Ronald O. Ball Lectureship in Food & Agriculture

Water insecurity and our health: Lessons from the Galapagos

Tuesday, March 21 from 3:30 - 5 p.m. MDT

Clean, safe water is necessary for our health and nutrition. Understanding the pathways through which water insecurity shapes health at the individual and household levels and how it interacts with food is critical for improving physical and mental health now and in the face of environmental and climate change.

Water insecurity remains a challenge globally — whether we look close to home in our rural communities, or we look at the local population in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Amanda L. Thompson, our guest speaker, examines the impact of water insecurity and the impact of water on health and nutrition against the backdrop of the challenges that local communities in the Galapagos Islands face when the pressures of tourism conflicts with the need for clean water and farmland. 

Cost: Free
Location: Lister Conference Centre, Maple Leaf room


Amanda L. Thompson is professor and chair in the Department of Anthropology, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and interim Co-Director of the Center for Galapagos Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her masters of public health and PhD from Emory University. She held a postdoctoral position at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Carolina Population Center. Trained in human biology and nutritional epidemiology, she focuses on the biological pathways linking early life social, behavioural and physical environments to the development of obesity and chronic disease across a range of national and international settings, including North Carolina, China, Zambia and Ecuador. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. She is the recipient of the 2014 Human Biology Association Michael A. Little Early Career Award and the 2019 Norman Kretchmer Memorial Award in Nutrition and Development from the American Society for Nutrition.

Previous Lectures

The case of the “Potato Park” - 2021

The 2021 Ronald O. Ball Lectureship in Food & Agriculture digs into 'The case of the Potato Park' -- illustratrating how indigenous Quechua peoples in Cusco, Peru, have been empowered by the use of their “Ayllu” cosmology to craft an effective "sustainable development" and natural resource (agrobiodiversity) management strategy.

The Potato Park model demonstrates that indigenous peoples can improve their wellbeing (ecosystem, food and health security), uphold their biocultural rights (stewardship, repatriation, intellectual property, land, culture, etc), and achieve economic security (indigenous business models) while maintaining a reverence for and reciprocity with Mother Earth.

This alternative model of development, where nature is respected and the rights and wellbeing of the community is held as paramount, demonstrates that indigenous cosmologies and spiritual values of respect to nature can inform policy in global contexts on critical development and conservation issues.

Speaker and Panelists
Alejandro Argumedo

Alejandro Argumedo is Director of Programs and Andean Amazon Lead at Swift Foundation. He is a recognized indigenous Quechua leader, chief advisor to the Potato Park and President of the Board of Directors of Asociación ANDES of Cusco, Peru. He also serves in the Board of SeedChange of Ottawa, Canada. Alejandro is the current Coordinator of the International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples and a “Champion” of the global initiative “Food for Ever”. Alejandro is an agronomist by training and has served on various expert panels of the UN and other relevant bodies and has consulted for national and international organizations.

Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine - Panelist

Dr. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine was raised in Tuareg culture and traditions. She has a multidisciplinary background: in medicine, humanitarian action, and education. Since 1994, she is an active member of Tinhinane - a nomadic women organization in the Sahel region of Africa. For the last decade, in part of her advocacy for Indigenous People's rights, she served two mandates at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that she also chaired for two terms. She is currently devoting her time to contribute to the NFRF proposal of the Ărramăt: Biodiversity Conservation and the Health and Well-being of Indigenous Peoples research project as co-principal investigator.

Shane Chartrand - Panelist

Shane Chartrand - Chef Shane Chartrand is Canada’s best known (and loved) indigenous chefs and advocates. You may have seen him one one of many national Food Network show, he is author of Tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine (along with food advocate and UAlberta Arts alumna Jennifer Cockrall-King).

Kacey Yellowbird - Panelist
Kacey Yellowbird - Samson Community Freezer program - Manager of the Samson Cree Nation and founder of the Samson Cree Hunting program. What started as a freezer program in which the meat from hunting was provided to people in Maskwacis, a community south of Edmonton that includes Samson Cree Nation, has grown into an initiative that goes beyond Food security and also inspires youth to connect back to traditional practices. The Samson Cree Nation received the Communities ChooseWell Most Significant Change Award in 2019.

Lab-grown Meat: The future of food? - 2018

Presented by Dr. Bill Aimutis, director, North Carolina Food Innovation Lab, NC State University. 

Read more

The Canadian Food System and Chronic Disease: Cause or Cure - 2015

Presented by Harvey Anderson, professor at the University of Toronto.

In this presentation, Professor Anderson discussed the Canadian food system and its relationship to chronic diseases. The agri-food system has been the major contributor to prevention of disease since the industrial revolution, but it needs to take a new approach to chronic disease. What will that approach be and how will it benefit the health of Canadians?

Inaugural Ronald O Ball Lecture - 2013

Presented by George Kent, Professor Emeritus with U of Hawaii.


About the Ronald O. Ball Lectureship in Food & Agriculture

Ronald O Ball has generously supported this lecture with the Ronald O Ball Lectureship in Food & Agriculture Fund.

This fund allows the University of Alberta to invite an excellent speaker to campus who will appeal to many audiences, faculty members, students, alumni, media, professional agrologists, and the general public. The speaker will be of a stature to attract attention and interest from the University, media, and community, and will highlight current issues in nutrition, food and agriculture.

Questions about the lectureship can be directed to Catherine Field.