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Nicholas Robinson, PhD student in Geography, wins the 2017 AAG Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group (GFASG) Graduate Research Grant

Nicholas Robinson is a PhD student at the University of California, Davis. He has a B.A. in global studies and in philosophy from UC Santa Barbara. He has worked as a researcher and community organizer in the fields of urban ecological infrastructure design, nuclear disarmament, and energy policy. Most recently, he developed and managed a mixed-vegetable market garden project in Iceland where he has lived part-time for six years. At UC Davis, he works as a research assistant for Dr. Ryan Galt on a wide-ranging study of fine-flavored cacao-chocolate commodity chains, and he is a teaching assistant for courses on food systems, rural community development, and organic crop production.

Broadly rooted in rural geography and political ecology of agriculture and food systems, Nick's research focuses on social-ecological systems of production, reproduction, and regeneration at the nexus of agrifood systems, energy production, and landscape design. The project analyzes the relationships between agrobiodiversity, beginning farmer transition, and alternative food networks (AFNs) within the context of climate change in the subarctic, working specifically on a case study of south Iceland. Research indicates that farmer challenges such as consolidated domestic agrifood markets, environmental degradation, and shifting generational socioeconomic opportunities can be met through intersections of agroecosystem diversification, the implementation of agroecological management methodologies, and connection with AFNs, yet both socioeconomic and climatic conditions in Iceland have historically limited the prospects for implementing these solutions on the island. This research explores how comparatively rapid regional warming in the subarctic region is combining with domestic socioeconomic changes in markets and production to create conditions for the development of agrobiodiversity and new opportunities for beginning farmers in Iceland.