Lisa Jordan Powell

STEM Division Head, Director of the Center for Human and Environmental Sustainability, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Agriculture

e: | p: 434-381-6166 |

o: Guion Science Center | A102

B.A. | Mathematics, Harvard University
M.S. | Mathematics, Vanderbilt University
M.A. | American Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. | American Studies and Sustainability, University of Texas at Austin

Professor Powell is an interdisciplinary scholar of environments and food systems, whose research, teaching, and program development work weaves together her training in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, as well as her life-long involvement in her family’s farm. In her role as Director of Sweet Briar’s Center for Human and Environmental Sustainability, Professor Powell collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities on sustainability initiatives. She leads the academic and community-focused aspects of SBC’s agricultural areas, including the greenhouse, apiary, vineyard, garden, and forests. She also supervises the amazing teams of students who work in the greenhouse, apiary, and garden both during the school year and as Willits Summer Food Systems Fellows.

As a researcher, Professor Powell pursues a range of questions that all ultimately address human-environment relationships, most frequently in the contexts of food systems, policy, land use, and education. She supervises student research on a broad range of topics related to agriculture, food, and the environment. While she is always eager to discuss new ideas students have for research projects, she also welcomes conversations with students who are interested in joining ongoing projects on agricultural and food literacy education; local- and regional-scale environmental policy; adoption of new crops and crop production technologies; and Virginia beverage and food tourism.

Courses Taught

ENVR 385:  Food and Environments in the U.S. South

ENVR 382:  Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

ENVR 215:  Environmental Policy

ENVR 446:  Evaluation of Environmental Issues

ENVR 201:  Agricultural Operations

CORE 140:  Sustainable Systems

AGRI 421:  Leadership in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Certificate Seminar

ENVR 356:  Natural Resources Management


Selected Journal Articles:

Italicized = student co-author


Powell, L.J.; Mendly-Zambo, Z.; Newman, L., “Perceptions and acceptance of yeast-derived dairy in British Columbia, Canada,” Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 7,2023

Blair, S.A., Edwards, G.,  Yu, K., Jovel, E., Powell, L.J., , Renwick, K., and Conklin, A.. 2023. “What Is a School Farm? Results of a Scoping Review” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 20, no. 7.

Mendly-Zambo, Z. Powell, L.J., and Newman, L. (2021), Dairy 3.0: cellular agriculture and the future of milk. Food, Culture, and Society.

Renwick, K., Powell, L. J., & Edwards, G. (2021). ‘We are all in this together’: Investigating alignments in intersectoral partnerships dedicated to K-12 food literacy education. Health  Education Journal.

Newman, L., Newell, R., Mendley-Zambo, Z., and Powell, L.J. (2021), Bioengineering, telecoupling, and alternative meat and dairy: Agricultural land use futures in the Anthropocene. The Geographical Journal.

Powell, L. J. & Renwick, K. (2019). “The world is our home”: Food literacy education and Vaines’ conceptualization of ecology. International Journal of Home Economics, 12(2), 46-54.

Renwick, K., and Powell, L.J. (2019), Focusing on the literacy in food literacy: practice, community and food sovereignty, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences 111(1): 24- 30. doi: 10.14307/JFCS111.1.24

Powell, L.J., and Wittman, H. (2018), Farm to School in British Columbia: Mobilizing Food Literacy for Food Sovereignty, Agriculture & Human Values 35(1): 193-206. doi: 10.1007/s10460- 017-9815-7

Newman, L., Powell, L.J., Nickel, J., Anderson, D., Jovanovic, L., Mendez, E., Mitchell, B. and Kelly-Freiberg, K. (2017), Farm stores in agriburbia: the roles of agricultural retail on the rural/urban fringe, Canadian Food Studies 4(1): 4-23. doi: 10.15353/cfs-rcea.v4i1.211

Newman, L., Powell, L.J., and Wittman, H. (2015), Landscapes of food production in agriburbia: farmland protection and local food movements in British Columbia. Journal of Rural Studies 39, p99-110. doi: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2015.03.006

Wittman, H., Powell, L.J., and Corbera, E. (2015), Assembling Resources for Sustainable Development? The Clean Development Mechanism and the carbonization of agriculture in Latin America. Environment and Planning A 47, p2031-2046. doi: 10.1068/a130218a

Lisa Powell joined the Sweet Briar College faculty in January 2020.  Prior, she was working in British Columbia, Canada, on research focused on strengthening regional food systems, agricultural land use policy and planning, adoption of new technologies in the agri-food sector, diversification of fruit and vegetable production and food literacy education.  She served as coordinator of Think&EatGreen@School, a university program supporting food literacy education and access to healthy and sustainable food for K-12 students.  

Prof. Powell has an active role in the management of her family’s farming operation in Kentucky, focused on grain production and soil and water conservation.