Through Zandria Bates’ research this summer, she hopes to find tangible ways to address food waste and food insecurity. A marketing student in the Dhillon School of Business, Zandria is working with Dr. Rhiannon Mesler in the Mesler Lab on a project that aims to understand how consumer mindsets influence food consumption and food waste.

Zandria’s research first identifies the extent to which a scarcity mindset influences a person’s food preferences. It then explores how that perception of scarcity impacts food waste behaviours and investigates how an intervention may adjust food consumption behaviours. She says the implications for this research are valuable for a range of audiences, particularly academic and organizational institutions.

The insights established offer a path to adjust the gratitude mindset through intervention, thus addressing poor diet quality and food waste. When Dr. Mesler reached out about this research and the opportunity to work with her, I was struck by the real-world implications of her work. By studying the ways various forms of scarcity perceptions impact consumers’ food and eating behaviour, especially food waste, we can identify tangible ways to address food waste, community psychological well-being, and wider macro-level food insecurity. Since I want to pursue a career in the non-profit sector, this research presented a way I can merge my academic career with my future goals.

With the support of a Chinook Summer Research Award, Zandria is assisting with the literature review, which works to better understand the topic, and writing an academic article based on the findings from her data. She will also help with submitting the paper for publication to an academic journal and presenting the findings at conferences.

Though new to the research team, Zandria says she has found the experience to be incredibly valuable, as she gains experience in an academic capacity and builds her employable skills.

From my written and verbal communication skills to critical reading to technical abilities, I am building experience I would not have gained otherwise. Coming from working a retail job for three years, the experience of working in a research setting has been a wonderful adjustment. Each day’s work has purpose both for myself and a greater good. Further, I am working in the lab over the summer as a co-op work term as well, which helps in my working towards a co-op designated degree.

Zandria’s goal is to have her work accepted to an international conference on behavioural science and marketing by the end of the summer, further developing her skills and presenting her with the opportunity to present her work to a wide audience. For students who are interested in becoming involved in their own research projects, Zandria recommends seeking out opportunities.

“I went from working at Dairy Queen to working in a university research lab and it has been incredible. Don’t limit yourself because you don’t have experience, because in my experience thus far, people around you are more than willing to help you succeed.”