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Clemson University Food Forward Symposium
Clemson University

FoodFORWARD Research Symposium

Food Forward 2022 Research Symposium: The 21st-century land-grant food systems approach to collaborative research. Friday, March 11, 2022, 8:30am-5pm at the Watt Family Innovation Center. Event will also be streamed through all research and education centers in South Carolina.

  • Proceedings
  • Keynote Speaker

    Dr. Alton Thompson, executive director of the Association of 1890 Research DirectorsDr. Alton Thompson
    Executive Director, Association of 1890 Research Directors

    We are excited to announce that Dr. Alton Thompson, executive director of the Association of 1890 Research Directors, will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Thompson is a rural sociologist and expert in the fields of agromedicine, rural poverty/development, labor economics and the structure of agriculture.

    The Association of 1890 Research Directors (ARD) is a federation that coordinates research initiatives among the nation’s 1890 land-grant institutions. 1890 land-grant institutions are 19 historically black universities established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890.

    In his role as executive director, Thompson develops the association’s regional and national research priorities in cooperation with federal, state and private partners, and promotes the 1890 regional research agenda within the national framework of the USDA-National Institute for Agriculture, other federal agencies, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. He also leads efforts related to legislative issues, strategic planning and the appropriation of federal and private funds for ARD research.

    Thompson came to ARD in 2016 from Delaware State University, where he served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. He also served for many years as a tenured professor and administrator at North Carolina A&T State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina Central University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from The Ohio State University.

    Dr. Thompson’s academic specialty is in the interface of statistics, research methods, demography and rural sociology. His research has yielded 25 articles, seven book chapters and a book entitled “Quality of Life among Rural Residents in North Carolina: Community and Life Satisfaction.” His research focus includes agromedicine, rural poverty/development, labor economics and the structure of agriculture and has resulted in more than $15 million in extramural research funds. 

    Thompson was inducted into the George Washington Carver Public Service Hall of Fame in 2020 and the USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2008. He has served in leadership roles on the Board of Agriculture Assembly for the Association of Public and State Universities. He also serves on the board of directors of numerous businesses, organizations and foundations.

  • Plenary Speakers

    Dr. Saundra Glover, USDA Rural Development State Director for South CarolinaDr. Saundra Glover
    USDA Rural Development
    State Director for South Carolina

    Dr. Glover is currently a Distinguished Professor Emerita and adjunct professor in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. She has been at the forefront of public health practice and health equity initiatives locally, nationally and internationally, publishing more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presenting her findings to audiences at all levels. She served for several years as the first associate dean for health disparities and social justice in the Arnold School of Public Health and directed the School’s Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities research portfolio that grew to $35 million under her leadership. Dr. Glover was also associate director of the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center. She has worked tirelessly to increase minorities in the biomedical field as an advisor and mentor to students and junior level faculty at UofSC and in partnership with historically black colleges and universities across the country. A summa cum laude graduate of the School of Business at South Carolina State University, Dr. Glover received her MBA and Ph.D. in management and organizational behavior from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

    A product of rural South Carolina, the Four Holes Community of Orangeburg County, Dr. Glover never forgot her rural roots and has dedicated her life’s work to improve rural communities and elevate the voices of the disadvantaged, disenfranchised and most vulnerable at the local, state and national levels. In accepting the appointment as the State Director for Rural Development in South Carolina, she feels her work has come full circle, blending her banking career, academic career, and community activism to create a culture of partnerships that will help build rural back better.

    Kim NiewonlyKim Niewolny, Director, Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation

    Dr. Kim Niewolny is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech and serves as director of the Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation. Dr. Niewolny’s work centers on the role of power and equity in community education and development with scholarly interests in participatory and cultural community development, critical pedagogy, multi-sector collaborations for sustainable food systems, and the political praxis of community food work. Current initiatives emphasize Appalachian food access and equity, new agrarian sustainability, agroecological knowledge, and the intersection of technology, farm workers and disability. She also provides teaching leadership in the Civic Agriculture and Food Systems Minor and serves as director of the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition and director of AgrAbility Virginia. She currently serves as the past president of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society and has been a board member of the Virginia Food Systems Council since 2018.

  • Presentation Registration
    Presenter registration has reached capacity and is now closed.

    REGISTRATION DEADLINES: Attendee registration is open until Thursday, August 25, 2022, or until capacity is reached. 

