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Student Spotlight

Jennifer Wilhelm

Ph.D. Student Profile: Jennifer Wilhelm

Degree: Natural Resources and Environmental Studies
Natural Resources and the Environment


Research Topic: Meeting the Growing Demand for Local Agriculture in New England: Implications for Carbon Stocks and the Maintenance of Ecosystem Services

Advisor: Dr. Richard G. Smith

Description of Research

New England is at the forefront of a nationwide push to increase local food production and food security. Given that much of the rural land available for agricultural conversion in this region is forested, shifting back to agriculture production will likely have significant effects on regional carbon sources and sinks. However, despite the dense population and development in New England, underutilized urban lands exist and could be repurposed for productive agricultural use. Given the functional ecological limitations of these marginal urban lands, agricultural conversion has the potential to enhance ecosystem services including carbon sink capacity, while at the same time could help meet the growing food demand. However, overall the scientific data in this area is lacking. My research aims to fill the gaps, providing policy makers, agricultural professionals, and landowners with the data needed to make informed decisions and advance effective solutions to developing a sustainable food system.   

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