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‘New Innovator’ receives recognition


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A faculty member in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) at the College of Social Sciences has won a national award for her research analyzing how the COVID pandemic affected and disrupted food supply chains in Hawaiʻi and Fiji.

Subhashni Raj, a DURP assistant professor, is one of 11 recipients of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s (FFAR’s) 2023 New Innovator Awards. The honor is bestowed on early-career scientists supporting research in one of FFAR’s research priority areas.

Raj’s projects focus on understanding the role of Indigenous and ancestral food pathways in maintaining food security during a crisis.

“Establishing food security post-disaster is critically important, yet marginalized or vulnerable communities – especially island communities – are less likely to be prioritized in these scenarios,” said Raj. “My hope is that, through this comparative research we will undertake In Fiji and Hawaii, we can demonstrate that creating space for traditional, cultural, ancestral, and indigenous foodways in our communities is central to building resilience.”

Raj, who has a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the State University of New York at Buffalo, was a Fulbright Scholar and Kaufman Doctoral Fellow in Food Systems Planning.

Cumulatively, the New Innovator Award recipients share a total of $4.8 million over three years.

Additional news stories from the College of Social Sciences.

Subhashni Raj
Students engaging in traditional weaving practices.
Students in PLAN/SUST 625 end the semester with their photovoice projects and engaging in traditional weaving practices led by Indrajit Samarasingha.
Students nurturing a loʻi patch at Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi.
Students in PLAN 616 end the semester by immersing themselves in the act of nurturing a loʻi patch at Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi.