Kirsten Van Fossen is a first-year PhD student from the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering, where she researches with the Centre for Industrial Sustainability. In her project, Kirsten is taking a systems engineering approach to investigate how actors within the industrial food system and healthcare system might further integrate to help shift consumers towards healthier diets and improve public health. The project aims to elucidate the implications for the three key dimensions of sustainability—social, environmental and economic. Her research strongly ties into CHLPI’s Food is Medicine work.
Kirsten’s interest in sustainability as it relates to food and health follows from a long time professional interest in sustainability paired with a personal interest in nutrition. Before starting her PhD, Kirsten’s work primarily focused on the environmental dimension of sustainability. From 2013-2014, Kirsten worked on a sustainable aviation fuels initiative with the Energy Analysis and Sustainability Division at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA.
In the year preceding her work at Volpe, Kirsten researched water filtration, wastewater treatment, and water reuse topics with a team of academic researchers at the University of Sao Paulo’s International Reference Center for Water Reuse. Her water engineering research in Brazil followed from her BSc thesis, in which she designed and evaluated a carbon-nanotube/polymer hybrid water filtration membrane. Kirsten graduated with a BSc in Environmental Engineering from Harvard in 2012, where she also competed on the varsity rowing team.