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Clemson University Food Forward Symposium
Clemson University

FoodFORWARD Research Symposium

  • 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
    Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural, Leadership and Community Education
    Virginia Tech

    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.

  • Agenda and Information


    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.



    All faculty, graduate students and staff engaged in food systems research are invited to submit proposals for poster sessions and/or 3-minute talks. You will receive an email confirming your proposal acceptance within one week after submission. All accepted 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 slide decks, posters and video presentations can be uploaded within the registration portal through the upload presentation prompt.
    • 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 a week before the event. 


    8:30-9 AM - Registration

    9-9:30 AM - Opening Remarks

    9:30-10:30 AM - Keynote
    Dr. Alton Thompson, Executive Director of the Association of 1890 Research Directors
    Topic: Dr. Thompson will give a broad overview of food systems, challenges and opportunities and the role of land-grant institutions.

    10:30-11 AM - First Round of 3-Minute Talks

    11-11:30 AM - Break
    Poster session open on 4th floor

    11:30-12:30 PM - Second Round of 3-Minute Talks

    12:30-1:30 PM - Lunch
    Boxed lunch provided
    Poster session open
    Research and Education Centers (REC) virtual tours in main lobby

    1:30-2:30 PM - Plenary
    Dr. Kim Niewolny, Director of the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation at Virginia Tech
    Topic: Dr. Niewolny will speak on “Cultivating Connections for Sustainable Food Systems: Possibilities and Lessons Learned for Land-Grant Universities.” Drawing upon the experience of the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, this plenary will focus on the importance of a values-based and systems-approach for developing interdisciplinary partnerships and programming for improved collaboration among a diversity of stakeholders to address the complexity of food system issues with emphasis on social equity and community sustainability.

    2:30-3:30 PM - Plenary
    Dr. Saundra Glover, South Carolina USDA Director of Rural Development
    Topic: Dr. Glover will present opportunities at the nexus of agriculture, community health and well-being, and rural economic development in South Carolina.

    3:30-4 PM - Closing Remarks/Evaluations

    4-5 PM - Rooftop Networking Reception and Poster Session
    4th floor
    Appetizers and beverages provided
    Poster session open until 5 p.m.

  • Contact
    Mary Beth Johnstone
    Office of the Dean, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
    College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life 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. The day will include expert speakers, oral and poster presentations, and a rooftop networking reception featuring local food. The event is free and lunch is provided. 

FoodFORWARD is supported by the USDA rural economic development program and is 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:

  • 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 and well-being.
  • Developing the foundation and infrastructure for an interdisciplinary food systems center at Clemson University.

Call for Proposals

Food Systems GraphicWe invite faculty, graduate students and staff engaged in food research to submit presentation proposals covering the entire range of food systems, especially those at the nexus of agriculture, health and well-being, food and nutrition security, and rural economic development. Poster and oral presentation proposals are requested. Oral presentations will be short, three-minute talks that highlight your work. Abstracts will be published in the symposium proceedings. The deadline for submittal is August 8.

We look forward to learning about the great work already being done at Clemson!

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College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
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