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Food Studies Student Named James Beard Foundation National Scholar

Abby Katz in a light blue dress seated in a chair outdoors.

Abby Katz (MA '21) is a 2021 James Beard Foundation National Scholar. She plans to pursue her doctorate in food policy, history, and health equity.

Abby Katz, who is currently pursuing her MA in Food Studies in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, is among 12 individuals nationwide selected for the 2021 James Beard Foundation National Scholars Program. The program awards $20,000 scholarships to food-focused candidates of exceptional talent who plan to pursue further education in the culinary arts, food studies, agriculture, hospitality management, and other related fields.  

We connected with Abby to learn more about her research interests, plans for the future, and what this accomplishment means to her.

What inspired you to pursue your master’s?

I have always wanted to pursue higher education, as I aspire to be a professor at a research institution. After graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2019, I felt a master’s program was most appropriate for me so I could obtain more relevant research experience and narrow my focus for further study. I was drawn to the Food Studies program at NYU Steinhardt because of its interdisciplinary nature, which felt very familiar after developing an individualized major called Food, Culture, and Sustainable Society at UConn.

How would you describe your research interests?

As an Afro-Latina, I love any opportunity to use food as a lens to talk about sociopolitical issues impacting Black and Latinx/e communities. I am broadly interested in food policy, food history, and health equity, but I’ve been really focused on studying food marketing targeted to Black and Latinx/e youth.

What does being a James Beard Foundation (JBF) National Scholars Program recipient mean to you?

I am honored to be selected as a JBF National Scholar. The James Beard Foundation is one of few organizations which specifically awards students in the field of food studies, so it feels incredibly validating to be selected by their committee. This award means that I will be able to finish out my master’s program without any additional financial strain, and will enable me to focus on all that lies ahead. I look forward to meeting the other scholars over the summer and hearing about all of their amazing work.

You’re also graduating this year – could you tell me about your plans for the future?

I look forward to getting to know my team at the Health Evaluation and Analytics Lab (HEAL) at NYU Langone Health and working with them on applied research projects. Beyond this, I am part of the 2021–2022 Cohort for the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) Associate Program which provides individualized support, advising, and financial assistance for graduate school applicants. With their assistance, I plan to apply to PhD programs this fall.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I really enjoy mentoring and speaking with prospective students, so feel free to send me a message at any time if you'd like to be in touch! I'm on LinkedIn as well as Instagram and Twitter at @abbypkatz.