Hi! My name is Luis Alexis and I am a scientist and writer based in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico, who spends his time researching, creating and eating.

I am an independent scientist, writer and consultant who brings visibility and knowledge on food systems issues in the caribbean and beyond. My work explores social-ecological connections in relation to natural hazards, agricultural sustainability, vulnerability and well-being. I use my interdisciplinary background and cultural identity to inquire and research about how we can achieve a system capable of feeding ourselves, without undermining our natural resources and social well-being, considering the climate crisis and socio-political contexts we face. My main goal is to contribute to the scientific and cultural heritage of Puerto Rico, through applied and collaborative research,, and also through the stories I write and the art I make. «Al otro lado», my second book of short stories, will be published this year. I have a PhD in food systems from the University of Vermont, where I also completed a graduate certificate in agroecology; I completed a master’s degree in food science and technology and a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in biotechnology at the Mayagüez and Ponce campuses of the University of Puerto Rico, respectively.

As a scientist: I describe myself as a social scientist studying food systems. In general, my research focuses on understanding how governance systems and social-ecological interactions relate to our ability to navigate the climate crisis and to fortify our food sovereignty and security, considering aspects of vulnerability and well-being. I have conducted and participated in research in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Vermont and California. Such work in academic, government and non-profit sectors has taken me from classrooms to laboratories, from fisheries to farms and forests. I have over 6 years of experience leading and developing interdisciplinary and applied projects, using mixed methods. As a scientist trained in public universities, I made a commitment to follow participatory research principles, publish in open access journals, translate my work into Puerto Rican Spanish, and do my best to get involved in science outreach initiatives. In my CV you can find more details of my work experiences, publications and other projects.

As a writer and communicator: Narrative is my way of expressing myself artistically. In 2015, I independently published my first book of short stories, «Cuentos color mostaza». It was a self-managed book, which helped me transcend obstacles that were limiting me. Currently, I am working on another project, Al otro lado, a book of fantastic and surreal short stories that explore what it means to find, understnad, and accept oneself. As a writer, my intention is to create aesthetic experiences and distill on the page. By way of intersecting my call to create stories and my scientific interests, I write popular science pieces and colums with the goal of making science accessible and bringing attention to overlooked issues. I have published in El Nuevo Día, 80grados, NextCity, Ciencia Puerto Rico and Science, among others. I describe myself as a columnist and communicator who focuses on giving visibility to examples of the possible and I am guided by the principles of solutions journalism.

Outside of academics: I enjoy and love to spend time preserving and strengthening my emotional relationships with friends and family, creating new connections, exploring places and restaurants, devouring series and books, painting, cooking, taking pictures; also, as a good Caribbean, I like la gozadera y el sandungueo. I also enjoy doing nothing and paying attention to my emotional hygiene. A while ago I started to dedicate more time to ceramics. Like collage and watercolor, it is part of the set of arts that helps me express myself and practice stillness.

Awards: I am Grist 50, a Switzer Environmental Fellow, a COMPASS Science Sentinel, a 2022 finalist of the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship, a Gund Institute Fellow, a Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow and a 2018 Borlaug Summer Institute on Food Security Fellow. Also, with Dr. Bianca Valdés, I co-directed the Red de Acción Puertorriqueña para una Política Pública Basada en Evidencia (PR SPAN) in 2020. And I am a member of Ciencia Puerto Rico, of the Puerto Rico Agricultural Sciences Society (SOPCA) and of the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative.


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