Col­lege re­ceives grant for food lab

The Kent Island Bay Times - - The Gunston School -

CH­ESTER­TOWN — For the second year in a row, Washington Col­lege has been awarded a grant from the Mary­land De­part­ment of Com­merce as part of its Mary­land E-Nno­va­tion Ini­tia­tive, a pro­gram de­signed to spur ba­sic and ap­plied re­search in sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal fields.

Cou­pled with gifts of $1 mil­lion from donors, the MEI grant of $944,000 will sup­port an en­dowed chair in sus­tain­able food sys­tems for the col­lege’s new East­ern Shore Food Lab.

The MEI grant was made pos­si­ble by a pledge of $1 mil­lion from Daryl Swanstrom, a mem­ber of the col­lege’s board of vis­i­tors and gov­er­nors, with tran­si­tional fund­ing by board mem­bers Ed­ward P. Nord­berg, Ann Horner and Pa­trick W. Al­len­der, who helped meet the im­me­di­ate grant re­quire­ments.

“Prob­lem-solving and an­a­lyt­i­cal skills are the heart of the lib­eral arts ed­u­ca­tion. When our stu­dents bring those skills to bear on in­no­va­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties like the East­ern Shore Food Lab, creative so­lu­tions to com­plex prob­lems are the re­sult,” col­lege Pres­i­dent Sheila Bair said in a news re­lease an­nounc­ing the grant, adding that it will help Washington Col­lege pro­pel new think­ing and ac­tion to­ward cre­at­ing more sus­tain­able food sys­tems on the Shore and well beyond.

The East­ern Shore Food Lab will be an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary lab­o­ra­tory ded­i­cated to study­ing and ex­per­i­ment­ing with sus­tain­able food sys­tems, us­ing Shore cuisine as its pri­mary con­text. By study­ing the re­sources unique to the re­gion, based on weather, cli­mate, soil chem­istry, mi­cro­bial bi­ol­ogy and fus­ing his­tor­i­cal foods with mod­ern tech­nolo­gies, fac­ulty, stu­dents and col­lab­o­ra­tive re­searchers will re-en­vi­sion our food sys­tem.

The lab will ad­dress is­sues of food, diet, health, ac­cess, sus­tain­abil­ity and hu­man and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­la­tion­ships through in­no­va­tive teach­ing and learn­ing, cut­ting edge re­search and mean­ing­ful food pro­duc­tion. Al­though the lab’s work will spring from the lo­cal, the so­lu­tions it en­vi­sions will be scal­able to other food cul­tures around the coun­try and the world.

Funded through the MEI grant, the first chair­man of the food lab will be Bill Schindler, chair­man of the De­part­ment of An­thro­pol­ogy. A be­hav­ioral science ex­pert in prim­i­tive tech­nolo­gies, food pro­duc­tion, di­etary health and cul­tural mean­ings of food, Schindler is in­ter­ested in how the food lab can work to change mod­ern western per­cep­tions of food.

Cre­ated by the Gen­eral Assem­bly in 2014, the MEI pro­gram aims to spur ba­sic and ap­plied re­search in sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal fields at the state’s col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties.

In 2016, Washington Col­lege re­ceived an MEI grant of $1 mil­lion to cre­ate an en­dowed po­si­tion at the Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­ment & So­ci­ety, the chief of en­tre­pre­neur­ial science.

Bill Schindler, shown here teach­ing stu­dents about for­ag­ing for foods from trees and plants that grow on cam­pus and nearby, is to be the first chair­man of the EasternShore Food Lab at Washington Col­lege.

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