Food Systems

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The food systems minor, hosted by the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management (ESPM) in the Rausser College of Natural Resources, is an interdisciplinary program of study that explores the role of food within the environment and society. Drawing from diverse fields as far-ranging as ecology, sociology, the humanities, nutrition, history, and economics, the food systems minor critically examines issues of contemporary food and agriculture from a whole-systems perspective.

Students take five courses, one of which can be lower division and one of which can overlap with their major. A required community engagement project during the junior or senior spring allows students to bring together what they have learned in a real-world setting.

Students who complete the minor will gain a broad and interdisciplinary understanding of critical themes and concepts related to the social, political, economic, environmental, cultural, nutritional, and public health issues of contemporary food and agriculture systems both domestically and internationally.

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Minor Requirements

General Guidelines

Courses must be taken for a letter grade unless the course is only offered on a Pass/No Pass basis. The student must achieve at least a C (2.0) average in the courses taken in satisfaction of a minor program. Students may take one lower division course to count toward the major requirements and may overlap one course, lower or upper division, with their major requirements. The five courses taken for the major, two core courses, two elective courses, and the experiential learning course must total at least 15 units.

All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the minor advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process. 

The requirements of the minor include:

1. Two Core Courses

Choose two courses, from two different categories listed below.

Natural Sciences
Agricultural Ecology [4]
Science of Soils [3]
Sustainable Water and Food Security [4]
Environmental Plant Biology [2]
Social Sciences
Treaty Rights and Food Fights: The Native American Food Sovereignty Movement [4]
Sociology and Political Ecology of Agro-Food Systems [4]
Food and the Environment [4]
Selected Topics in Social Inequality: Social Problems of the Food Industry [3] (topic must be: Social Problems of the Food Industry)
Cultural Perspectives of Food [3]
Food and Community Health
Treaty Rights and Food Fights: The Native American Food Sovereignty Movement [4]
Introduction to Human Nutrition [3] (*)
Special Topics in Public Health [1-4] (Topic must be Global Nutrition***)

2. Two Elective Courses

Choose two courses from the categories below. A minimum of one elective must be from the category not chosen for a core course. Core course options not taken to fulfill the core course requirement can be counted toward the elective requirement.*

Natural Sciences
Insect Ecology [3]
Urban Garden Ecosystems [4]
Agricultural Ecology [4] **
Science of Soils [3] **
Soil Microbiology and Biogeochemistry [3]
Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology [3]
Special Topics in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management [2-4] (Topic Green Water, Brown Ground and Global Food Security***)
Biodiversity Conservation in Working Landscapes [4]
Sustainable Water and Food Security [4]
Grassland and Woodland Management and Conservation [4]
The (Secret) Life of Plants [3]
Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants [3]
Modern Applications of Plant Biotechnology [2]
Environmental Plant Biology [2] **
Social Sciences
History 2 Foodways: A Global History***
The Anthropology of Food [4]
Planning for Sustainability [4]
Economics of Race, Agriculture, and the Environment [3]
Industrial Organization with Applications to Agriculture and Natural Resources [4]
Economics of Poverty and Technology [3]
Economics of Water Resources [3]
Sociology and Political Ecology of Agro-Food Systems [4]
Environmental Justice: Race, Class, Equity, and the Environment [4]
International Rural Development Policy [4]
Political Ecology [4]
Food and the Environment [4] **
Special Topics in Geography [3] (Topic must be The Political Ecology of Land Grabs: Food, Resources, Environment and Development)
Perspectives For Sustainable Rural Development [4]
Comparative World History [4] (Topic must be Foodways: A Global History to count towards minor) **
Advanced Studies in International and Area Studies [4] (***Topic must be: Climate Change and Agriculture in Latin America)
Topics in Responsible Business [1-4] (Edible Education)
Food, Culture, and the Environment [2] (Or NUSCTX W104 [3])
Selected Topics in Social Inequality: Social Problems of the Food Industry [3] (Topic Social Problems of the Food Industry***)
Cultural Perspectives of Food [3]
Global Sociology [3]
Food and Community Health
Course Not Available [4]
Environmental Health and Development [4]
Introduction to Human Nutrition [3] **
Nutrient Function and Metabolism [3]
Food, Culture, and the Environment [2]
Introduction and Application of Food Science
and Application of Food Science Laboratory
Food Systems Organization and Management [4]
Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology [3]
Metabolic Bases of Human Health and Diseases [4]
Nutrition in the Community [3]
Global Health: A Multidisciplinary Examination [4]
Drinking Water and Health [3]
Special Topics in Public Health [4] (Topic Global Nutrition only*** )
*Only one lower division class OR up to two units of relevant upper division DeCal credit can count toward the minor. DeCal classes must be approved by the minor adviser and are considered outside the three elective categories: therefore they do not satisfy the requirement of a minimum of one elective taken from the category not chosen for a core course. Students can petition to include other relevant classes, including graduate or study abroad classes.
**Course is also a core course
***Only this course topic is eligible for the minor
Only one overlapping course (upper or lower division) between this minor and a major

