2014-2016 NEXUS Cohort

Fulbright Regional Network for Applied Research (NEXUS) Program Biographies


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Climate Change and Food and Water Security

Dr. Erick de la Barrera
Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Morelia, Michoacan


Erick de la Barrera is a research professor at the Ecosystems Research Center at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.  He obtained his bachelor of science degree from the Universidad de Guadalajara in 1997 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003.  His research on cultivated plants has touched various aspects of plant physiological ecology, including plant responses to climate change, bio indicators of atmospheric pollution, and the mechanisms leading to biological invasions.  Given the social complexity of the Mexican rural environment, he has become increasingly interested in social and public policy aspects of food security, with a special consideration to adaptation to climate change.  He is the author of numerous research publications, co-editor of Perspectives in Biophysical Plant Ecophysiology (UNAM 2009), and an avid communicator of science for the general public especially through his blog, ecolibrios.com, and twitter.

Dr. Enrique Javier Carvajal Barriga
School of Biological Sciences
Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador
Quito, Pichincha


Dr. Enrique Javier Carvajal Barriga received his bachelors degree in Biological Sciences in 1995 from Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. Dr. Carvajal Barriga holds a masters in Brewing Technology from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and a PhD in Enology from the University of Castilla La Mancha. He is a senior researcher at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, where he leads the Neotropical Center for the Research of Biomass. Dr. Carvajal Barriga is a consultant for public institutions related to science and technology in Ecuador. His work is focused on a range of scientific and technological disciplines such as Biology, Brewing Technology, Biotechnology, Food Science, Biorefineries and Nanosciences. Due to this wide range of fields, he has been involved in a number of research projects: from yeast biodiversity and biotechnology to the development of nanoscopic systems.


Ms. Rachael Garrett
Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Government
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts
United States


Ms. Rachael Garrett holds a bachelor of arts in History and Environmental Analysis and Policy from Boston University and a master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University. She received her PhD through the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University in 2013. Ms. Garrett is a Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Sustainability Science at Harvard University, a National Science Foundation Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability Fellow. As an interdisciplinary social scientist with a focus on agriculture, rural development, and conservation, Ms. Garrett’s expertise spans the fields of agricultural economics, land systems science, and economic geography. Her post-doctoral research examines the feasibility of scaling up diversified and integrated crop and livestock systems in the United States and Brazil to simultaneously promote rural livelihoods, enhance on-farm ecosystem services, and improve farmers’ capacity to adapt to climate change. Ms. Garrett will be starting as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University in July 2015.

Ms. Sharon Naomi Grant Nelson
Senior Lecturer
Department of Economics
University of Technology, Jamaica
St. Andrew


Ms. Sharon Nelson holds a bachelors degree in Economics and Management Studies and a masters degree in Economics from the University of the West Indies, Mona. Ms. Nelson is a past recipient of the European Union Scholarship award where she pursued undergraduate studies in Economics and Management at the University of the West Indies. Ms. Nelson is the Program Director for the Economics Program within the college of Business and Management at the University of Technology in Jamaica. Over the years she has worked in a number of areas with increasing responsibilities in project evaluation, project management, project monitoring, statistics, data collection, project appraisal, official development assistance, economic planning, project coordination and contract administration. Ms. Nelson finds her niche in the quarterly Speakers’ Forum which she has been coordinating for the past three years under the auspices of the College of Business and Management, University of Technology, Jamaica. She has been instrumental in bringing together some of the best minds within Jamaica and the Caribbean to sit together at round-table discussions on a wide range of topical and current socio-economic issues including Tax Reform, Capitalizing on the Gains from the Olympics, and, the Annual Budget Debates. Ms. Nelson provides consulting support to the Jamaica Coffee Growers Association.

