Meredith T. Niles

Meredith T. Niles
University of Vermont | UVM · Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences

PhD

About

157
Publications
31,183
Reads
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3,312
Citations
Citations since 2017
133 Research Items
3131 Citations
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Introduction
Meredith is an interdisciplinary food systems scientist that works at the interface of social-ecological and food systems. Her research focuses on barriers for achieving sustainable food security including: 1) Understanding drivers and barriers for food system actors to adopt behaviors that facilitate sustainable food systems and; 2) assessing the impact of extreme events and disasters (climate change, extreme weather events, and COVID-19) on food security and health outcomes.
Additional affiliations
August 2015 - present
University of Vermont
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
September 2014 - August 2015
Harvard University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
September 2009 - August 2014
University of California, Davis
Position
  • PhD Student/Candidate

Publications

Publications (157)
Preprint
The adoption of sustainable agriculture practices is critical for future ecological, food security, and farmer livelihood goals. Traditionally, the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices is treated as a binary decision, which simplifies the known complexity around behavior change. We propose a framework for the adoption of sustainable agricu...
Article
Diverting food waste from landfills to composting or anaerobic digestion can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enable the recovery of energy in usable forms, and create nutrient-rich soil amendments. However, many food waste streams are mixed with plastic packaging, raising concerns that food waste-derived composts and digestates may inadvertently i...
Article
Full-text available
In many rural farming societies, wild plant foods (WPFs) continue to play an important role in everyday diets as well as in coping with hunger during food shortages. However, WPF collection and consumption may pose challenges to biodiversity conservation efforts (e.g., in protected areas), and some “famine foods,” foods not typically eaten under no...
Article
Full-text available
Calcium is a nutrient of public health concern and commonly associated with dairy foods. In recent years, plant-based alternatives to dairy products have grown in popularity. This study examines public understanding of dietary calcium in dairy products and plant-based alternatives and explores whether knowledge is associated with product preference...
Poster
Full-text available
Puerto Rico has experienced a decline in the number of farms since the 1990s which parallels trends in the broader Caribbean. The islands share characteristics that contribute to their frail food security, including limited land masses, small economies, isolation, and embeddedness in neocolonial dynamics. The aftermath of the 2017 category 4 Hurric...
Preprint
Background Federal nutrition assistance programs serve as safety nets for many American households, and participation has been linked to increased food security and, in some instances, improved diet quality and mental health outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic brought new and increased economic, social, and psychological challenges, necessitating inqui...
Article
Full-text available
Among one of the key challenges in dairy production is the management of manure in a way that is beneficial for agricultural production, with minimal environmental and public health impacts. Manure management systems (MMS)—the entire system of handling, storage, and application of manure—are diverse in countries with developed dairy industries such...
Article
Full-text available
Review, promotion, and tenure (RPT) processes at universities typically assess candidates along three dimensions: research, teaching, and service. In recent years, some have argued for the inclusion of a controversial fourth criterion: collegiality. While collegiality plays a role in the morale and effectiveness of academic departments, it is amorp...
Article
Full-text available
Islands are uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather events and food insecurities, and have additional response challenges due to their limited territories and economies, isolation, colonial legacies, and high dependence of food imports. Domestic farmers have a key role in producing food for island communities like Puerto Rico, which can safeguard fo...
Article
As agricultural conservation priorities evolve to address new complex social-ecological problems and emerging social priorities, new conservation incentive program participation and success can be enhanced by incorporating local stakeholder preferences into program design. Our research explores how farmers incorporate ecosystem services into manage...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This research brief summarizes the main findings of the article, "Social-ecological interactions in a disaster context: Puerto Rican farmer households' food security after Hurricane Maria" (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac6004)
Technical Report
Full-text available
Este informe resume los hallazgos del artículo, "Social-ecological interactions in a disaster context: Puerto Rican farmer households' food security after Hurricane Maria" (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac6004), el cual ha sido traducido al español y está disponible en Research Gate.
Article
Full-text available
This study assessed changes in household food insecurity throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in a cohort of adults in the state of Vermont, USA, and examined the socio-demographic characteristics associated with increased odds of experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic. We conducted three online surveys between March 2020 an...