3. Community Engagement Project

Students will complete three (3) units of experiential learning through ESPM 197, consisting of two hours/week of in-class time with approximately 7 hours per week spent on-the-ground with a partner organization. This course is only offered in spring terms and should be scheduled in the students' final spring semester. 

Experiential Learning through Engagement in Food Systems

Central to the goal of the minor is an experiential learning internship, to be taken during the student’s junior or senior year. During an entire semester (or longer if they choose), students will work with an organization focused on some aspect of food system change. Students will work with the Community Engagement Faculty Coordinator to identify a community engagement partner organization that fits best with the student's interest. Students will receive credit for community engagement through enrollment in ESPM 197. 

 Learn About Experiential Learning through Engagement in Food Systems

Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Rodrigo P. P. Almeida, Associate Professor. Disease ecology, vector, plant disease, Xylella fastidiosa, emerging.
Research Profile

Miguel A. Altieri, Professor. Agriculture, environmental science, pest management.
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Ronald Amundson, Professor. Pedology isotope biogeochemistry, impact of climate and life on earth processes, soils in biogeochemical cycles, human impacts on soils and ecosystems.
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Gary Anderson, Adjunct Professor. Microbial ecology, genomics, diversity in extreme environments.

Jodi Axelson, Assistant Cooperative Extention Specialist. Forest Health, insect outbreaks, forest ecology, resource management, Dendrochronology and wood anatomy.