Dr. Joao Onofre Pinto
Dean and Associate Professor
College of Engineering, Architecture and Urban Planning, and Geography
Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul
Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul


Dr. João Pinto received his bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Ilha Solteira, Brazil, in 1990. Dr. Pinto holds a master of science degree from the Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, in Uberlândia, Brazil and a Ph.D. degree from The University of Tennessee, in Knoxville. He is currently the Dean of the Engineering College at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, in Campo Grande, Brazil. His research interests include signal processing and artificial intelligence applications to power electronics, machine drives and power systems, among others. He is the founder and current coordinator of the BATLAB, Artificial Intelligence Applications, Power Electronics and Drives, and Digital Systems Laboratory. Over the past two years, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Brazilian Power Electronics Transactions, and currently he is the President of the Brazilian Power Electronics Society. For four years he was the graduate committee chair at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, and between August 2008 and December 2011 he was the Mato Grosso do Sul State Undersecretary for Research and Development Issues. He is two-time first award winner of the IEEE – IFEC International Future Energy Challenge. He was the IEEE-IFEC General Chairman for the 2011 edition and he is a member of the steering committee for the IEEE-IFEC 2013.

Measuring Climate Change and its Impact (Metrics and Standards

Dr. Carla Almeida Vivacqua
Associate Professor and Coordinator
Department of Statistics
Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte
Natal, Rio Grande do Norte


Carla Almeida Vivacqua is an Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) in Natal, Brazil. She earned a bachelors degree in statistics from the National School of Statistical Sciences, a masters degree in statistics from the State University of Campinas, and a PhD in industrial engineering with a minor in statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been the Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Applied Mathematics and Statistics at UFRN for the period 2010-2014. She also works with the Applied Statistics Laboratory (LEA/UFRN) in order to initiate collaboration between statisticians and non-statisticians. She has been promoting the use of statistical thinking to guide decision-making for more than fifteen years. Her expertise and main passion in statistics is experimental design. In general, her research is driven by real problems. Currently, one of her research interests is in experimental design strategies for assessing the performance of climate models.


Dr. Dolors Armenteras
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Universidad Nacional de Colombia


Dr. Dolors Armenteras holds a masters degree in Environmental Tropical Forestry from the University of Bangor in Wales, UK, and a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Barcelona, Spain. Dr. Armenteras’ PhD studies at King’s College in London focused on using GIS and modelling tools for the management of biological resources in Colombia. Dr. Armenteras’ PhD research consisted of modelling the distribution of biological diversity throughout Colombia using a combination of GIS and field inventory. Since 2007, Dr. Armenteras has worked as an associate professor in the Biology Department of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia where she has set up a highly recognized group on Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Modelling. Her research interests include landscape ecology and management, modeling species distributions, ecosystem assessments, ecosystem services, conservation biology, biodiversity, modelling, fire ecology and GIS. Dr. Armenteras is a member of the Advisory Committee in the Sub Global Ecosystem Assessment. She is currently one of the selected experts on Deliverable 2(a) of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) work program. Dr. Armenteras is also the International Union of Forest Research Organizations’ (IUFRO) Landscape Ecology Group Representative for Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Surinam.


Dr. Christopher Castro
Associate Professor
College of Science
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
United States


Dr. Christopher L. Castro is an Associate Professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona.  He joined the faculty in August 2006.  His doctoral and postdoctoral work at the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University applied a regional atmospheric model to the investigation of North American summer climate. Current research activities within his research group at the University of Arizona focus principally on physical understanding and prediction of climate in North America through regional atmospheric modeling and analysis of observations.  Specific topics include improving seasonal climate forecasts, convective-resolving simulations of severe weather, water resource projection at the regional and local scale, and contributions to parameterization development in the Weather Research and Forecasting model.  His projects engage the operational weather forecast community and water resource providers in the Southwest.  Through his collaborations and outreach activities, he is also working to develop improved capacity for weather and climate research in other parts of the world, especially Latin America.


Dr. Wania Duleba
Assistant Professor
School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities
University of São Paulo
Sao Paulo


Dr. Wania Duleba holds two bachelors degrees in Biology and Geography from Santo Amaro University and the University of São Paulo. Dr. Duleba received her masters degree in 1993 and her PhD in 1997 in Biological Oceanography from the University of São Paulo.  She also holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Angers in France. Dr. Duleba is an Associate Researcher at the Antarctic Research Center, and Assistant Professor at the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Duleba works on both fossil and recent marine and estuarine protists, foraminifera in particular. Her current research takes her to Antarctica to collect and study cold seeps and hydrothermal vents organisms. She frequents offshore regions and the coasts of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific to study foraminifera, and to understand global climate changes through time.


