Lydia Zepeda, an associate professor of consumer science, has been chosen as director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at UW-Madison.
Zepeda replaces former Center director Rick Klemme, who accepted the post of Associate Dean of Cooperative Extension early in 2000. Prior to Zepeda’s appointment, George.W (Steve) Stevenson served as the Center’s interim director.
“We are extremely pleased that Lydia Zepeda will lead the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems,” says Elton Aberle, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “During her academic career, Dr. Zepeda has shown consistent commitment to the study of sustainable agricultural systems. We look forward to the new directions and insights she will bring to the Center.”
Located within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems researches farming and marketing systems that contribute to the environmental, ecological, and social well being of farms, families, and communities. As Center director, Zepeda looks forward to strengthening existing linkages and developing new linkages with farmers, farm organizations, consumers, members of the business community, and faculty members.
Following the Wisconsin Idea, the Center works closely with a citizens’ advisory council. Zepeda is enthusiastic about working with these citizens. “They have an amazing vision of agriculture that is shared by many people around campus,” she says. “I want to help the Center continue to build partnerships between faculty and these citizens so that their vision can be realized.”
Through building these linkages, Zepeda hopes to facilitate the development of sustainable food and farming systems. “There has never been a single, optimal way to grow, process, and market food,” she says. “Both farmers and consumers benefit from research and outreach on the diverse products and services that Wisconsin agriculture can provide. Farmers learn about innovative ways to keep their farms profitable, and consumers get the variety of food that they seek.”
While serving as Center director, Zepeda will continue her teaching and research in the School of Human Ecology. Her research includes the economics and environmental tradeoffs of technology adoption, the role of women in farm decision-making, and the importance of children’s work on Wisconsin farms. She is particularly interested in the acceptance of genetically modified food by both consumers and farmers.
From October 1996 to December 1998, Zepeda served as staff economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Italy. Her research spans both hemispheres, including the environmental and economic tradeoffs of Latin American farmers’ production decisions.
Zepeda welcomes input and suggestions about the Center’s work. She can be reached at 262-5201 or through the Center’s web site: www.cias.wisc.edu