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Student Biographies

PhD, Food Studies

Juan Carlos Sánchez Herrera

Juan Carlos Sánchez Herrera was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Juan earned his BA in Economics and History and MA in Social Anthropology from Universidad de los Andes. His academic and professional experience are in different fields such as Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Quantitative Researcher, Credit Risk Analyst and Freelance writer on various projects that allow him to offer a multidisciplinary approach to his research interests.

Juan's research project examines how ingredient combinations and recipes develop over time. His approximation draws upon network analysis, digital humanities, and economic history. His research relies on a new dataset consisting of more than 5000 recipes spanning 40 years. He has received several awards supporting his research, NYU Global Research Initiative NYU London (2018), Tinker Field Research Grant. NYU CLACS (2017), Doctorados en el Exterior. Colciencias, Colombia (2014), Programa Crédito Beca. Colfuturo, Colombia (2014).

Eric Himmelfarb

Eric Himmelfarb

Eric Himmelfarb researches food system poetics: how poetry reflects current material conditions in food, embodies alternative food system relations, and ultimately helps to inspire and bring about tangible, systemic change. To do so, he explores the reading and writing of poetry as a mode of food system analysis, critique, and creative reimagining. Prior to entering the doctoral program, he was an adjunct professor in the NYU Food Studies program, where he designed and taught Food in the Arts: the Poetic Voice, a course that uses a writing workshop model to engage with political and social issues in food. Eric also worked for six years at City Harvest, a non-profit anti-hunger organization in New York City, first in fundraising and then in operations as a manager of food sourcing and procurement. He has a BA in English from Georgetown University and an MA in Food Studies from NYU.

Kelila Jaffe

Kelila Jaffe received a BA with distinction in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, before attending the University of Auckland, where she earned an MA (honours, second class, first division) in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology. Kelila's research interests include past foodways, domestication, and zooarchaeology. She has conducted fieldwork in Fiji, New Zealand, and Hawaii, and has worked with numerous museum collections. Her dissertation examines human-animal interactions in dietary transitions through the archaeological record. Originally from Sonoma, CA, Kelila is also a professional chef. Kelila has won several grants and awards to support her research including the Dean's Grant for Graduate Student Research and the International Council for Archaeozoology Travel Award.

Steven McCutcheon Rubio

Steven McCutcheon Rubio standing in front of a curtain made of dried ears of corn hung on string.

Steven McCutcheon Rubio is a PhD candidate whose work focuses on agrarian change in contemporary Latin America. His dissertation is a historical and ethnographic study of agrarian movements in Mexico that explores the material and semiotic processes shaping social movements’ political orientations. He is an MMUF Fellow, and his research has received support from the Tinker Foundation, SSRC-MMUF, and the NYU Provost’s Global Research Initiatives. 

Steven is an experienced multidisciplinary researcher and teacher. He has collaborated on: the fieldwork phase of a research project on the State, agricultural development, and natural resource management in northern Peru; a historical project on Mexican migrant workers in the US during WWI; and a qualitative project on urban agriculture and social justice initiatives in New York City that culminated in the publication of Beyond the Kale: Urban Agriculture and Social Justice Activism in New York City (University of Georgia Press, 2016). As a Visiting Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore, Steven proposed, developed, and taught the school’s first food studies course. At NYU, he redesigned, co-organized, and assisted in imparting Global Food Cultures: Mexico, a weeklong study-abroad course.

Steven also has significant journalistic and editorial experience. He has worked as editor for Americas Quarterly and as a freelance food and travel writer in Mexico. He holds an MA in Food Studies-Food Systems from NYU and an AB in Comparative Literature (Spanish and French) from Princeton University.

Cheng Qiu

Cheng Qiu conducts ethnographic research on the political ecologies and the emerging discourse about China’s agrifood systems transformation. Prior to joining the NYU Food Studies program, Cheng conducted development research at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in D.C. and promoted agroecology as Food & Agriculture Senior Campaigner in Greenpeace Beijing. Cheng holds a BA in Economics from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law and a master's of Public Affairs from Cornell University. She is also the founder of a China-focused social enterprise with the mission to nurture change-makers to restore human-nature relationships through food. She collaborates with a wide network of partners to promote food forests/forest gardens (perennial poly-culture agricultural systems), urban agriculture and composting systems, food education programs, and alternative food networks in China. She served as a Teaching Assistant for the Global Food Cultures: Shanghai course at NYU.

Jennifer Shutek

Jennifer Shutek

Photo courtesy of Fatina Dahli photography

Jennifer Shutek, a PhD candidate in Food Studies, researches the intersections of urbanism, migration, nation-building, and foodways in Palestine/Israel. Her dissertation focuses on consumption, sensoria, and surveillance in three loci: sabich stands in Tel Aviv; Hansen House in Jerusalem; and the souq in Bethlehem. Drawing on historical sources, ethnographic methods, and cultural studies, Jennifer explores the ways in which politics, conflict, and migration impact quotidian sensorial landscapes. 

She began her academic career at Simon Fraser University, where she completed her BA with a major in Middle Eastern and Islamic history and a minor in literature. During her M.Phil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford, Jennifer studied Modern Standard Arabic, conducted fieldwork in Palestine/Israel, and wrote her thesis on ways in which Palestinian and Israeli cookbooks and food media reflect and shape gastronationalism and gastrodiplomacy.

Jennifer’s interest in languages has inspired her studies in French and Arabic (fuṣḥa and amiyya), which she has used in her research and field work. She also has beginner knowledge of Hebrew, Italian, and Russian. Her passion for languages extends to teaching.

Over a decade of teaching inside and outside of academia has given Jennifer extensive pedagogical experience. As well as teaching children’s cooking classes, ESL, and experiential learning courses in Germany, Poland, and New York, Jennifer has taught a diverse array of academic courses. She has worked as a teaching assistant in Middle Eastern History and Food Studies courses, participated in the development of and taught an online asynchronous course on food in urban environments, and has developed a syllabus for and taught a course on food, media, and cultural capital in New York City (delivered both as an in-person and as an online synchronous course).

Jennifer also has experience in journalism, editing, and social media management. She has had pieces published in Live Encounters, Raseef22, Vice, Anthrodendum, and The Historical Cooking Project and served as an editor and weekly contributor with Muftah magazine. Additionally, Jennifer has served as an editor of academic articles and books (including copy and line editing Ella Shohat’s On The Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements) and has experience in social media management and marketing.

Daniel Bowman Simon

Daniel Bowman Simon holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from New York University, a Master of Business Administration from University of the Pacific, and a Master of Urban Planning from New York University. In 2011, Daniel founded SNAP Gardens to raise awareness that SNAP benefits could be used to buy seeds and plants. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Daniel founded TheWhoFarm, a traveling, bus-based initiative that visited schools and farmers markets across America to collect petition signatures respectfully requesting that the new White House residents start a vegetable garden. The campaign was ultimately successful when First Lady Michelle Obama planted the White House Kitchen Garden. Prior to TheWhoFarm, Daniel spearheaded marketing and policy efforts at The Gaia Institute.  He was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines, focused on Business Advising for Youth Development, and taught English in Japan’s JET Programme. He has consulted for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and for the Generation Food film project. Daniel’s current research interest is the history of the United States government’s role in feeding hungry people, in the context of overall agricultural policy. He has co-instructed courses on Food Policy and Food Advocacy with his adviser Dr. Marion Nestle.