Meet Our Director of Science Programs
Jessica Shade started her involvement in the organic movement as an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she was a co-owner of the Kresge Natural Foods Cooperative. During her time there, she developed a deep interest in the science supporting the environmental, public health, and cultural benefits of organic practices, and that passion followed her through her graduate career at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology.
Most of her research focuses on conservation ecology, population genetics, and selective landscapes, but she also has experience studying effective restoration techniques, plant secondary compounds, and microbial symbiosis. She has taught several courses to students of all ages, including ethnobotany, plant ecology, agroecology, and research technique development.
In addition to scientific research, Dr. Shade is dedicated to food system science communication, collaboration, environmental education, and social equity and inclusion in the sciences. She has worked with several organizations to mentor under-represented students in the sciences, and increase environmental science collaborations such as Building Diversity in Science, Puente, the Biology Scholars Program, and Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability. She also founded and directed the Diversity Mentorship Program, which trains and mentors graduate students on inclusive teaching practices.
In addition, Dr. Shade is interested in creative approaches to conducting and communicating environmental research. She has led panels on using artistic approaches to disseminating scientific research, as well as curating, designing, and participating in many environmentally themed art exhibits.
“Combining scientific research, communication, and creativity is important in implementing a holistic approach to supporting the benefits of organic,” said Dr. Shade. “I’m thrilled to be a part of such an innovative scientific process here at The Organic Center.”