Foundation Scholar Tara Mittelberg

The Chicago Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club and Northwestern University have sponsored Tara Mittelberg to make a circumnavigation in 2016 while conducting research on her selected topic: "GMOs: Progressing the Conversation".

Here is a link to Tara's blog & photos from her trip.

Background on Tara Mittelberg

Tara grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she attended Kennedy High School. As a sophomore, she learned about Dr. Norman Borlaug , who is credited with initiating the Green Revolution & saving one billion people from starvation through innovations in crop breeding & agronomy. Dr. Borlaug's legacy has inspired Tara to pursue a range of multidisciplinary opportunities researching & addressing global food insecurity & poverty.

In the summer after graduating high school, Tara traveled to Brazil as a Borlaug-Ruan International Intern through the World Food Prize Foundation, a Des Moines-based organization founded by Dr. Borlaug. Here, she worked at the agricultural research institution Embrapa-soja studying the genetics of Asian Soybean Rust, a fungal disease that devastates soy producers in the tropics. This experience sparked Tara's interest in agricultural science, particularly in the international sphere.

Tara is now at Northwestern majoring in Environmental Science & International Studies. Her career aspiration is researching agricultural science and/or policy. She was a World Food Prize Wallace-Carver Fellow, Land O'Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader for Food Security & the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Next Generation Delegate for Food Security. Last fall Tara studied abroad in Ecuador, where she worked with smallholder farmers & the agricultural NGO Colinas Verdes to research local market opportunities for their organic vegetables.

While on campus, Tara serves as an executive board member of the Northwestern Community for Human Rights (NUCHR), a student group that serves as an educational forum for discussing both domestic & international human rights issues. In her spare time she enjoys running along Lake Michigan, exploring Chicago's neighborhoods, cooking (and eating) new recipes, and cross-country skiing.

Tara Mitteberg's Research Topic

Tara's experiences with the science, business & social side of food security exposed her to many different viewpoints on the cultivation of genetically modified crops ("GMOs"). This made her question, why is the conversation so often reduced to "pro-GMO" vs. "anti-GMO" when there are so many different factors at play depending on the situation? What are the unique challenges & opportunities associated with the cultivation of genetically modified crops in different places around the world?

This summer Tara will investigate these questions in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, Malaysia & the Philippines. In each location, she will visit agricultural research institutions & smallholder farmers that research & cultivate genetically modified crops. Tara hopes that by revealing & analyzing the subtle similarities & differences among her locations, she will progress the conversation on GMOs to one that is more nuanced than it is now.

Itinerary of Circumnavigation (draft)

Tara will be visiting these countries during her circumnavigation in the summer of 2016.

  • Argentina 15 June
  • Brazil - 26 June
  • South Africa 11 July
  • Ghana 23 July
  • Malaysia 6 August
  • The Philippines 17 August