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
firstname.lastname@example.org - 233C Hayes Hall - (716) 829-5881
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.”
- Samina Raja, TEDx Talks Buffalo, 2016
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’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.
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.
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.
Nationally, Samina Raja works with the American Planning Association (APA) to bring the importance of community and regional food planning to the attention of practicing planners nationwide. 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, Raja 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.