Article
Full-text available
Social change in any society entails changes in both behaviours and institutions. We model a group-structured society in which the transmission of individual behaviour occurs in parallel with the selection of group-level institutions. We consider a cooperative behaviour that generates collective benefits for groups but does not spread between indiv...
Article
Full-text available
Las islas son excepcionalmente vulnerables a los fenómenos meteorológicos extremos y la inseguridad alimentaria. Más tienen desafíos de respuesta a emergencias adicionales debido a sus territorios y economías limitados, aislamiento, legados coloniales y alta dependencia de las importaciones de alimentos. Los sectores agrícolas y pesqueros isleño ti...
Preprint
The potential for farmers and agriculture to sequester carbon and contribute to global climate change goals is widely discussed, including more recently, through voluntary carbon markets operated through private or public entities. Despite growing interest, there is currently low participation in agricultural carbon markets and limited understandin...
Preprint
Full-text available
Review, promotion, and tenure (RPT) processes at universities typically assess candidates along three dimensions: research, teaching, and service. In recent years, some have argued for the inclusion of a controversial fourth criterion: collegiality. While collegiality plays a role in the morale and effectiveness of academic departments, it is amorp...
Article
Full-text available
Animal-level responses to weather variability in US dairy systems are well described, but the potential of housing and other farm management practices (for example, fans and sprinklers) to moderate the impacts of weather remains uncertain. Here we assess the influence of historical variation in the temperature–humidity index (THI) on milk yields us...
Article
Full-text available
Background The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected food systems including food security. Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted food security is important to provide support, and identify long-term impacts and needs. Objective The National Food Access and COVID research Team (NFACT) was formed to assess food security over different U.S...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the calls for change, there is significant consensus that when it comes to evaluating publications, review, promotion, and tenure processes should aim to reward research that is of high "quality," is published in "prestigious" journals, and has an "impact." Nevertheless, such terms are highly subjective and present challenges to ascertain p...
Preprint
Full-text available
Objective This study assessed changes in household food insecurity throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in a cohort of Vermonters and examined the socio-demographic characteristics associated with increased odds of experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic. Design We conducted three online surveys with a cohort of Vermonters b...
Article
Across the world, an increasing number of farmers are piloting agroecological systems. The recoupling of crops and livestock is one type of agroecological practice that has potential to help reduce the use of off-farm inputs, improve soil quality, and reduce costs for farmers. Yet, a major part of the world's agricultural landscapes remain dominate...
Preprint
Societies change through time, entailing changes in behaviors and institutions. We ask how social change occurs when behaviors and institutions are interdependent. We model a group-structured society in which the transmission of individual behavior occurs in parallel with the selection of group-level institutions. We consider a cooperative behavior...
Article
Full-text available
Farmers and policy makers pursue management practices that enhance water quality, increase landscape flood resiliency, and mitigate agriculture’s contribution to climate change, all while remaining economically viable. This study presents a holistic assessment of how two practices influence the supply of these ecosystem services—the use of an aerat...
Article
Full-text available
Nutritional stability – a food system’s capacity to provide sufficient nutrients despite disturbance – is an important, yet challenging to measure outcome of diversified agriculture. Using 55 years of data across 184 countries, we assemble 22,000 bipartite crop-nutrient networks to quantify nutritional stability by simulating crop and nutrient loss...
Article
Full-text available
Organic, grassfed (OGF) dairy, which requires higher pasture and forage dry matter intake compared with standard organic dairy practices, is unique both in its management needs and in production challenges. The OGF dairy sector is rapidly growing, with the expansion of this industry outpacing other dairy sectors. There is a lack of research outlini...
Article
Full-text available
Charitable food services, including food banks and pantries, support individual and households' food access, potentially maintaining food security and diet quality during emergencies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of food banks and pantries has increased in the US. Here we examine perceptions of food banks and food pantries and their relati...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background. The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected food systems including food security. Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted food security is important to provide support, and identify long-term impacts and needs. Objective. Our team- the National Food Access and COVID research Team (NFACT) was formed to assess food security over di...
