ISA Faculty Spotlight: John Bruno

The Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge of the Latin American experience in the Western Hemisphere. We were pleased to sit down with ISA faculty member and marine ecologist John Bruno, who researches marine biodiversity and macroecology, coral reef ecology and conservation, and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. Professor Bruno recently received a National Science Foundation grant to study how temperature affects marine food webs in the Galápagos Islands.

Prof. John Bruno

Q: Prof. Bruno, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us more about the application process for a National Science Foundation grant? 

A: First, we spent a few years collecting pilot data, basically proving what we proposed would actually work. Then we we wrote the proposal; 15 pages single-spaced for the main project description plus a dozen or so ancillary documents including a very detailed budget, and a data management plant. After submission you wait six months for the reviews and decision. The first time it wasn’t funded and we were asked to make a number of changes. We did and luckily – a mere five years after conception – the project was funded.

Q: Five years, wow! Congratulations again! Tell us about the work you will do and what outcomes you anticipate finding. 

A: The goal of the project is to understand how temperature affects marine food webs. Most marine animals are ecotherms, meaning their body temperature matches the temperature of seawater. The Galápagos are unique in that there is a very strong temperature gradient across the islands. This enables us to conduct experiments, measuring how temperature affects, for examples, the rate at which sea urchins eat algae and thus how much algae is left standing on the seafloor.

View from the Galápagos Islands; photo courtesy of John Bruno

Q: How does this relate to research you have conducted before?

The role of temperature has been a theme in my lab for a long time. Sometimes we perform experiments in aquariums in the lab. We also use satellite data on ocean temperature combined with ecological data to try to figure out how temperature is affecting the way marine ecosystems work. Its important to test the outcomes of that work out in the real world, but you can’t really experimentally warm up part of the ocean. So this is a really exciting opportunity to take the next step in this work.

Q: We think it’s exciting too! What do you hope others can take away from this project?

A: We think the work could totally change the way marine ecologists think about these kinds of ecosystems.  The long-standing paradigm is that the amount of seaweed attached rocks on the sea floor or phytoplankton in the water column is controlled by nutrient availability. Currents periodically bring cold nutrient-rich water up from the deep and when that happens you see big blooms of algae in the ocean. Our work will test an alternative explanation for this phenomena: we think the colder water is greatly slowing down the metabolism and grazing rate of herbivores, which stop eating the algae.

Photo courtesy of John Bruno

But the big takeaway will be how ocean warming will affect the marine plants and animals in this system.  The Galápagos are projected to warm much faster than most regions and we currently have little understanding of how climate change will impact this unique ecosystem.

Q: We look forward to learning more. What is it like to be in the Galápagos?

A: Well, its a crazy place to work. Even though its on the equator, the water gets very cold in July and August. And it looks nothing like the tropical environments I’m used to working on in the Belize. In the Galápagos there are penguins, orcas, and sea lions! So it feels a lot more like northern California.

We’d love to be around that kind of wildlife! Thank you again for joining us, we look forward to seeing the results!

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Mexico Study Tour Helps NC Public School Teachers Bring Global Dimension to Classroom

Thank you to our friends at UNC Global. To see the original article, click here

Mexico Study Tour participant Carrie McMillan of Durham Public Schools talks with students at Escuela Mátires de Chicago, a public school in Progreso, Mexico.

In the three years since a group of teachers traveled to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to learn about a different education system and broaden their perspectives, they and their K-12 students are still reaping the benefits.

Betty Brandt Rouse, an English as a second language (ESL) teacher at Creekside Elementary School in Durham, recently reflected on a Mexico Study Tour she and fellow teachers took in 2014. “We were able to [talk] with teachers in Mexico and learn a lot about how their school system differs from our school system,” she said, “and to get to actually see it and be there hands-on. It was a really powerful experience.”

Rouse was one of eight North Carolina public school teachers who participated in the Mexico Study Tour organized by the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, a collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for the Study of the Americas and Duke University Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Participants attended a series of pre-trip workshops to prepare them for the experience. Once in Mexico, they spent nine days meeting with Mexican educators, visiting schools and historic sites, and engaging in multicultural experiences such as homestays and cooking classes.

Emily Chávez, outreach program coordinator for the consortium, designed and led the study tour with assistance from the site coordinator, Mariana Domínguez.

A teacher at Escuela Mátires de Chicago in Progreso, Mexico, works with a group of primary school students.