Dennis D. Baldocchi, Professor. Biometeorology, biosphere-atmosphere trace gas fluxes, ecosystem ecology, climate change.
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Jillian Banfield, Professor. Nanoscience, Bioremediation, genomics, biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, geomicrobiology, MARS, minerology.
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John J. Battles, Professor. Forest Ecology and Ecosystem Dynamics.
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Steven R. Beissinger, Professor. Conservation, behavioral and population ecology.
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Gregory Biging, Professor. Forest Biometrics and Remote Sensing.
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Benjamin Blonder, Assistant Professor. Ecology, global change, plant ecophysiology, community ecology, biogeography, biodiversity, useful plants, machine learning, eco-informatics, mathematical modeling, remote sensing.
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Carl Boettiger, Assistant Professor. Theoretical ecology, ecoinformatics, modeling, data science, resilience, early warning signals, decision theory.
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Timothy Bowles, Assistant Professor. Agroecology, Sustainable Agriculture.
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Justin S. Brashares, Associate Professor. Wildlife, biodiversity, ecology, conservation, human livelihoods.
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Eoin Brodie, Assistant Adjunct Professor.
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Thomas D. Bruns, Professor. Microbial biology, plant biology, fungi, nucleic acid sequences, basidomycetes, ectomycorrhizal fungi communities.
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Stephanie M. Carlson, Associate Professor. Fish ecology, freshwater ecology, evolutionary ecology.
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Claudia J. Carr, Associate Professor. International and rural resource development.
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Ignacio Chapela, Associate Professor. Agriculture, biotechnology, environmental science, microbial biology, policy and management.
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Youjin Chung, Assistant Professor. Political economy of development, historical and feminist political ecology, critical food and agrarian studies, African studies, Tanzania, feminist theory, critical ethnography, visual methods.
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Paolo D'Odorico, Professor. Ecohydrology, surface hydrology, ecosystem ecology, Aeolian processes, desertfication, stohastic, nonlinear environmental dynamics, water and food security.
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Todd Dawson, Professor. Physiological plant ecology, evolutionary plant ecology, ecosystem processes, adaptations of plants, carbon, water, nitrogen.
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Kathryn De Master, Assistant Professor. Sociology and political ecology of agriculture, agrarian change, rural conservation and development, agri-environmental policy, food justice/sovereignty movements, heritage and terroir, diversified farming systems, participatory mapping.
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Perry De Valpine, Associate Professor. Population ecology, mathematical modeling and statistics.
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Richard S. Dodd, Professor. Tree genetics and systematics.
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Iryna Dronova, Associate Professor. Remote sensing, biodiversity, landscape ecology, nature-based climate solutions, wetlands, urban ecosystems.
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Damian O. Elias, Assistant Professor. Neuroethology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary biology of arthropods.
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Mary K. Firestone, Professor. Soils, environmental policy, environmental science, policy and management, wildlife, miicrobial biology.
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Brian L. Fisher, Associate Adjunct Professor. Entomology, Ants.
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Gordon Frankie, Professor. Urban entomology, policy, environmental policy, environmental science, pest management, management.
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Inez Fung, Professor. Global change, environmental policy, ecosystem scienes.
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Matteo Garbelotto, Adjunct Professor. Forest pathology, forest mycology, forest and tree management.
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Wayne Marcus Getz, Professor. Africa, disease ecology, wildlife conservation, resource management.
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Rosemary Gillespie, Professor. Evolutionary ecology, systematics, spider biology, conservation.
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* J. Gilless, Professor. Environmental policy, resource economics, forestry, forest economics, wildland fire.
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Manuela Girotto, Assistant Professor. Hydrologic response and interaction between natural and human driven processes, land surface remote sensing and multi-sensor, -spectrum, -resolution data assimilation; hydrology contribution to sea level change, snow hydrology.
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Allen Goldstein, Professor. Global change, air pollution, environmental science, biogeochemistry, atmospheric chemistry.
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Charles Griswold, Adjunct Professor. Entomology.

John Harte, Professor. Global change, ecology, sustainability, energy policy, theoretical ecology, biodiversityl.
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Elizabeth Hoover, Associate Professor. Native American food sovereignty and environmental health movements, seed sovereignty, environmental justice, food justice.
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Susan Hubbard, Adjunct Professor.

Lynn Huntsinger, Professor. Rangeland conservation and management.
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Alastair Iles, Associate Professor. Science, technology and environment, green chemistry, sustainability learning, environmental policy.
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David Kavanaugh, Adjunct Professor. Systematics, biogeography, evolution, and natural history of carabid beetles.
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Trevor Keenan, Assistant Professor. Global change, dynamic vegetation, carbon cycle, ecophysiology, land-atmosphere interactions, biogeochemistry, micrometeorology, remote sensing, mathematics and data science.

Maggi Kelly, Professor in Residence. Remote sensing, wetlands, ecosystem sciences, forests, geoinformatics, participatory web, GIS.
Research Profile

Siamak Khorram, Adjunct Professor. Remote sensing, image processing.

Claire Kremen, Professor. Conservation Biology, Pollination, Agroecology, Entomology.

Isao Kubo, Professor. Agriculture, insect biology, pest management.
Research Profile

Laura N. Lammers, Assistant Professor. Environmental geochemistry, crystal growth, mineral-fluid and fluid-fluid interfacial processes, contaminant transport.

Michael Mascarenhas, Associate Professor. Environmental Justice, Critical Race Theory, Political Ecology, Science & Technology Studies.
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Jonas Meckling, Assistant Professor. Climate policy, energy policy, political economy.
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Carolyn Merchant, Professor. Environmental history, philosophy and ethics.
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Adina M. Merenlender, Adjunct Professor. Conservation biology.
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Arthur Middleton, Assistant Professor. Wildlife ecology, management, and policy.

