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‘A Geographic Perspective’

Falk College Professor Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern Receives American Association of Geographers Fellowship
Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern Portrait
Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern
Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, Ph.D., graduate director and associate professor of food studies in Falk College, was recently selected as a 2024 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Fellow.

AAG recognized 17 geographers in a variety of practice areas for their contributions to geographic research and advancement of practice, and careers devoted to strengthening the field of geography, including teaching and mentoring. The honorary title of AAG Fellow is conferred for life.

Minkoff-Zern is an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Geography and the Environment in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Department of Women’s and Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences; Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion in Maxwell; and the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration in Maxwell.

“It’s a huge honor to be recognized for my work in my home discipline of geography,” Minkoff-Zern says. “As an interdisciplinary scholar, I work across academic fields, looking at food systems with a geographic perspective, focusing on the migration of people and their agrarian knowledge and practices. This honor acknowledges not only my work, but the growing impact of food systems research on the broader discipline.”

AAG Fellows serve the AAG as a distinguished body to address, contribute to, and at times create initiatives to advance the discipline. Fellows also advise AAG on strategic directions and challenges, and mentor early- and mid-career faculty.

“Being named an AAG Fellow means I will join others in setting strategic initiatives and decisions for the organization, including taking part in committees, helping with broadening services and membership, and mentoring early-career geographers,” Minkoff-Zern says. “In recent years, the AAG has been strengthening its focus on accessibility and equity in the discipline through teaching and mentorship and advancing climate change research through interdisciplinary approaches. I hope to engage in reinforcing these efforts.”

The AAG Fellows Selection Committee chose the 2024 class of Fellows. The complete list of Fellows with their citations is available on the AAG website.

“The breadth and depth of experience among this year’s AAG Fellows is a tribute to their commitment and to the breadth of the discipline of geography,” said Gary Langham, executive director of AAG. “We are grateful for their insights and leadership in advancing AAG and the field.”

With her faculty affiliations in Falk College and the Maxwell School, Minkoff-Zern is at the forefront of bridging the disciplines of food studies and geography and has emerged as “a leader in a growing group of geographers who focus on issues of labor, race, and class within agriculture and food systems,” according to an AAG news release announcing the 2024 Fellows.

Minkoff-Zern is currently working on a funded research project sponsored through the Lender Center for Social Justice with Associate Professor of Geography Jonnell Robinson called “Food Policy Councils as a Vehicle to Address the Racial Wealth Gap in Food System.”

“This project looks at the role of Food Policy Councils in advancing labor justice for front line workers across the food chain, including living wage initiatives, support for unionization, and improved health and safety standards and enforcement,” Minkoff-Zern says.

Beyond her notable research, Minkoff-Zern is a leader in the subfield of food and agriculture, having served as chair and in many other roles in the AAG Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group. In this position, she helped steward the group toward new programs such as a scholarship for community food and agriculture partnership research.

Minkoff-Zern is the author of two books. “The New American Farmer: Immigration, Race, and the Struggle for Sustainability” tells the story of Mexican and Central American immigrants who are reshaping American farming by drawing on agricultural knowledge and practices from their home countries. Her second book, “Will Work for Food: Labor Across the Food Chain,” co-authoried with Teresa Mares, looks at labor across the food chain from farms to food processing and into the home, and explores the intersections between sustainability movements and labor organizing. This book will be published with the University of California Press in 2025.

About the AAG

For more than 100 years, The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has contributed to the advancement of geography. Members from nearly 100 countries share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography, which they cultivate through the AAG’s Annual Meeting and scholarly journals (Annals of the American Association of Geographers, The Professional Geographer, the AAG Review of Books and GeoHumanities). The AAG is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1904.