Stanford PhD student wins NSF grant for palm oil research

Tannis Thorlakson, a first-year PhD candidate in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) in Stanford's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Science, has won a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to support coursework and research on the palm oil industry in Indonesia. Thorlakson's proposed project, "Is Certification Enough? The socio-economic and environmental impacts of certified palm oil in Indonesia," was one of 2,000 awards selected from a pool of 16,000 applications. 

Thorlakson's research interests include the interactions between farmers and the firms that buy their produce, as well as how firms' supply chain sourcing strategies impact socio-economic and environmental outcomes in the agriculture sector. 

"I am thrilled, though not surprised, that the NSF selected Tannis for this prestigious award," said Professor Roz Naylor, one of Thorlakson's faculty advisors. "Her research on how multinational companies can make palm oil and other major agricultural commodities more environmentally sustainable is important and timely. It is a welcome addition to the work being done by many at Stanford to tackle the big social, economic and environmental questions about the fast-growing palm oil sector."

Thorlakson will spend the summer of 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa, working with a food retailer to understand the impacts of the company's sustainability initiative on the farmers in the retailers supply chain.