Article
Full-text available
Farmers across the globe are experiencing compounding shocks that make evident the need to better understand potential drivers and barriers to strengthen adaptive capacity. This is especially true in the context of a disaster, where a disruption in the natural and built environment hinders livelihood strategies and exposes the underlying dynamics t...
Research
Full-text available
Traducción de, "Rodríguez-Cruz, LA., Moore, M., Niles, MT. (2021) Puerto Rican Farmers’ Obstacles Towards Recovery and Adaptation Strategies after Hurricane Maria: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Understanding Adaptive Capacity. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2021.662918." ++++ La traducción fue realizada por Luis Alexis Rodr...
Article
Full-text available
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall across the Caribbean region as a category 4 storm. In the aftermath, many residents of Puerto Rico were without power or clean running water for nearly a year. Using both English and Spanish tweets from September 16 to October 15 2017, we investigate discussion of Maria both on and off the island, co...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change poses a challenge to farming systems worldwide. However, existing research suggests that farmers and those providing outreach may have different climate change perspectives, and there is little understanding of how farmers prioritize climate change compared with other aspects of their farming system. To compare how farmers and outrea...
Article
Full-text available
Background Home food procurement (HFP) (i.e. gardening, fishing, foraging, hunting, backyard livestock and canning) have historically been important ways that people obtain food. Recently, some HFP activities have grown (e.g. gardening), while other activities (e.g. hunting) have become less common in the United States. Anecdotally, COVID-19 has sp...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite the calls for change, there is significant consensus that when it comes to evaluating publications, review, promotion, and tenure processes should aim to reward research that is of high “quality,” has an “impact,” and is published in “prestigious” journals. Nevertheless, such terms are highly subjective and present challenges to ascertain p...
Article
Full-text available
The plot-level decisions of land managers (i.e., farmers, ranchers, and forest owners) influence landscape-scale environmental outcomes for biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. The impacts of their decisions often develop in complex, non-additive ways that unfold over time and space. Behavioral science offers insights into ways decision-makers...
Article
Full-text available
Nitrogen (N) is a vital input to crop production, but its excess use is a cause of environmental and human health problems in many parts of the world. In the United States (US), as in other nations, reducing N pollution remains challenging. Developing effective N policies and programs requires understanding links between cropland N balances (i.e. N...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural adaptation to climate change is critical for ensuring future food security. Social capital is important for climate change adaptation, but institutions and social networks at multiple scales (e.g., household, community, and institution) have been overlooked in studying agricultural climate change adaptation. We combine data from 13 sit...
Preprint
Full-text available
Charitable food services, including food banks and pantries, support individual and households’ food access, potentially maintaining food security and diet quality during emergencies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of food banks and pantries has increased in the US. Here we examine perceptions of the charitable food system and its relationsh...
Research
Full-text available
Traducción de: Rodríguez-Cruz, L.A. & Niles, M.T. (2021) Awareness of climate change's impacts and motivation to adapt are not enough to drive action: A look of Puerto Rican farmers after Hurricane Maria. PLOS ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244512. El artículo fue traducido por Sabrina Ramos Rubén.
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Home food procurement (HFP) (i.e. gardening, fishing, foraging, hunting, backyard livestock and canning) have historically been important ways that people obtain food. Recently, some HFP activities have grown (e.g. gardening), while other activities (e.g. hunting) have become less common in the United States. Anecdotally, COVID-19 has s...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how perceptions around motivation, capacity, and climate change’s impacts relate to the adoption of adaptation practices in light of experiences with extreme weather events is important in assessing farmers’ adaptive capacity. However, very little of this work has occurred in islands, which may have different vulnerabilities and capac...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Foreign investors have acquired vast tracts of land globally since the early 2000s, yet the food security implications of this phenomenon are poorly understood. The ability to close crop yield gaps through commercial agriculture must be weighed against local impacts on food access. We combine agricultural, remote sensing, and household...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely anticipated that climate change will negatively affect both food security and diet diversity. Diet diversity is especially critical for children as it correlates with macro and micronutrient intake important for child development. Despite these anticipated links, little empirical evidence has demonstrated a relationship between diet di...
Article
Full-text available
To date, methods for assessing community resilience have focused predominantly on disaster recovery. Those that do focus on broader social-ecological and psychological contexts tend to be qualitative and have not been validated at the community scale. This situation reveals a need for quantitative measurement tools for assessing community resilienc...
