Members > Jessica Gephart

Postdoctoral Fellow, SESYNC

Jessica's research focuses on the role of seafood in global food security using a resilience lens. This work spans from global analyses of patterns and dynamics, to more local studies that can better account for specific social, policy, and economic contexts. Her past research characterized changes in the structure of the global seafood trade network and contributed three perspectives on its resilience by 1) modeling countries' exposures to seafood production shocks propagating through the trade network; 2) analyzing a series of case studies to evaluate the trade and seafood supply outcomes of production shocks, and; 3) quantifying the water cost and countries' abilities to replace seafood with terrestrial foods. At SESYNC, her research is leveraging an existing model to produce seafood supply-demand models for African nations highly dependent on seafood for nutrition. A critical feature of this work is its accounting of small-scale fishing to better incorporate the nutrition outcomes for some of the most vulnerable human populations. She will use the resulting models to create a management tool which evaluates the impacts of environmental and policy change scenarios on human nutrition and projects changes in natural resource use driven by seafood demand.

Jessica has also been involved in a range of interdisciplinary projects addressing water use for food production, multi-dimensional footprint analysis, and resilience within the global food trade system. Within the area of water resources, she has worked on teams to evaluate the efficacy of water markets at responding to water scarcity, quantify the water resource impacts of Sri Lanka's self-sufficiency goals, and review water use concepts in aquaculture. Since, the environmental impacts of food production extend beyond water use, she worked with a group of researchers to develop a multi-footprint labelling scheme, estimate the efficiency improvements needed to meet the demands of a growing population with changing diets, and identify diets minimizing environmental footprints while meeting nutrient requirements. In order to assess resilience within the broader global food trade system, she part of a SESYNC team applying crop models, resilience theory, and network analysis to evaluate existing buffers in the system and vulnerabilities to shocks in the trade network.

Key research Interests: Social-ecological systems, Seafood, Food security, Trade networks