Samina Raja

Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Director, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab
Associate Dean for Research and Inclusive Excellence, School of Architecture and Planning
sraja@buffalo.edu 233C Hayes Hall - (716) 829-5881

Samina Raja engaged in conversation with student and faculty.

Samina Raja, professor of urban planning, associate dean for research and inclusive excellence, principal investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab (the “Food Lab”), and co-director of UB's Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE), focuses on understanding the role of planning and policy in building sustainable food systems and healthy communities.

In addition to being a leading scholar in her field and active leader in shaping food systems policies for healthier communities in Western New York, Raja is also an invaluable mentor for students. As director of the master of urban planning Community Health and Food Systems specialization, Raja engages her students in the classroom and through graduate studio courses that have worked to develop food systems plans alongside community partners in Buffalo and Trivandrumpuram, India.

Through Raja's scholarship and teaching, she emphasizes the necessitiy for equitable and inclusive planning processes. “It is important that local governments exercise reflection about how policy and planning processes amplify, or dampen, marginalized voices in planning for community food systems.”

Consider the possibility of edible landscaping in every public right of way in the city of Buffalo and Erie County - Why not?

 - Samina Raja, TEDx Talks Buffalo, 2016

Recent News

Research

In her training as a civil engineer and urban planner, Raja uncovered a critical oversight: "Why do we plan places as if people don't eat?"

Samina Raja and a group of contributors posed in community youth garden project on Buffalo's West Side.

Samina Raja’s research focuses on planning and design for sustainable food systems and healthy communities. She is the Principal Investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab (the “Food Lab”) where much of her research unfolds with the engagement and collaboration of an outstanding research team made up of post doctoral scholars and doctoral fellows, master's students, undergraduate students, and high school students.

Explore our Food Lab

Food is integral to human sustenance and to quality of life. Yet the food system which delivers food from farm to table is often overlooked in urban and regional planning decisions. The Food Systems Planning and Healthy Community Lab is dedicated to research that critically examines the role of planning and policy in facilitating sustainable food systems and healthy communities. Learn more and meet our Food Lab team.

In partnership with collaborators nationwide, Raja currently directs Growing Food Connections, a comprehensive five-year initiative funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to build capacity of local governments to strengthen food systems.  

Her additional research interests include the role of planning in communities experiencing conflict (she is especially interested in the region of Kashmir in South Asia), and the fiscal dimensions of urban and regional planning.

Raja’s research is published in leading planning and health journals. She is the lead author of the Planners Guide to Community and Regional Food Planning: Transforming Food Environments, Building Healthy Communities, one of the earliest guidance monographs on food systems planning published by the national American Planning Association. 

Feature Project

Cover of the Planners Guide to Community and Regional Food Planning: Transforming Food Environments, Building Health Communities.

Lead author of the Planners Guide to Community and Regional Food Planning: Transforming Food Environments, Building Healthy Communities, one of the earliest guidance monographs on food systems planning published by the national American Planning Association.