“I wanted the teachers to better understand their role as North Carolina teachers within a global context—and to understand that our lives and our privileges in the U.S. are inevitably intertwined with the people of Latin America and Mexico in particular,” explained Chávez. “I wanted the teachers to have a variety of experiences that got them thinking about the role of history, the role of political power, who shapes education, and what it means and what it takes to retain Maya culture and language within and outside Maya communities.”

One aspect of the program was creating new curriculum to implement in the classroom. Nicole Emmert, teacher librarian and school testing coordinator at Oak Lane Elementary School in Hurdle Mills, incorporated aspects of Maya culture and art into library studies. She’s installed art from around the world and has created exploratory centers and clubs based on the culture and ideas of other countries.

“I have maps and globes everywhere in the library for students to study and explore,” Emmert said. “They are more interested in other countries and ways of life now. Students are less intimidated about the idea of travel.”

Rouse brought back artifacts from her time in Mexico that she incorporates into her lessons—instruments, Maya toys and games, indigenous clothing, money and children’s books written in Mayan and English.

“The big point of the unit was students being able to tell how their lives are similar and different from kids’ lives in Mexico,” Rouse said. “One part was about sports, and one was including Maya literature…we took [that] compare-and-contrast and turned that into a literacy unit.”

North Carolina K-12 educators participating in the Mexico Study Tour await instruction at Instituto Mexico, a private school in Mérida, Mexico.

By adding these multicultural components to her lessons, through pictures and other objects, and drawing on her experiences abroad, Rouse is better able to connect to students in her ESL classes. Rouse has traveled to several of the places her students are from, including Mexico, Guatemala and parts of Africa. Experiencing different cultures has helped her become more accepting of difference, particularly in the classroom.

“Being able to get out of your little bubble and being able to be in and see another place and another perspective is very beneficial for teachers,” Rouse said. “The more you understand parts of the world, the more you realize how many different ways there are to do something, and the fewer assumptions you have for each of your students…You begin to see that there is a different story behind each person.”

Emmert agrees that these life lessons were an invaluable part of the Mexico Study Tour experience.

“I’m more laid back now, and I know that teaching life and social skills is just as important—if not more so, actually—as teaching curriculum,” Emmert said. “I’ve learned to take time to listen and learn from everyone you meet.”

“The Mexico Study Tour is one way the Consortium has worked with the K-12 community to strengthen and add depth to the way North Carolinians learn and teach about Latin America and Latin American communities,” explained Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz, executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas. “The combination of UNC and Duke’s scholarly expertise in the region and the immersive nature of the visit makes the tour a particularly effective learning tool for educators.

The Mexico Study Tour was made possible with funding from the U.S. Department of Education Title VI program for National Resource Centers.

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2017 Yucatec Maya Institute Photo Gallery

Modern Yucatec Maya is a modern language spoken by people living in the Yucatán Peninsula and northern Belize. Sponsored by the UNC-Duke Consortium, the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute offers beginning, intermediate and advanced level instruction of modern Yucatec Maya. The courses are open to students, faculty, and the public.

The Maya Summer Institute offers an intensive language learning environment that provides a solid foundation in Yucatec Maya combined with a field-based, experiential program. From beginning to advanced classes, students participate in meaningful engagement with Yucatec Maya communities through a combination of classroom and field activities. Students visit a range of important historic and cultural locations. Trips to archeological and colonial sites as well as other contemporary Mayan villages are led by Maya scholars, who will introduce them to the cultural importance of each site. Mérida, the beautiful capital of the state of Yucatán, offers both modern and historic aspects of city life. Izamal was an important site of pre-Columbian civilization. Today, Maya is the first language in the homes of the majority of the people of Izamal. Valladolid is home to an innovative Maya culture and language program that promotes intercultural learning and trains a new generation of Maya-speaking students. Xocen, situated 12 kilometers southeast of Valladolid, is located in the milpa area of the Mexican state of Yucatán. It is an ancient town that played a key role in the Caste War, a 50-yeat revolt of native Maya people against the political and economic forces controlling the region.

We hope you will enjoy photos from the 25th Yucatec Maya Institute below. Many thanks to Director Hannah Palmer for sharing!

