Dr. Raja’s research focuses on planning and design for sustainable food systems and healthy communities.
Dr. Samina Raja’s research program focuses on understanding the role of planning and policy in building 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. In partnership with collaborators nationwide, Dr. Raja is currently directing 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.
Dr. 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.
B.Sc. (civil engineering), College of Engineering and Technology, Jamia Millia University, New Delhi
M. Planning (housing), School of Architecture and Planning, New Delhi
Ph.D. (urban and regional planning), University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Raja teaches a combination of required and elective courses in the graduate and undergraduate programs. Her course offerings include food systems planning, research design (for doctoral students only), built environment and health, planning studio for graduate students, and research methods.
Dr. Raja's service to the community and the planning profession is closely linked to her research interests. She works with the national American Planning Association (APA) to bring the importance of community and regional food planning to the attention of practicing planners nationwide. Dr. Raja serves on the steering committee of the Food Interest Group (FIG) of the American Planning Association whose mission is to advance the practice of food systems planning within the profession.
Locally, Dr. Raja works with a number of partners in Buffalo and surrounding communities to advance the state of food systems planning and policy. She has worked closely for the last 10 years with the Massachusetts Avenue Project to document how their community-based efforts can strengthen food systems and inform food policy and planning. She is a steering committee member of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities-Buffalo coalition, led by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc., which strives to promote policy and environmental change to promote healthy eating and active living in Buffalo. She currently serves on the Buffalo-Erie Food Policy Council, the first city-county food policy council in New York State.