Two faculty members selected for advanced study fellowships

Two CFANS faculty members have been selected as residential fellows in the Institute for Advanced Study at the U of M.  The fellows work at the Institute as a supportive interdisciplinary intellectual community in which fellows work intensively on their own research and creative projects and meet regularly to discuss their work and exchange ideas. 
Associate professor Kyungsoo Yoo, Department of Soil, Water and Climate, will study “Agrarian Expansion, Immigration and the Emergence of Earthworm-Engineered Forests: 9,000 years of Human-Natural History in Glaciated Regions of Northern Europe and North America.”

Assistant professor Marc Bellemare, Department of Applied Economics, will study “The Political Economy of Food Price Stabilization.”  Here are their descriptions of the projects:

Kyungsoo Yoo

Agrarian Expansion, Immigration and the Emergence of Earthworm-Engineered Forests: 9,000 years of Human-Natural History in Glaciated Regions of N. Europe and N. America

yooI will build a story and a large interdisciplinary research proposal that are a powerful reminder of human’s interconnectedness with nature. The story involves farmers, immigrants, Vikings, and earthworms. Earthworms in the formerly glaciated forests in N. America are not native. They arrived with crops and cattle that European farmers brought and are now known for causing many negative impacts on the forests. I propose that earthworms were aliens in glaciated N. Europe as well. Though de-glaciated at about same time (~9,000 BP), Sweden had its first agrarian populations at ~4-5,000 BP. In Sweden, unlike in the glaciated N. American forests, earthworms are credited for fertile forest soils. Sweden and Minnesota thus offer a natural laboratory where we can reveal how agrarian expansion, earthworm invasion, earthworm-engineered forests, and people’s concept of “pre-agricultural” forests have co-evolved and will continue to co-evolve. I will further examine the Viking expansion across N. Atlantic islands, hoping to understand how and to what extent earthworms, timing of their introduction, and Vikings’ agricultural practices affected the ecosystem processes where environmental conditions are strikingly different from those of Minnesota and Sweden.

Marc Bellemare

The Political Economy of Food Price Stabilization

bellemarePolicy makers have frequently identified food price stability – whether stability is defined as the elimination of price fluctuations around a given price level or the maintenance of high or low food prices – as important goals of economic policy. After a period of little to no research on food prices, there has been a resurgence of interest in the topic of food prices since the food crisis of 2008. Having written several articles on food prices, I am now planning on writing a book summarizing current knowledge and offering new insights (albeit somewhat more speculative ones than what one can publish in journal articles) on the political economy of food price stabilization, to be submitted to an academic press.