Dr. Cerian Gibbes
Assistant Professor
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado
United States


Dr. Cerian Gibbes is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Her research interests center around climate-land interactions, with a focus on multi-scalar research addressing adaptation to climate change, ecological responses to climate change, and measuring climate change impacts. Her research background is geographically varied, including interdisciplinary work in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in southern Africa. Dr. Gibbes’ research draws from multiple theoretical backgrounds, integrates mixed methodological approaches, and incorporates qualitative and quantitative analysis to understand social and ecological dynamics related to climate changes. Her work has been supported by funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.


Dr. Fabio Luiz Teixeira Gonçalves
Associate Professor and Head
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
University of São Paulo
São Paulo


Dr. Gonçalves holds a masters degree in Biological Sciences and a PhD degree in Meteorology from the University of São Paulo. Dr. Gonçalves is an Associate Professor and researcher at the Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at University of São Paulo. Dr. Gonçalves experience includes research in Geosciences, with an emphasis in Environmental Meteorology, Biometeorology and Cloud Physics, acting on the following topics: numerical modeling, principal component analysis, epidemiology, air pollution and human biometeorology.


Renewable Energy, Including Micro-Grid Innovations

Ms. Marlene Susana Arrechea Alvarado
Faculty of Engineering
University of San Carlos of Guatemala
Guatemala City


Ms. Susana Arrechea holds a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala and a masters degree in Molecular Nanoscience and Nanotechnology from the University of Castilla-La Mancha. Ms. Arrechea Alvarado is a Professor at the Chemical Engineering School at the University San Carlos of Guatemala. In 2011, she began a doctorate program in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain. Ms. Arrechea received a scholarship through the Carolina Foundation, the University of Castilla- La Mancha and the University San Carlos of Guatemala. She investigates novel materials for third generation solar cells at the Institute of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at the University of Castilla – La Mancha.


Dr. Artur de Souza Moret
Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Federal University of Rondônia
Porto Velho, Rondônia


Dr. Moret holds a bachelors degree in Physics from the Fluminense Federal University, a master’s degree in Science Education (modality physics and chemistry) from the University of São Paulo and a PhD in Planning of Energy Systems from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). He is an Associate Professor in the Regional Development and Environment Graduate Program at the Federal University of Rondônia. Dr. Moret’s research experience is in the areas of electric power planning, with emphasis on biomass electricity generation, working mainly on the following themes: decentralized generation, renewable, alternative energy, planning of electric power decentralized systems, energy efficiency, and biomass energy production chains.


Dr. Claudia Rahmann
Assistant Professor
Department of Electrical Engineering
University of Chile


Dr. Claudia Rahmann received a masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Chile in 2005, and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the RWTH-Aachen University in Germany in 2010 with a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). During her stay in Germany, Dr. Rahmann worked with dynamic modeling of renewable energy technologies and analyzed their impacts on power system stability and control. Since her return to Chile, she has continued to work on these topics as an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Chile. Moreover, she has extended her research focus to include the economic aspects involved. Dr. Rahmann teaches courses that are focused on both, the operation of power systems and network integration of renewable energies.


Social and Behavioral Adaptation to Climate Change

Dr. Nicole Klenk
Assistant Professor
Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario


Dr. Klenk is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough where she is cross-appointed between the Departments of Physical and Environmental Sciences and Political Science and she is the director of a new environmental studies program. Dr. Klenk has a background in botany and forest ecology, but in her PhD she became a social scientist. Her dissertation established a pragmatic democratic path forward in forest resource management and governance. Conceptually, her results challenged the normative underpinnings of professional elitism and closed policy circles in forestry; practically, they provided a means for designing more socially inclusive and robust approaches to knowledge production and decision-making in the natural resource sector. This work has garnered the attention of policy makers in several Canadian provinces, including Quebec where it has been cited by the former Chief Forester in his recommendations on the management of the boreal forest. Dr. Klenk’s research integrates theories and methods from political science and sociology of science and has predominantly been informed by contemporary social theory (e.g., actor-network theory and new institutionalism). She has authored over 25 articles, including in notable journals such as WIREs Climate Change, Environmental Science and Policy, and Social Studies of Science.


