Alyssa Yanni, CAST’s new membership specialist and administrative assistant, sits near the front door at the reception desk, ready to welcome any guests and answer phone calls filtered in through her handset. But when she isn’t manning the front desk, you can find Alyssa clacking away at a keyboard, writing about local food advertisements during World War I and World War II.
|Alyssa displayed her research on colonial kitchens in Ross Hall
at Iowa State University during the ’17-18 academic year.
Studying the intersections between food and American culture has led Alyssa to various opportunities ranging from publishing book reviews to presenting her research to the public.
“A lot of my accomplishments are based on my research and academics. I’ve always grounded my life in school; although I do have a gold medal from tennis back in high school—it hangs nicely on my wall,” she added with a chuckle.
The graduate student has a forthcoming book review in Food, Culture, and Society. She was also invited to speak at events for History Camp Iowa in Des Moines and the Daughters of the American Revolution—both occasions covered her undergraduate research about colonial kitchens in Virginia.
While academics take up much of her time, Alyssa loves creating new adventures with her partner, Caleb Lumley (they married last summer at a spot overlooking the Mississippi River). Both are dedicated mini-golfers; their goal is to play the game in all 50 states—regardless of what the forecast may be.
“We were in Washington, D.C., last April—they have the oldest, continuously running mini-golf. It was raining and I called ahead to make sure I could play,” Alyssa says. “They had to open the gates up for us—it was fun.”
While Alyssa would like to explore more of the U.S. with her partner, she is excited to contribute to CAST’s mission to communicate credible, balanced, science-based information to various members of the public, the media, and policymakers.
“That’s really what I try to do with history—not just keep it in the academic circle, but make sure the public understands it,” Alyssa says.
Transparency through science communication is critical in today’s divisive climate, she states. This is why Alyssa is excited to work at CAST toward its ultimate goal of providing a trusted source for agriculture-related issues.
“To have science-based publications coming out with incredible knowledge from subject matter experts gives people something they know they can trust and rely on for their own research and benefits,” she says. “If you’re a farmer or a scientist or a public member, knowing you can trust us as a reliable source, I think, is very beneficial.”
We are happy to have you on board, Alyssa, and we look forward to your contributions for CAST, its members, and beyond.
By Kimberly Nelson
(Photo courtesy of Alyssa Yanni)
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