Summer Updates

It is already the end of August. The semester is starting again. The ten days spent is Spain in the early summer feel like an eternity away. The summer evaporated in a busy stream of travel, conferences, training and writing. Yet, this summer is different that others in recent past. It marks several transitions, starting by passing the three-year mark on the tenure track and submitting my first book manuscript for review…

I submitted my book manuscript for review in late June. The book, initially titled, “Eating in Movement,” took about five years to complete. It examines Hispanic Caribbean cuisine and migration in a transnational context. This blog has documented some of this work in progress. Upon submitting the manuscript, I felt a great sense of relief when I received confirmation that the book was out for review.  I now await further work on the next steps and future of this work in the coming months.

Soon after hitting “send” on my book manuscript submission email, I turned to the next task on my list: my first grant for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The seed for the grant was planted last summer. I applied and was accepted to the NIH Programs to Increase Diversity among Individuals Engaged in Health-related Research (PRIDE) Research in Implementation Science for Health Equity (RISE) training hosted by the University of California San Francisco. During the two intense and rewarding weeks of training, I started playing with the idea of designing an intervention to motivate Hispanic Caribbean restaurants to improve cardiovascular health in the community. This idea, while far fetched at first, has since become the seed of my research grant application and, hopefully, the basis for the next step in my research agenda in the coming years.  Since the summer of 2017, I have been advancing this work with the support of this amazing group peer and faculty mentors – seen here at the conclusion of the training this summer 2018:

RISE Fellows and Mentors (Source: Twitter/UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations)

I am now in the final stretch of this long process, with a goal of submitting the application by the end of September.

The project proposed in the grant is a shift in my research agenda, from focusing on individual cultural factors to addressing food environments and policy. Another project that has been key in this shift is my ongoing research examining soda tax policy implementation in Mexico and Chile. This project was funded through the Professional Staff Congress – City University of New York Research Award Program. A year into the project, we can finally see the end of the data collection in sight. The project will then move to analysis and write up through the fall (and most likely beyond). Of course, more on this soon!

I wrapped up the summer with one last conference – the World Universities symposium in Toronto, where I had the chance to present on Hispanic Caribbean migration.

Presenting at WC2 Toronto August 2018 (Thanks to R. Ilieva for the photo)

I did my best to consolidate my book project in 15 minutes. It was a tall order! Yet, the failed attempt resulted in fruitful conversations, comparing immigrant food experiences across global cities. I learned from colleagues in Mexico City, London, and Toronto. We also had the great opportunity to witness discussions around a new national children nutrition program in Canada.

CUNY Professor and community food advocate, Dr. Janet Poppendieck, sharing lessons learned from the US School Lunch Program with Canadian policymakers

I officially start classes tomorrow. My inbox is already populated by student emails and my calendar will soon include more meetings and committee work. There is much to look forward to these coming month: the faith of my first book and grant application, as well as the continued evolution of my research through writing and collaborations. I hope to share more of this work. Stay tuned!