Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 2, 2020

Lauren Jorgensen, MPA

Lauren Jorgensen Lauren Jorgensen

Hometown
Stillwater, Minnesota

Undergraduate education
Bachelor of science degree in agronomy and community & environmental sociology, minors in food systems, environmental studies, and global health, UW–Madison, 2019

Professional/research interests
Developing and researching sustainable, equitable food systems in high-income, high-disparity nations

Accomplishments/achievements/honors

  • Rhodes Finalist, 2019
  • Foreign Area and Language Studies Danish Studies Fellow (2019-2020)
  • College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Distinguished Senior Award (2019)
  • Community and Environmental Sociology Senior Award (2019)
  • International Golden Opportunity Agronomy Scholar (2019)
  • Hilldale Research Fellow: Food and Health Inequities in Wisconsin (2018-2019)
  • National Science Foundation Community & Environmental Scholar (2015-2019)
  • Phi Kappa Phi Inductee (2018)
  • Mid America Croplife Association Young Leaders Scholar (2018-2019)

Expected graduation date
May 2020

Why an MPA?
Agriculture is arguably the most important sector that impacts our everyday lives. However, despite its importance, it is rarely discussed by political figures. I decided to pursue an MPA to heighten my understanding of how food policy can be changed in order to promote a more socially and environmentally sustainable global food system.

Why the La Follette School?
The Accelerated Program was attractive because I wanted to utilize an MPA as a policy background for further agricultural studies, but not spend too long off the PhD track.

Career goals
I will be applying for PhD Agronomy programs for Fall 2021. After completing my terminal degree, I want to work for a salient agricultural-research organization that has tangible influence on food policy – such as the US Department of Agriculture, Food & Drug Administration, or International Food Policy Research Institute.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
My diverse educational background has made me a unique candidate for my career goals. At the La Follette School, I have focused my coursework on building high-level quantitative skills in economics and statistics to be able to apply a more macro-level understanding of how new agricultural technologies can be suited in a global food system. At the same time, I have centered my experiential learning (internships, fellowships, volunteering, etc.) on community involvement. This blend is worthwhile to me as new agricultural technologies and methods mean nothing if they do not suit the needs and preferences of the communities that researchers actually aim to serve.

Fellowship & Project Assistantship
I am a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow for Danish. I received this fellowship to learn Danish language and politics, and I hope to utilize the skills I have gained in this position during future agricultural research pursuits. Additionally, I am a project assistant in the Department of Agronomy in Chris Kucharik’s Agroecosystems and Nutrient Cycling lab.

Summer internship
I had a remote internship with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources this past summer. I was a special projects assistant for the Learn to Hunt program. I helped design, coordinate, and market a new Learn to Hunt program specifically for college students at University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Volunteer activities
I am the director of Slow Food UW’s evaluation unit. In this role, I evaluate the efficacy of the organization’s outreach work in South Madison. Additionally, I volunteer for Campus Kitchens. This organization repurposes dining hall food that would otherwise go to waste for students to enjoy a free meal twice a week.

Anything else?
I am training to break a three-hour marathon. Working and doing the La Follette School full-time is a lot of work, but there’s enough flexibility in the coursework to be able to keep doing the things you love.

People would be surprised if they knew that I …
have traveled to 25 countries. Traveling all over the world has been the most rewarding experience for learning about different agricultural systems.