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Clemson University Food Forward Symposium
Clemson University

FoodFORWARD Research Symposium

If you are interested in or actively pursuing research in any of the elements of food systems, FoodFORWARD is for you! The FoodFORWARD 2022 research symposium 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, collaborative table talks, poster presentations and a reception featuring local food providers on the Watt Center rooftop.

The symposium began in 2019 as a joint effort between the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences and the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences with the goals of:

  • Understanding the breadth and depth of food systems research and extension occurring across Clemson University campuses.
  • Fostering cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaborations and partnerships.
  • Developing the foundation and infrastructure for an interdisciplinary center for food systems research at Clemson University.

The 2019 conference resulted in the participation of more than 100 attendees with presentations covering a broad range of food systems areas such as production, processing, packaging, distribution, marketing and promotion, health and nutrition, food security, consumption and waste management.

The FoodFORWARD 2022 symposium is even more relevant following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food system-related topics have been pushed to the forefront in national and international media and are priority areas of research at the federal, state and private foundation levels. Research and service efforts that build resiliency, sustainability, health and equity into our food system are paramount.

We hope you can join us for this collaborative opportunity to learn about the pressing issues facing our food system.

  • Keynote Speaker

    Dr. Alton Thompson, executive director of the Association of 1890 Research DirectorsWe 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.

  • Symposium 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.

    AGENDA: A detailed agenda will be available at a later date.

    DEADLINES: Information about proposal submission and registration deadlines will be available in the coming weeks.

  • Contact

    Mary Beth Johnstone
    Office of the Dean, College of Behavorial, Social and Health Sciences
    College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences


We invite you to submit your proposals for presentations at the FoodFORWARD 2022 research symposium.

Topics covering the entire range of food systems research are welcome, especially those at the nexus of agriculture, health and rural economic development. Proposals are requested for both poster and oral presentations. Oral presentations will be short, three-minute/six-slide “pop talks” that highlight innovative research on the broad theme of food systems. Those who are selected to give oral presentations will also be invited to lead a 20-minute “table talk” breakout session following the oral presentations to deepen conversation around that topic. Abstracts of projects that involve partnerships between cross-campus researchers are highly encouraged.

We have selected six priority areas of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative on which to focus presentations, and we ask that you indicate which area best fits your presentation or poster:

Information about proposal submission deadlines will be available in the coming weeks. Accepted abstracts and presentations will be published in the symposium proceedings. We look forward to seeing the great work already being done at Clemson University in the world of food systems!

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
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