Dr. Katharine Meehan
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon    
United States


Dr. Katie Meehan received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Oregon in Environmental Studies and Political Science. Dr. Meehan holds a masters of science from the University of Oxford in Environmental Change and Management and a PhD in Geography from the University of Arizona. Dr. Meehan is Assistant Professor in Geography at the University of Oregon, with research and teaching interests in water governance and policy, urban infrastructure and development, and political ecology. Her work in Mexico explores the institutional challenges of implementing rainwater harvesting as a water supply alternative. Prior to her academic career, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize (2000-2002) and Guatemala (2002-2003).


Dr. Fabian Mendez
Chair and Associate Professor
School of Public Health
Universidad del Valle
Cali, Valle del Cauca


Dr. Fabian Mendez holds a masters of science in Epidemiology and a medical degree from Universidad del Valle in Cali Colombia. Dr. Mendez holds a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the head of the School of Public Health at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. Dr. Mendez’s initial investigations were focused on vector borne diseases, mainly malaria and dengue, their connections to transmission dynamics with control and treatment strategies. The strong relationship between these diseases and environmental factors directed his research towards studying the consequences of environmental agents on human health, particularly the effects of water and food contamination during pregnancy and early childhood. Dr. Mendez’s academic interests are now mainly focused on trans-disciplinary approaches to cope with complex issues of sustainable development and health.


Dr. Sandra Lee Pinel
Visiting Professor
College of Architecture
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska
United States


United States Dr. Sandra Pinel holds a masters and doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with minors in Anthropology and Latin American Studies, and a bachelors degree in anthropology from Brandeis University. Her research interests are cross-cultural landscapes, regional development and multi-jurisdictional collaborative governance for rural and urban regions in the Western US, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Pinel co-leads the MtnSEON Research Collaborative Network project funded by the National Science Foundation and serves as a Prometeo Scholar for Ecuador. Other positions have included the 2014 Hyde Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Nebraska, academic program coordinator and faculty for the University of Idaho Bioregional Planning and Community Design graduate program, and senior planner and program officer for multiple urban and rural development and conservation programs with tribal governments, regional planning agencies, foundations, and national agencies in several states. Pinel is a former Boren scholar (Philippines), a sustaining fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, and a continuing member of American Institute of Certified Planners and American Planning Association where she serves on the board of the Regional and Intergovernmental Division.


Dr. Pablo Alberto Torres Lima
Department of Agricultural and Animal Production
Universidad Autonoma Metroplitana
Coyoacan, Distrito Federal


Pablo Torres Lima is an agricultural anthropologist specialist in the areas of agricultural systems and environmental indicators, peri-urban and rural populations, regional development and sustainable agriculture. He earned a bachelors degree in Agronomist Engineering from the Metropolitan Autonomous University in 1983, a masters degree in Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine in 1994, and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 1997. Dr. Torres Lima is a professor at the Agricultural and Animal Production Department at Metropolitan Autonomous University and he has been a Visiting Scholar at Brown University. He has published 14 books and 56 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is member of the National Researchers System in Mexico.


Dr. Cecilia Claudia Turin Canchaya
Postdoctoral Researcher
International Potato Center


Dr. Cecilia Claudia Turin Canchaya is an interdisciplinary scientist with academic degrees in agricultural, development and social sciences.  She studied and taught at the school of Animal Science of the National Agrarian University La Molina. She earned a masters degree in Agricultural Extension at Larenstein University in the Netherlands through the Nuffic scholarship. Through a Fulbright LASPAU Program, Dr. Turin Canchaya earned a PhD in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri.  Her work focuses on the social dimension of socio-environmental conflicts and on the adaptation of rural livelihoods to climate, social and institutional change.  She believes in construction of participatory intercultural inter-learning processes as a good way for education, gender empowerment, political participation and people transformation for the sustainable development of small scale farmers.  Dr. Turin Canchaya is currently pursuing  postdoctoral research on climate change adaptation and gender at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). She is based at the International Potato Center, Peru. Currently she is working on formalizing climate risk perception of farmers and understanding the logic behind the adaptation of their livelihood strategies to climate change.