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My research is at the intersection of food systems, the climate crisis, and governance. In general, I strive to understand how systems of governance and social-ecological interactions relate to adaptive capacity, food security, and food sovereignty in the Caribbean and beyond. I use mixed methods approaches to answer my research questions; from the joint analysis of social and biophysical data, to facilitating focus groups and participatory activities. Furthermore, my research approach is grounded on disaster and natural hazards’ studies, agroecology, and social-ecological theoretical frameworks. My goal as an interdisciplinary and applied scientist is to generate visibility and knowledge that contributes to making our food systems more just, and to having a food system that feed us without further harming the environment and livelihoods that sustain us. You can see my academic and scientific contributions here, and learn more about my research experiences here.
Research areas I am focusing on:
• Perceptions, experiences and decision-making: I am interested in understanding the level at which lived experiences and perceptions about the challenges and impacts related to the climate crisis, as well as to social-ecological interactions and sturtcural vulnerability, relate to our decision-making. (Press here to read the study that follows this line of research)
• Disasters and food systems: I seek to understand how we navigate the dynamics that arise in disasters: the disruptions in the built natural environment. I am interested in generating information that contributes to sustainable emergency management in the agricultural and fisheries sectors. (Here you can read an Op-Ed that summarizes the obstacles reported by farmers after Hurricane Maria, and here you can access the open-access research article about this project.)
• Food security in the context of disaster: I am interested in inquiring about how to properly assess food security in times of disaster. And on how to generate knowledge about food security in a way that does not avoid the social and biophysical components of a place. (Here you can access a study that looks at farmer households’ food security outcomes after Hurricane Maria)
I have also done work on fisheries, nutrition education, community resilience, and more. Check out my CV for more information.
My doctoral dissertation, under the advisory of Dr. Meredith T. Niles, focused on understanding how different components of the Puerto Rican food system (social, ecological, agricultural, and political) relate to farmers’ adaptive capacity–meaning those sets of resources and abilities people have to prepare for, withstand, cope with, and recover from impacts. It looked at Puerto Rican farmers adaptation and food security outcomes in light of their recovery from Hurricane Maria to better understand potential drivers and barriers to strengthen adaptive capacity. This dissertation is based upon a survey of 405 Puerto Rican farmers that was carried out after Maria thanks to the UPR Extension Service. Check the research brief here. (NOTE: The manuscript is under embargo until December 2022. If you wish to access the full document, please let me know.)
Research interests: Island food systems, natural hazards and agriculture, food security and sovereignty, adaptive capacity and structural vulnerability, agroecology, social-ecological systems, science communication and outreach, Puerto Rican and Caribbean studies, food culture, governance, public health and public policy.