21st April 2011

A multi-disciplinary social media project to create a sustainable food culture, from land to mouth, and cooking and tasting in between, will have a vital ingredient added when QUT post-doctoral researcher Dr Jaz Choi heads to Oxford.

Dr Choi from Queensland University of Technology's (QUT) Urban Informatics Research Lab has been awarded a prestigious Visiting Fellowship by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) at the University of Oxford in the UK.

She will head to Oxford in October for the three-month fellowship, following two PhD students from the lLab, Richard Medland and Mark Bilandzic, who will undertake the OII Summer Doctoral Programme 2011 that starts in July.

In Oxford, Dr Choi will expand her current ARC Linkage research project: Eat, Cook, Grow: Ubiquitous technology for sustainable food culture in the city.

"The project aims to playfully engage people through network technology such as mobile phones, environmental sensors and urban screens to eat, cook, and grow food in more environmentally, socially, and healthy ways," Dr Choi said.

"One of our projects is Farmer Connect which is a communication hub for farmers to connect with consumers and other farmers.

"Farmers won't need to be on different social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, because the system will aggregate such services in a simple, interactive manner.

"It will also act as a communication bridge for consumers, allowing them to say thanks or respond to what farmers say about their crops or harvests.

"Another project, a smart phone app called I8DAT ("I ate that"), allows you to take a photo of your food - its ingredients as you prepare it, the finished meal and any leftovers - then share and discuss them online.

"It's a real-time shared visual diary that's more versatile than a food blog. People can comment, share ideas, exchange recipes, learn cooking tips, and change their food practices while having fun."

Dr Choi said Eat, Cook, Grow was a three-year project that would bring many facets of food together into interactive networks so that people could create their own food infrastructures - from food knowledge and recipes to seed exchanges and waste management.

"We are working with local partners including Queensland Health, Food Connect, City Food Growers, and James Street Cooking School, as well as international colleagues from the Lincoln University Social Computing Research Centre in the UK, Indiana University and Intel Research in the US," she said.

"My visit to the Oxford Internet Institute will greatly enhance my transdisciplinary study.

The OII brings together leading scholars exploring the Internet from a wide variety of domains, including social, cultural, legal, and economic fields. It's an open and dynamic place to think about and act on those wicked complex problems that we face as a global community.", and of course, the hopeful futures."

QUT Urban Informatics Research Lab director Associate Professor Marcus Foth, who was an OII Visiting Ffellow in 2007, said the two QUT's two doctoral students would greatly benefit from the OII Summer Doctoral Programme.

"The program brings together advanced doctoral students who are engaged in research that looks at the socio-cultural implications of the Internet," Professor Foth said.

"Our students will be able to share their knowledge with other high-achieving students from around the world and learn from eminent academics in related fields.

"They join a growing number of Urban InformaticsQUT alumni who have also participated in the program since its inception in 2003."

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.

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