Dr. Catherine Brinkley

Welcome to our Research Group

Your zip code may a better predictor of your health than your genetic code.

Food and energy supply impacts our everyday quality of life and the long-term sustainability of our cities and regions. The food we eat, the price it costs, the places we shop, and how we grow it all impact our health. Energy is similar. Vast networks connect sites of energy extraction with production and distribution, impacting the immediate environment as well as the climate in general.

But just how does land-use change health?

Is living in a food desert without easy access to a grocery store, a predictor of diabetes or obesity?  Will living next to a waste-to-energy plant impact the air quality or your property values?

More importantly, how can we make positive changes in the world around us? Would allowing street food vending be a low-cost alternative to financing a new supermarket? How might a city’s General Plans encourage the transition to a low-carbon economy?

Under the direction of Dr. Brinkley, ELFS provides applied research focused on planning for healthy communities. We use spatial analytics and qualitative methods to investigate disparities in health, policy and environmental outcomes around the food-energy-waste nexus. We focus policy recommendations on evidence-based solutions identified for and by the host community through collaborative research with community members, community-based organizations, and public officials. As part of the UC Davis Community and Regional Development Program in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences our education program emphasizes understanding local governance, economic development, and health policy.


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Our research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, and the University of California.