Dr. Megan Mucioki conducts interdisciplinary research in food security and food systems specializing in cultivated and wild food plants and social-ecological systems in the United States and Africa. Her applied research focuses on the in-situ conservation of food plant diversity (cultivated and wild) used by communities to support household food security/seed security, community development, and food system sustainability. The outcomes form recommendations that contribute to community driven food and seed policies inclusive of the unique realities of vulnerable and underserved communities to support improved access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods and seeds and minimize food insecurity.
Dr. Mucioki’s research engages a diverse range of stakeholders (e.g. Native American people and governments, farmers, NGOs, federal and state governments) using mixed social science methods, community based participatory research (CBPR) methods, and methods in plant science and ecology. While her Ph.D. is in the discipline of plant science, her focus of study and research has always been on the social-ecological nexus. She is an expert in mixed-methods research, utilizing quantitative and qualitative methods in the social sciences as well as methods in ecology and plant science (e.g. voucher specimen collection, ecological assessments, agricultural plots). Her approach integrates extension/outreach education programs for the community in order to contribute to skill building, food system development, and food security of the collaborating community. To this end, she has led the establishment of tribal herbaria, led native plant and food related community workshops, and developed and carried out K-12 curriculum integrating STEM and traditional ecological knowledge in local schools.
Dr. Mucioki’s current research focuses on environmental change, food security, and culturally significant foods in communities in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Broadly, she is working to conceptualize and understand the contribution of culturally significant foods and related practices to overall household food security. Previously she has worked to sustain the in-situ conservation of important, but lesser studied dryland food crops such as sorghum and millet, and worked to change seed and food policy in Kenya and other developing countries to be inclusive of small-holder seed systems and traditional dryland crops, both essential to food security and nutrition.