Nicholas J. Mills, Professor. Invasive species, Biological control, Population ecology, Entomology/Insect biology.
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Katharine Milton, Professor. Tropical ecology of humans and non-human primates diet parasite-host interactions.
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Rachel Morello-Frosch, Professor. Race and class determinants of the distribution of health risks associated with air pollution among diverse communities in the United States .
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Peter Nelson, Assistant Professor. Indigenous archaeology, Indigenous environmental studies, settler colonialism, Community-Based Participatory Research, California.
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Patrick M. O'Grady, Assistant Professor. Population genetics and phylogenetics of Drosophila, adaptive radiation, biogeography.
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Kevin O'Hara, Professor. Stand dynamics silviculture forest management.
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Kate O'Neill, Associate Professor. International environmental politics/ global political economy.
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Dara O'Rourke, Associate Professor. Environmental justice, globalization, industrial ecology, labor.
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Celine Pallud, Associate Professor. Biogeochemistry, iron reduction, metals and contaminants, soil aggregates, selenium kinetics of organic matter degradation, nitrate reduction, soil and environmental biogeophysics, biogeochemical cycles, fate and transport of nutrients, sulfate reduction, wetland soils, littoral sediments, spatial variation in biogeochemical processes.
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Nancy L. Peluso, Professor. Political ecology/resource policy and politics/forests/agrarian change/property and access.
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Matthew D. Potts, Associate Professor. Forest management, biofuels, plantation agriculture, land use planning, land use policy, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, tropical ecology, environmental economics.
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Robert Rhew, Associate Professor. Geography, terrestrial-atmosphere exchange of trace gases, atmospheric chemistry and composition, halogen biogeochemistry, stratospheric ozone depletion issues, coastal salt marsh, chaparral, desert, tundra, boreal forest, grassland.
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George Roderick, Professor. Invasion biology, Biodiversity science, Sustainability and global change, Insects.
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Erica B. Rosenblum, Assistant Professor. Evolutionary ecology, speciation and extinction, ecological genomics, herpetology, global change biology.
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Albert Ruhi, Assistant Professor. Freshwater ecology, biodiversity conservation, community ecology, global change.
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Whendee SIlver, Professor. Ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry.
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Scott L. Stephens, Professor. Wildland fire science, fire ecology, forest ecology, forest policy, forest management.
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Mark A. Tanouye, Professor. Genetics, neuroanatomy, electrophysiology, mechanisms of nervous system structure and function, drosophila mutants.
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Sunaura Taylor, Assistant Professor. Disability studies; crip theory; ableism; animal studies/ethics; interspecies; interdependence and theories of care; environmental humanities; ecofeminism; environmental justice; capitalism and inequality; work and labor.
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Neil Tsutsui, Professor. Genetics and behavior of social insects.
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Ian Wang, Assistant Professor. Landscape genetics, landscape ecology, ecological and conservation genomics.

Kipling Will, Associate Professor. Carabid beetles/ Insect Systematics/ Associate Director,Essig Museum of Entomology.
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David E. Winickoff, Associate Professor. Biotechnology, bioethics, environmental regulation, Science and Technology studies, geoengineering, technology transfer.
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Robert York, Adjunct Assistant Professor. Forest Ecology, Silviculture, Giant Sequoia restoration and ecology.
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Van Butsic, Assistant Specialist. Land systems science, conservation, environmental economics and policy, coupled human natural systems, GIS applications.
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Kent M. Daane, Specialist. Control of insect pests in agricultural crops.

Christy M. Getz, Associate Specialist. Ethics, history, politics, rural development.

Ted Grantham, Assistant Specialist. Freshwater ecology, stream hydrology, climate risk assessment, California water management and policy.

Vernard Lewis, Specialist. Biology and management of structural and household pests .
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Max A. Moritz, Associate Specialist. Fire Ecology and Management.
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Thomas A. Scott, Specialist. Wildlife conservation, human impacts on wildlife, wildlife/urban interface.

Jennifer Sowerwine, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist. Building equitable, economically viable and culturally relevant food systems in metropolitan areas that contribute to healthy communities, ecological diversity and sustainable livelihoods.