    This event is open to Clemson University faculty, graduate students, staff and invited guests.


    All presentation abstracts will be published in the symposium proceedings. While we hope to have all presenters attend in person, we understand that some may need to participate remotely. In this case, you may submit a digital poster and/or a pre-taped, 3-minute talk. For further instruction:

    • File Upload: Digital files including head shots, slide decks, posters and video presentations can be uploaded within the registration portal through the upload presentation prompt. Please have all digital files uploaded by September 1.
    • Verbal presentation Guidelines: In an effort to keep verbal presentations to 3 minutes, 1-3 slides are optimal. There are many online resources for constructing 3 minute thesis talks; here are a few that may assist you with honing your talk: Principles of Scientific Communication ; The learning Institute
    • Poster (Printed) Guidelines: Printed posters should not exceed 36 X 48 inches. Poster mounts and clips will be provided. You may set up your posters on the 4th floor of the Watt Center the morning of the symposium between 8:15-8:50 a.m. Please remove posters at 5 p.m.
    • Registration Information: You can edit your registration information at any time (including abstract and title) by going back into the registration site and click “Update/Review an Existing Order.” Keep in mind that the agenda (including speaker schedule, presentation titles, and abstract will be finalized September 1. 
  • Location and Agenda

    Location: Watt Family Innovation Center, Clemson University main campus

    Date: Thursday, September 15, 2022

    Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

    Streaming: The FoodFORWARD 2022 symposium will be streamed through all research and education centers in South Carolina.

    Agenda (Tentative)

    8:15 - 8:50 AM
    Attendee check-in and poster set-up. Pastries and Coffee provided

    9:00 - 9:15 AM
    Opening Remarks- Provost Bob Jones and Dr. Leslie Hossfeld, Dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.

    9:15 - 10:15 AM
    Keynote - Dr. Alton Thompson, Executive Director of the Association of 1890 Research Directors: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustainable Food Systems: The Role of Land Grant Institutions

    10:15 - 10:30 AM
    Break - poster session open - top fourth floor

    10:30 - 11:30 AM
    Three-minute presentations

    11:35 - 12:00 PM
    Carolyn Gahn, Director, Farm-to-Institution Aramark Corp: TentativeTitle Farm-to-Institution: Successes and Challenges

    12:00 - 1:00 PM
    Lunch poster session open; Research and Education Centers (REC) virtual tours- Main lobby. Boxed lunch provided.

    1:00 - 2:00 PM
    Plenary - Dr. Kim Niewolny, Director of the Center for Food Systems, and Community Transformation at Virginia Tech: “Cultivating Connections for Sustainable Food Systems: Possibilities and Lessons Learned for Land Grant Universities

    2:00 - 3:00 PM
    Plenary - Dr. Saundra Glover, USDA Director of Rural Development for South Carolina: Tentative Title: Opportunities at the Nexus of Agriculture, Community Health, and Rural Economic Development in SC.

    3:00 - 3:15 PM
    Closing Remarks - Dr. Keith Belli, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences

    3:15 - 5 PM
    Roof top Networking reception and Poster Session (fourth floor) - poster session open until 5PM, cocktails and locally sourced hors d’oeuvres provided.

  • Contact
    Mary Beth Johnstone
    Associate Director for Research Support, Clemson Rural Health
    Research Associate, Land Grant Local
    College of Behavioral, Social & Health Sciences

FoodFORWARD 2022

If you are interested in or actively pursuing research in any of the elements of food systems, the FoodFORWARD research symposium is for you! The event will be held Thursday, September 15, at the Watt Family Innovation Center from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.  Registration is open until Aug 25 or until capacity is reached. Space is limited so reserve your spot today!

This year’s event includes forty presentations covering a broad range of food related topics and research presented by expert guest speakers, and CU faculty, staff and graduate students.

FoodFORWARD is supported by the USDA rural economic development program and hosted jointly by the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, and the Watt Family Innovation Center for the purpose of:Food Systems Graphic

  • Understanding the breadth and depth of food systems research, extension, and outreach occurring across Clemson University campuses.
  • Fostering cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaborations and partnerships, especially those that align agriculture, rural economic development, and health.
  • Developing the foundation and infrastructure for an interdisciplinary food systems center at Clemson University.

The event is free and includes lunch and a rooftop networking reception featuring local food.

We look forward to seeing everyone and learning about the great work being done at Clemson!

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