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Interview with Dr. Hikaru Peterson

Name: Hikaru Peterson

Years with the University: Professor Peterson has been the U for almost 2 years. Prior to her time at the U, she was at Kansas state from 2000-2015.

Why University? And why the U? Coming to work at the U was a homecoming for her husband,(Jeff Peterson, also a Professor and Director of the Water Resource Center) since he grew up in Osseo, WI and the U is the closest land grant university to his hometown.

Current projects/research:

  • She is working with farmer’s markets within the Twin Cities. They are working to build a collaborative, to demonstrate their collective impact on the local community and access to the rest of the Twin Cities area.

  • She is working on a few rural grocery store related projects. The focus is looking at small communities 2,500 or less, where they are important, yet still experiencing difficulties staying in business. She is trying to figure out how to help them survive while still allowing them to serve their communities needs.

  • Since she came to Minnesota, she has been interested in food waste issues. Dr. Peterson is working with people from the Institute on the Environment on what food waste opportunities there are and what can we do with food waste to make it more useful.

  • Another question she is trying to answer is, “What are things we can do to help people make healthful food choices within food shelves?”

  • Organic farming in high tunnels. She is studying in collaboration with the horticulture department through a multi-regional collaboration. They are looking at hoop house utilization (less-permanent, low-cost greenhouse that helps extend the season) and how to do crop rotation on such a small scale. They are interested in measuring how much the farmers value soil that is richer in moisture retention and nutrients within this style of farming.

Undergrad involvement (THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY GUYS!!!): She currently has one undergrad student helping her in her research through data sorting. If any other undergrad is interested in her work she invites them to send her an email requesting more information. She would also love any help from undergrads if they are interested in data analytics.

What classes do you teach? Professor Peterson teaches APEC 4451W: Food, Marketing Economics and APEC 3202: Intro to food systems.

Advice for ApEc students:

  • Take every chance to find out what opportunities are available.

  • Go to seminars, food luncheon, all food related events, look out for department activities

  • Just explore the variety of experiences that are out there

What is your passion that has driven you to who you are today? She gets energy from making things happen for other people. She thinks her research is only meaningful (for her) when she can help others through what she finds. She also loves helping students to connect what they are learning with how it can change their lives and she loves 1-to-1 mentoring that involves a personal connection.

What is something you wish you would have known as an undergrad? “ I wish someone would have told her to look around and find out what kind of careers were out there,” Dr. Peterson says

What is something you wish your students knew? She wants students to know that even if it is stressful, to try keeping the bigger picture of life in mind. Don’t struggle on your own, find someone to share the stress with.

What is one myth you think undergrads have about professors that you believe is false? Undergrads see profs as only instructors not as people. They have outside lives.

What do you think is the most important part of education? Finding out what you don’t know. A knowledge and appreciation for all the things you do not yet understand.

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences,
Department of Applied Economics
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