Richard B. Standiford, Cooperative Extension Specialist. Forest management.

William Stewart, Specialist. Watershed management, forest management, resource economics.

William D. Tietje, Specialist. Oak woodland ecology, human impacts on wildlife.


Kendra Klein, Lecturer.

Alan H. Krakauer, Lecturer.

Patina Mendez, Lecturer.

Kurt Spreyer, Lecturer.

Bridget M. Tracy, Lecturer.

Visiting Faculty

Daphne Miller, Visiting Associate Professor.

Emeritus Faculty

Barbara Allen-Diaz, Professor Emeritus. Rangeland ecology and management, Plant community ecology.
Research Profile

John R. Anderson, Professor Emeritus.

Reginald Barrett, Professor Emeritus. Wildlife biology and management.
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Frank Beall, Professor Emeritus.

David L. Brink, Professor Emeritus.

Leopoldo Caltagirone, Professor Emeritus.

* Howell V. Daly, Professor Emeritus. Biosystematics of bees, traditional and modern taxonomic procedures, including use of computers in classification and data analysis and management.

Harvey Doner, Professor Emeritus. Chemistry of trace elements in soils, mineral-organic compound interactions, and chemistry of carbonates and more soluble minerals in soils.

John Doyen, Professor Emeritus.

Sally Fairfax, Professor Emeritus.

Louis A. Falcon, Professor Emeritus.

Louise Fortmann, Professor Emeritus.

Paul L. Gersper, Professor Emeritus. Soil/plant relationships, land use.
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Peng Gong, Professor Emeritus. Remote Sensing and GIS.
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Andrew Gutierrez, Professor Emeritus. Systems ecology biological control.
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Joseph Hancock, Professor Emeritus.

Richard R. Harris, Specialist Emeritus. Forestry, resource management, riparian ecology.

John A. Helms, Professor Emeritus.

John Helms, Professor Emeritus.

Marjorie Hoy, Professor Emeritus.

Oenes Huisman, Professor Emeritus.

Robert S. Lane, Professor Emeritus.

William Libby, Professor Emeritus.

Werner Loher, Professor Emeritus.

* Joe R. McBride, Professor Emeritus. Forest ecology and urban forestry.
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John G. McColl, Professor Emeritus. Soil science: nutrient cycling, forest soils.
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Doug McCreary, Specialist Emeritus. Artificial regeneration of native California oaks.

Dale McCullough, Professor Emeritus. Wildlife biology and management.
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William Mckillop, Professor Emeritus. Forest economics, forest management, forest policy, timber supply, forestry economics.
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Gary Nakamura, Specialist Emeritus. Forestry and silviculture.

Nickolas Panopoulos, Professor Emeritus.

Rudolph Pipa, Professor Emeritus.

Jerry Powell, Professor Emeritus.

Alexander H. Purcell III, Professor Emeritus. Insect vectors of plant pathogens.

Stephen Quarles, Professor Emeritus.

Robert D. Raabe, Professor Emeritus. Ornamental pathology.

Jeffrey Romm, Professor Emeritus.

Vincent Rush, Professor Emeritus.

Milton Schroth, Professor Emeritus. Ecology, pathogen physiology, biocontrol.

John Shelly, Professor Emeritus.

Philip Spieth, Professor Emeritus. Population Genetics and Evolution.

Garrison Sposito, Professor Emeritus.

Robert Van Steenwyk, Professor Emeritus. Pest management, forestry, microbial biology.
Research Profile

Lawrence Waldron, Professor Emeritus.

Stephen C. Welter, Professor Emeritus. Plant-insect interactions and agricultural entomology.

W. Wayne Wilcox, Professor Emeritus.

David Wood, Professor Emeritus.

Eugene Zavarin, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Food Systems Minor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management

College of Natural Resources

Phone: 510-642-0542

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Co-Faculty Advisor

Kathryn De Master, PhD

Co-Faculty Advisor

Alastair Iles, PhD

Undergraduate Advisor

Meaghan DeRespini

260 Mulford Hall

Phone: 510-642-2879

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