NSF Awards Set A High Bar For Research Excellence - Colleen Hammelman

Monday, March 22, 2021

From Inside UNC Charlotte: "Every great city has a great research university." Most of my colleagues have heard me say this a time or two. This certainly is true of the Charlotte region — and UNC Charlotte. Driving this home are the members of our faculty recognized recently for their promise with Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards from the National Science FoundationNSF CAREER Project: “Population Change and Gentrification in Urban Foodscapes” $461,000 through 2025

Colleen Hammelman, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, possesses a deep expertise in social justice in urban food systems across the Americas that leads her toward finding solutions to specific problems faced in many cities.

Systematically investigating the ways migrants’ food landscapes scapes are changing as a result of urban restructuring in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington D.C., Hammelman is addressing where in the cities migrants are constructing new foodscapes and the implications of foodscape relocation for migrant economic outcomes, social service provision and neighborhood integration. Her work also considers how migrant placemaking practice has been differentially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Charlotte is an incredibly relevant place to study and teach about urban geography," Hammelman said. "From its history as a trading post to becoming today’s banking center, but also the vibrant history of African-American neighborhoods and the growing influence of migrant communities, it offers a first-hand opportunity to understand urban processes."

What about urban foodscapes interests you?

Hammelman: "I first began working on issues of social justice in food systems in response to the World Food Crisis in 2008 and 2009, during which urban residents, in particular, were unable to purchase food staples because of the global economic crisis and a rapid increase in oil and food prices. Protests worldwide made visible the dysfunction in global political economic systems that produce hunger."

How does your research affect your teaching? What do your students bring to the research process? 

Hammelman: "I explore topics and theories in the classroom that have relevance to my research and I bring my research projects directly into the classroom via experiential projects for students. Most recently — and with the support of this grant — I developed a writing-intensive course, "Food, Migration, & Place," through which students will engage with literature on these topics, build technical writing skills by creating StoryMaps about migrant food artifacts, and learn to understand landscape change through participating in field surveys. The StoryMaps and field surveys bring students directly into the data collection process for this research project, while also building technical skills to prepare them for their future careers."

More can be found here.