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AAEA Trust Profile: Christiane Schroeter

AAEA Trust Profile is a new bi-monthly series following up with AAEA Trust sponsored scholarship, fellowship and grant winners. This issue features Christiane Schroeter, Associate Professor in the Agribusiness Department at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Christiane won the Sylvia Lane Mentor Fellowship in 2008 and 2013. The Lane Mentor Fellowship provides an opportunity for young female scholars working on food, agricultural, or resource issues to collaborate with an established expert at another university, institution, or firm.

How did winning the Sylvia Lane Mentor Fellowship help accomplish your research in 2008?

The 2008 Sylvia Lane Mentor Fellowship started a research relationship that has been active for the past six years. The Fellowship allowed me to collect student data about dietary and health knowledge, and food culture at the University of Florida and Arkansas State University. We conducted electronic surveys using professional software, which allowed us to obtain a 24-hour recall of students’ dietary intake.  Without the fellowship, this research would not have been possible because it provided us the resources to purchase this software.

The research findings were submitted to the Agribusiness & Food World Forum of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, where it was selected for the Best Paper Award competition. Our manuscript was also published in the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review. I successfully applied for additional grant funding, which supported one M.S. and one B.S. student’s research projects. Based on this additional data collection at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I oversaw one senior project and one Master’s thesis. These student projects were presented at the 2009 IAMA meetings in Monterey, CA.

Your mentor then was Lisa House, University of Florida; do you still
collaborate with her?

Yes, I still work with Lisa and she continues to be a mentor. I have a great amount of trust in her and respect for her work. One result is that whenever I put together a session for a conference, I check with her to see whether she has any papers that might fit into the proposed session. I know that she is reliable and will provide a stimulating contribution. Since 2008, we have jointly organized several track sessions and organized symposia for AAEA. I also contact her when I have a job-related question such as about Tenure and Promotion, and she is always helpful in providing guidance as my mentor. Lisa and I greatly enjoyed our joint research experience on food culture and we continued working on this project. In 2013, we submitted another paper for publication based on an additional data collection and analysis.

You won the Lane Fellowship last year for your research proposal on "Estimating the Relationship between Social Networks and Obesity", what is the status of your research?

The Sylvia Lane Fellowship has facilitated this research by establishing the relationship with Tim Richards at Arizona State and allowing me to work on a project that might continue for the next few years. The fellowship supported my visit to work with Tim Richards at ASU in December 2013. I look forward to working on this project with Tim to glean more of his expertise and guidance. Currently, we are in the process of applying for a large-scale national grant, which would fund several years of data collection and analysis. We are also applying for smaller grant proposals and will present our research about the impact of social networks on obesity as part of conference presentations.

How did you meet your mentors for this fellowship?

I met both of my mentors at the AAEA Annual Meetings, which provide great networking opportunities. I have been active in various leadership functions of the AAEA for the past 12 years. Lisa House was instrumental in getting the Graduate Student Section (GSS) started by organizing the case study competition. I met Lisa as I began my involvement on the executive board of the GSS while I was a graduate student at Purdue University in 2003. A year later, I became the GSS chair-elect and chair in 2004 and 2005, respectively. I met Tim at the 2007 AAEA meetings during a paper presentation in Portland, OR. Given our common research interests, our paths frequently crossed at professional meetings. Tim worked with Steve Hamilton, my colleague at Cal Poly, on a project related to social networks and food choice. In 2012, we started talking about a joint research project on social networks and obesity.

What led you to pursue food and agricultural economics?

I have long been passionate about food intake and health. However, I knew that I did not want to work in a lab as a scientist. Through an internship as Marketing Assistant with the Federal German Department of Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry, I discovered my passion in analyzing consumer choice behavior with regard to food consumption. I greatly enjoy my research on the economics of obesity and I am appreciative for my great mentors along my career path.