholar Community into a hub for interested individuals and communities to connect and collaborate. This research into food access looks into resources that are required for life, yet consumers still face many obstacles in accessing these resources for nutrition. More simply, food is something we all need, but for some it is difficult to get. My research investigates the structural causes of food inequality, and aims to bring together changemakers that can dismantle that inequality.
Thanks so much for reading, and I can’t wait to update further as the research progresses!