The goal of the Plant Shift Initiative is to nurture tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders through the development of projects that tackle animal welfare and climate change issues with creative “plant-based” ideas. By plant-based we mean all ingredients, products, technologies and materials that remove animals from the food system and from all other productions and activities. 



The goal of the Plant Shift Initiative is to nurture tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders through the development of projects that tackle animal welfare and climate change issues with creative “plant-based” ideas.


This exciting series of panel discussions covers relevant and emerging science in plant-based solutions in fields from food and nutrition to sports and business, from climate correction to technology disruption.


Your support backs research that helps us grow this critical initiative! It funds scientific discovery and programming in the many emerging fields of plant-based solutions to society’s most pressing problems.



Rachel Domb is a marvel in the plant-based nutrition world, having started her own mission-driven, eco-friendly, plant-based snack company, Rooted Living, last year when she was only a sophomore. This year, she is the first co-op student in the Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education to focus on plant-based and climate-friendly food systems.

The intent behind Rooted Living is that it “allows you to snack without sacrificing your own health or the health of the planet, and there’s a demand for more sustainable products,” Domb said in her pitch. Her entrepreneurial inspiration won her the top prize of $2,500 in last year’s Husky Startup Challenge, beating out 11 other young companies created by students for the fall 2020 competition.

The third-year psychology major said 40 percent of the plastic produced in the world is for food packaging. Single-use plastic, Domb added, is a major contributor toward global warming, causing “detrimental, irreversible impacts to the planet.” Her co-op was funded by a gift from Northeastern parents Jane Patterson and Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni, who established two such positions at the Sherman Center.

“Ultimately, my mission is to be a leader in the fight against single-use plastic by providing truly healthy food,” says Domb.


What can a rhododendron teach us about robotics?

On a chilly winter day, Moneesh Upmanyu took a walk with his son near their home outside of Boston. They passed a rhododendron bush, its thick green leaves curled up into thin tubes dangling limply from their stems. It looked dead, or dying.

But when Upmanyu, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Northeastern, walked past the spot a few days later, on a warmer day, the plant seemed to have revived. The leaves were spread out flat and lifted upwards towards the sun. His son had one question: Why?

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A sprouting subscription service kept this microgreens farmer growing during the pandemic

Oliver Homberg’s urban farm had grown rapidly before the pandemic, so fast that he expanded his roster of flavor-packed microgreens to include offerings like garlicky Chinese Mahogany and red Shiso, a Japanese plant from the mint family.

Homberg, who earned his international affairs degree from Northeastern in 2013, began Boston Microgreens in 2018 and had cultivated a clientele from among the top chefs in the greater Boston restaurant scene.

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A sustainable solution to the plastic wrappers on snacks

When Rachel Domb was in high school, she said she was in and out of hospitals and continually feeling sick until she decided to adopt a plant-based diet. Nourishing her body with healthy food eventually became a passion, but she was put off by the plastic packaging that her snacks came in, knowing how bad the wrappers were for the environment.

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