GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Meet your teaching team



Sara Cavallo

picture of Sara Cavallo holding a tea leaf in front of a tea plantation     a bunch of bananas on a banana plant

I am a PhD Candidate, ABD starting my fifth year here at Penn State.  ABD stands for "All But Dissertation" which means I've completed all required coursework and exams, and now I am working on writing my dissertation. 

My research interests are centered in Environment and Society geography, specifically looking at food and agricultural systems, through the lens of political ecology.  By the end of the course, you will know what that means! If you are interested in learning more about food and agricultural studies, political ecology, or geography in general, feel free to reach out.

My dissertation research itself centers on a bacterial plant disease affecting bananas of all varieties in East Africa and the knowledge networks farmers have crafted and relied on in order to manage the disease effectively.  Bananas are a staple crop in East Africa, particularly in Uganda where I work.  Therefore, this disease and its impacts on banana production not only affect farmers, but the broader food system as well.  This project relies primarily on content analysis of qualitative research data gathered from interviews, print materials, and participant observation.

My master's research was based in Uganda as well but focused on a different sector of the food system, tea.  This project combined land cover/land use change analysis, GIS, and archival research to understand how the tea industry within Uganda has influenced landscape change, particularly to surrounding forest areas.

Teaching Assistant:

Gabriel Tamariz

Gabriel is from Mexico City, has a BA in International Relations (Mexico) and a MSc in Political Ecology (Barcelona), and is now doing a PhD in Geography at Penn State. He is most interested in the interactions between agrobiodiversity, food sovereignty, and power, particularly in conflict landscapes.