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ryan asherRyan J. Asher

M. A.,American University - MA, 2006
B.A., Colgate University - BA, 2001

U.S. History with a focus on the Post-Civil War period



I am a U.S. historian with training to teach both the early and modern periods. My doctoral dissertation focuses on the National School Breakfast Program, which was started by Lyndon Johnson as part of his "Great Society" program in the mid-1960s. Set against the larger story of how the American agricultural system evolved over time, my work with the breakfast program explores the intersection of government policy with the food actually made available to participating students. I explore how the students targeted by these programs—those deemed "needy" according to family income—reveal a national ambivalence toward social welfare even at a time of overwhelming support for the Johnson's War on Poverty.

My future research will take a broader look at how the USDA, which stewards the breakfast program, has shaped the national diet during the twentieth century. With this work I want to explore how the modern agricultural system evolved in the United States and what the changes over time have meant for public health and environmental stewardship. How has Federal agricultural policy shaped individual food choices and the health of Americans/the population and what impact has it had on the relationship between farmers and environmental stewardship?

Before my work at Binghamton University I earned a Bachelor's degree from Colgate University, where I also played varsity lacrosse for four years. This experience was foundational in my growth as a person, and the relationships I cultivated with my professors across various departments instilled an appreciation for the work of scholar-teachers. After college I spent time living in New Zealand, where I trained and worked as a sous chef, an experience that sparked my interest in food studies, especially issues of sustainability and food security. Upon my return I moved to Washington, DC, where I enrolled at American University, earning my Master's degree in U.S. history, which immediately preceded my doctoral work in the history department at Binghamton University. I currently live in Durham, NC with my wife and a few pets. In my free time I play soccer, am an avid cyclist, and work in our backyard garden.


"Beyond Ham & Eggs: The National School Breakfast Program, 1965-1980"

Grants & Fellowships

2009-2010 Dissertation Year Fellowship, Binghamton University
2009-2010 Melvyn Dubofsky Research Award Grant, Binghamton University
History Dept.


2008 Phi Alpha Theta Society, Alpha-Theta-Epsilon Chapter, Binghamton
2005 Phi Alpha Theta Society, Epsilon-Psi Chapter, American University
1997-2001 B. Jeffrey Ebbels, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, Colgate University
2000-2001 Foundation Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity Sherwood Blue
1997-2001 Member, Colgate University Men's Varsity Lacrosse, 3-year letter
winner (Div. I)


2013 "Breakfast Heats Up: The National School Breakfast Program, 1972-
1975." North Carolina Association of Historians Annual Meeting,
Cullowhee, NC.
2009 "Beyond Ham and Eggs: The National School Lunch Program, Durham,
North Carolina, 1965-1975." History of Education Society Annual
Meeting, Philadelphia, PA. Part of a panel titled ""Black, White, and
Brown: Desegregation and its Dilemmas"
2007 "Beyond Ham and Eggs: The National School Lunch Program."
Binghamton University History Department Research Seminar
2006 "Door of Deception: The CIA's MK-ULTRA Program and How America
was Turned on to LSD." American University History Department
Research Seminar Conference

Last Updated: 11/1/17