Preprint
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on the global food system, supply chain, and employment, which, in turn, has created numerous challenges to food access and food security. Early exploratory studies suggest significant increases in food insecurity in the United States. Comprehensive longitudinal research across multiple locations is ne...
Article
Full-text available
Water quality policy for agricultural lands seeks to improve water quality by changing farmer behavior. We investigate farmer behavior in three water quality regimes that differ by rule structure to examine the fit and interplay of each policy within its social-ecological context, important aspects for improving water quality. Vermont, USA's practi...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change and access to water are interrelated concerns for agriculture and other sectors, even in temperate regions. Governance approaches and regulatory frameworks determine who has access to water, for what purpose, and when. In the northeastern United States, water governance has historically been conducted by states through a combination...
Article
Full-text available
We conducted text mining analyses on nearly the entirety of academic literature related to food security. Assessing the literature's spatial scope, we found a truly global body of research conducted across 187 different countries, but with significant spatial heterogeneities in where research is conducted. Comparing the spatial distribution of the...
Article
Full-text available
Comprehensive assessment of food insecurity across all college community members is lacking. This research surveyed a random sample of an entire campus population at a Northeast University in two surveys (spring 2017, n = 1,037 and fall 2017, n = 1,123). Analysis of variance, t-tests, and multivariable logit models were used to understand food inse...
Preprint
Full-text available
Nutritional stability - a food system's capacity to provide sufficient nutrients despite disturbance - is a critical feature of sustainable agriculture, especially in light of ongoing climate change. Yet, measuring nutritional stability has proven challenging. Addressing this challenge will help identify resilient food systems, detect shortcomings...
Preprint
In September 2017, Hurricane Mar\'ia made landfall across the Caribbean region as a category 4 storm. In the aftermath, many residents of Puerto Rico were without power or clean running water for nearly a year. Using both English and Spanish tweets from September 16 to October 15 2017, we investigate discussion of Mar\'ia both on and off the island...
Article
Full-text available
COVID-19 has disrupted food access and impacted food insecurity, which is associated with numerous adverse individual and public health outcomes. To assess these challenges and understand their impact on food security, we conducted a statewide population-level survey using a convenience sample in Vermont from March 29 to April 12, 2020, during the...
Preprint
Full-text available
24 Strengthening farmers' adaptive capacity is important for decreasing their vulnerability to natural 25 hazards in this changing climate, and for safeguarding local food systems. One key step in 26 strengthening adaptive capacity is understanding the relationship between farmers' experience 27 with natural hazards and their perceptions of climate...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated the effectiveness of climate change risk communication in terms of its theoretical potential to stimulate recipients' awareness and behavioral change. We selected the summary for policy makers (SPM) of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in order to conduct a content analysis; the extended...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background COVID-19 has disrupted food access and impacted food insecurity, which is associated with numerous adverse individual and public health outcomes. Methods We conducted a statewide population-level survey in Vermont from March 29-April 12, 2020, during the beginning of a statewide stay-at-home order. We utilized the USDA six-item validated...
Article
Full-text available
Aquatic pharmaceutical pollution poses ecotoxicological risks to the environment and human health. Consumer pharmaceutical use and disposal behaviors represent a significant source of pharmaceutical compounds in surface waters, and communication strategies are needed to promote pro-environmental behaviors to reduce pharmaceutical pollution. Designi...
Article
Fairness perceptions can contribute to trust or distrust in a policy process. Under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) basins may limit groundwater extraction for users, including farmers. Using a 2017 survey of 137 farmers in Yolo County, we adapt a typology of fairness principles, previously applied to climate policy, to e...
Article
Full-text available
Using an online survey of academics at 55 randomly selected institutions across the US and Canada, we explore priorities for publishing decisions and their perceived importance within review, promotion, and tenure (RPT). We find that respondents most value journal readership, while they believe their peers most value prestige and related metrics su...
Article
Full-text available
A growing number of municipalities and states are implementing household food waste diversion efforts such as curbside compost programs, though these programs present challenges for participation and implementation. While many food waste diversion programs are occurring in densely populated regions, understanding food waste management in rural regi...