Rani Olson, MS

Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Nutritional Sciences and Wellness

Coordinator, Nutrition and Food Systems Degree Program


  • M.S., Urban Planning, The University of Arizona
  • B.A., American Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz


Rani Olson is passionate about attracting the community to critically examine the complexity of our food system and to reimagine and co-create a just food system that centers people and planet.

Our food systems are incredibly complex. They span the globe and touch all aspects of life, from climate change and poverty to gut microbiomes and the integrity of the foods we grow. It's this very complexity that drew Professor Olson to lead the Nutrition and Food Systems (NAFS) degree program at the University of Arizona. Food changes us on many levels. Decisions and perspectives within agricultural research directly impact the health of our planet, communities food, and our bodies; policy continues to shape access to quality food; food access impacts our behavior and the foods we grow accustomed to. Working with food and studying our food system have been meaningful ways Professor Olson connects with planet, place, people, and self.

As an undergraduate, Professor Olson studied race and class disparities nationally, and those relating specifically to environmental stressors and diseases affecting urban communities. As a graduate student, she studied complex relationships between built environments, community vitality, justice, and food systems. Between her academics, she spent years developing as a chef in restaurants and a farmer managing small farms in both Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia. Before she took over the NAFS program, Professor Olson led farm-to-school initiatives at Tucson Unified School District.

Professor Olson continues her work of more than two decades to better understand the shared and unique characteristics of our ever-changing local food landscapes, shared values, stories, and system change. Raised in Sacramento, California by co-op-going parents, she has lovingly called Tucson home for fifteen years.


  • FOOD/NAFS 102: Introduction to Food Systems (Spring)
  • FOOD/NAFS 302: Critical Food Practices: Putting Practice to Theory (Fall)
  • FOOD/NAFS 360: Food Fights (GenEd) (Fall)
  • FOOD/NAFS 498: Senior Capstone (Spring)
  • NAFS 395b: Whetstone Prison Project (Spring, Fall)
  • NAFS 399: Independent Studies or Internship (Spring, Summer, Fall)