Share Tweet Share Email

Virtual discussions to focus on innovation in food systems

February 26, 2021

A new NIU series of Innovation Conversations will bring in experts from across Illinois and around the world to discuss sustainable food systems.

The Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability (NICCS) and the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships (RIPS) Office of Innovation are sponsoring the events.

“This virtual series of conversations features some high-level experts and aims to spark ideas and demonstrate NIU’s potential in food innovation,” said Bryan Flower, RIPS assistant director of food systems innovation. “We hope to draw the interest of students, faculty, community members, local businesses, farmers and anyone else involved in or concerned about these topics.”

The inaugural event will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 4. Registration is required. The discussion will feature Tyler Strom, managing director of Illinois Agri-Food Alliance, who will discuss opportunities for food systems innovations in our backyards and beyond.

Strom leads strategy, management and operations for Illinois Agri-Food Alliance. The statewide consortium of agri-food leaders is strengthening the competitive and sustainable power of the agri-food system while innovating solutions to 21st century challenges.

Prior to his current role, Strom was a fellow of global agriculture and food at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the leading foreign affairs institution in the Midwest committed to educating the public, and influencing public discourse, on global issues of the day.

A fourth-generation farmer, Strom also produces row-crops and mixed specialty crops. As a McCloy Fellow, he traveled to Germany to research the roles that the country’s academic, policy, corporate and civic institutions play in understanding the linkages between climate change and food security and developing sound and sustainable food and agricultural policies.

While the semester lineup is still being completed, Innovation Conversations will generally be held at 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Flower said. The events are free and open to the public; check the NIU Calendar for details and registration information. Other speakers this semester will include:

  • The Joe Mitchel of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in DeKalb, who will speak about food insecurity and equity (March 11).
  • Daniel Baertschi of Basel, Switzerland, who will discuss regenerative farming and potential technology (March 25).
  • Max DuBuisson of Boston-based Indigo Ag Inc., who will speak on carbon sequestration.
  • Sapna Sanders, of France-based InnovaFeed, who will talk about alternate sustainable protein feed sources.
  • And Diane Renner of the Aurora based Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry, who will speak about challenges facing food pantries in a global pandemic.