Stockbridge proudly stands at the intersection of rigorous research and public policy.  Cam Anderson, PhD candidate in Environmental Conservation, went to Washington DC to advocate in Congress for agricultural and climate policies that are based in peer-reviewed research.

The Stockbridge School's cutting-edge research on soil health and food safety recently led the USDA to enlist the help of Stockbridge professor Dr. Om Parkash Dhankher, who convened a panel of subject experts and developed a policy report that today guides federal food safety policy and recommends investments in its implementation.

Anderson, who studies soil carbon cycling in dynamic floodplain ecosystems, has a similar interest in using emergent research to shape policy development and implementation.  Anderson's research has recently identified dramatic differences in carbon and nutrient losses as climate change alters flooding patterns across our national geography.

"How do my research findings about climate-change driven shifts in soil biogeochemical processes translate to management strategies of agricultural soils?" asks Anderson.

To pursue that question, Anderson applied for, and won, a Future Leaders of Science Award, competitively bestowed by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), an international society of professionals that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils.  As part of the award, Anderson received policy, communication, and advocacy training preparing them to effectively work with Congress to catalyze change.

A group of advocates poses on the steps of the Capitol building

This February, Anderson joined a team of award winners from allied agronomy and crop science organizations for Congressional Visits Day.  One goal of the day was to highlight certain priorities in the Farm Bill.

After learning how to have effective meetings with busy congressional representatives, Anderson led their team's meeting with the office of Rep. Jim McGovern (D), who represents the second district of Massachusetts and the home of UMass Amherst.

"We discussed the importance of research in bringing us towards a safe, secure, and accessible food system," reports Anderson

Rep. McGovern is already a vocal supporter of health soils and food security.  Anderson was able to discuss their own research, and also advocated for the importance of funding similar research,

"Because it generates better understandings of soil health, carbon storage, and how such knowledge can inform management decisions, an investment in agro-ecological research is an investment in climate solutions."

Anderson highlighted the Massachusetts Healthy Soils Actions Plan to which several Stockbridge faculty contributed their expertise, as well as other research happening at Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

As Anderson completes their PhD and explores future career directions, Stockbridge research will have another champion advocating for national policies that promote more sustainable management of our soils and food supply.