Sam Gailey is a first year PhD candidate in Social Ecology. Sam received her B.A. in Psychology at Gettysburg College in 2015. Her research is focused on how our physical environments may exacerbate health and wealth disparities and how interventions can be designed to promote health in low-income communities. In her free time, you can find Sam exploring the outdoors through mountain biking and hiking the many trails of Southern California!
Q: How did you hear about the center? What brought you in contact with CUSA?
I first heard about CUSA when I came to visit UC Irvine in the Spring of 2015. At the time, I was deciding between two programs: Social Ecology and an applied psychology program. After hearing Dr. Matthew talk about CUSA’s research focus, I knew UCI was the place for me. When I arrived in the fall, my friend and colleague, Connor Harron, invited me to the first CUSA meeting, and I’ve been involved here ever since. Currently, I’m working on a commentary about food justice in response to the first Global Food Summit, helping to organize several conferences coming up this winter and spring, and pursuing a variety of other personal research projects that align with CUSA’s mission.
Q: How do you think you (personally) and your research’s area of focus align with CUSA’s overall mission?
CUSA focuses on how the changing global climate underpins and intensifies a variety of security challenges, particularly those faced by developing nations. One of my primary research interests involves understanding how the changing food system, accelerated by climate change and urbanization, affects food security and malnutrition in low-income populations. Hopefully, by understanding the risk factors and processes that lead to food insecurity, I can help inform and design solutions that improve nutrition in communities of heightened vulnerability.
Q: Have you chosen a research project to pursue at CUSA? If so, can you describe it? If not, what current research topics/projects at CUSA interest you most?
I am involved in a variety of food justice initiatives. I also hope to play a role in the upcoming research in La Paz. Specifically, by helping to redesign public spaces to improve health in the community. I’m also currently doing a comparative study of grassroots efforts to address malnutrition, and I hope to use La Paz as a case study.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish while at CUSA?
CUSA provides a great opportunity for cross-cultural, action-oriented research, through which I hope to gain a greater understanding of the processes that drive health inequalities across a variety of contexts. With this information, I hope to optimize intervention benefits and promote the dissemination of my findings to inform future research aimed at improving health in vulnerable communities.