Dr. Zhifeng Gao, graduate coordinator and professor of Food and Resource Economics, has been named as one of the UF Research Foundation’s 34 UF Research Foundation Professors for 2023.
This award is given to a maximum of 35 tenured faculty annually across all fields at the University of Florida to recognize those with a distinguished research history and particularly relevant current research agenda.
“I am very excited and honored to receive the award,” Gao said. “But the first thing that comes to my mind is to thank the support from FRE, my former and current students, and my collaborators. Without these supports, I cannot be as productive as I am. Receiving this award also motivated me to continue my current research and conduct more important and impactful research in the future.”
Gao, who has been with the UF Food and Resource Economics Department since 2007, focuses his research on applied economic policy analysis to improve the sustainability of the food system.
“The food system is an integrated system that can enhance the well-being of the environment, economy, and society,” Gao said.
Some recent topics covered in his recently published work include consumer perceptions of eco-labeling on food, perception shifts in United States seafood consumption, and consumer preference for eco-friendly egg packaging when presented with plastic warning labels.
“My research particularly enhances the understanding of consumer attitudes and preferences for food attributes, assesses the economic feasibility of sustainable production technologies, and estimates growers’ adoption of sustainable technologies,” Gao said.
The insights provided by Gao’s research provide stakeholders, legislators, and industry with essential information needed to develop policies and business strategies that encourage the consumption and production of high-quality and sustainable food products, enhancing the food system’s sustainability.
Gao also recognizes the quickly rising relevance of artificial intelligence across all industry sectors and has plans to incorporate it into his future research.
“My future research will use advanced technology such as machine learning and AI to identify barriers and motives for sustainable food consumption and production among consumers and producers, respectively,” Gao said.
By continuing to develop a systematic approach to analyzing the impact of policy regulations on behaviors observed along the market chain and integrating these new technologies, Gao hopes to increase understanding of all the economic, social, and environmental impacts that contribute to decisions made in the food supply chain that would lead to greater sustainability.
“The systematic approach would integrate the social networking effect among consumers, producers, players in the food supply chain, and human-nature interactions to promote a sustainable food system,” Gao said.