Introducing Tammara Soma, CERi Researcher-in-Residence

February 04, 2021

We’re pleased to announce that Dr. Tammara Soma is joining CERi as Researcher-in-Residence from January to August 2021.

Soma is a food systems planner and a food waste expert with a heart for equity and justice. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University where she conducts community-based research on food system planning, waste management and the circular economy.

Community-engaged research is integral to the work Soma does. She views community-engaged research as having 3 pillars:

  1. Being driven by community needs; 
  2. Developing meaningful relationships with community partners; and
  3. Ensuring community members are treated equitably and respectfully in the process. 

“I feel like my role at CERi as a community-engaged research scholar is a way to build partnerships and relationships that will lead to a more just world,” says Soma. She feels energized to join CERi as a Researcher-in-Residence because she sees it as an institution that puts community at the forefront.

Soma is also the Co-Founder of Food Systems Lab, the first social innovation lab in Canada tackling food systems and food waste issues. She launched the lab with her colleague, Belinda Li, to combat the band-aid solutions to food waste issues that she often witnessed. Soma describes how “food waste solutions promoted in the policy and academic world are not very concerned with equity and justice,” and she co-founded the Food Systems Lab to meaningfully centre justice in this work.

For Soma, food justice means “ending a tiered and hierarchical system whereby members of our population can have access to the best products while others have to deal with the remnants of corporate food waste.” For her, it is crucial that collectively, we don’t view food, water, land and people as siloed commodities, but rather as entities having interconnected relationships. 

Wherever there are earthlings that would like to create a better planet together, I feel like I could be part of that community.

Community has a planetary dimension for Soma. “Wherever there are earthlings that would like to create a better planet together, I feel like I could be part of that community,” she says. Her conception of community is grounded in finding the connections between people, communities and the collective work toward justice.

In addition to her current residency at CERi, Soma was also a participant in CERi’s Community-Engaged Research Funding Program where she partnerd with the National Zero Waste Council to examine how businesses that are focused on sustainable practices adapted during COVID-19.

Photo: Pamela Lim

Connect with Tammara Soma

Twitter: @TammaraSoma

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