 

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Minority Languages, Major Opportunities. Collaborative Research, Community Engagement and Innovative Educational Tools (COLING)

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in coordination with the Americas Research Network (ARENET) is participating in a Language Revitalization Project based at the University of Warsaw in Poland. UNC-CH units that have supported this initiative include the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Departments of History, Romance Languages, and Linguistics. Thirteen institutions from seven countries are part of this project, which is funded by the European Commission for Research and Innovation. The four-year project will promote staff exchanges (for established scholars, research administrators, indigenous scholars, and graduate students) among all participating institutions, curriculum development, and innovative seminars on living languages and cultural content. ARENET will coordinate meetings and workshops for project participants during years 2 and 3 of the project. The proposal was developed through collaborative exchanges of texts among the Co-PIs during January-March 2017, and the principal thematic components deal with language revitalization in the Americas and Europe as well as trans-Atlantic historical movements and cultural resilience. The COLING project has an important digital component that relates well to digital humanities initiatives at UNC-CH through the College of Arts and Sciences and University Libraries.

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Director Louis A. Pérez Jr.’s “On Becoming Cuban” featured in The New York Times Books list

Director Louis A. Pérez Jr.’s “On Becoming Cuban” featured in The New York Times Books list. Read it now. 

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Guanajuato alum Ana Dougherty receives 2017 Princeton in Latin America Fellowship

Read it now!

We are pleased to share APPLES Global Course Guanajuato alum Ana Dougherty received the 2017 Princeton in Latin America Fellowship. Read more from our friends at UNC Global.

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Yucatec Maya students make connections

The Level 2 students of the Yucatec Maya  Institute deepened their knowledge of the continuity between ancient and contemporary Maya culture last week through an excursion to the archeological sites of Uxmal and Mayapán.  They were joined by a group of students studying Education and Migration under Dr. Patricia Baquedano-López of the University of California at Berkeley. The trip was enriched by the contributions of archeologist Felipe Chan Chi, whose family has lived alongside the Uxmal site for generations and who offered privileged insight into the purpose, function, and symbolism of the historic structures, and by Dr. Juan Castillo Cocom, who made a surprise appearance at Mayapan to explain how oral accounts of ancient events serve competing power interests today. The day’s activities fostered unique conversations about the conditions under which the Yucatec Maya language has developed and continues to flourish.

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Angela Stuesse (Anthropology) awarded 2017 C.L.R. James Award and 2016 Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Prize

Angela Stuesse (Anthropology) received the Working-Class Studies Association C.L.R. James Award for Published Books for Academic or General Audiences and the Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Prize for her book Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016.)

 

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Cynthia Radding (History) awarded Fulbright-García Robles Senior Scholar Fellowship

Cynthia Radding, Gussenhoven Distinguished Professor, was awarded a Fulbright-García Robles Senior Scholar Fellowship to complete her book project, “Bountiful Deserts: Environment, Nutrition, and Cultural Resilience in Arid Lands.” She will be in residence in Mexico City during Academic Year 2017-2018, where she is affiliated with the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. During May-August 2018, she will be in residence with a fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library of Brown University.

 

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From the Director: Academic Year 2016-2017 in Review

Louis A. Pérez is the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History and the Director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas.

As the tempo of academic life at Carolina slows into “summer mode,” we pause to reflect upon the accomplishments of the past year with a rightful sense of satisfaction. We are especially pleased to announce that during the academic year 2016-2017, the Institute for the Study of the Americas has awarded more than $250,000 in the form of grants, fellowships, and stipends to support undergraduate education, graduate-student research, graduate-student recruitment, language training, travel, and faculty development projects. The study of Latin America is indeed flourishing in Chapel Hill and in the aggregate makes for a vibrant environment of innovative research and professional engagement.

Global Take Off: Puerto Rico program offers first-year students a fully-funded opportunity to participate in a first-time travel experience.

ISA initiatives have continued to increase in numbers and expand in scope. The breadth of interest in Latin America at Carolina has served as the basis for a number fruitful collaborative projects on the basis of shared goals and common purpose. These have involved multiple and multifaceted activities across the College and throughout the University, within the humanities and social sciences, and the development of wider collaborative networks with the professional schools. The success of the activities during academic year 2016-2017 serves to sustain the pursuit of best practices in undergraduate education, graduate training, faculty research, and outreach initiatives.

ISA joined with the Center for Global Initiatives, the Stone Center for Black Culture and History, and the University of Puerto Rico in support of the Global Take Off: Puerto Rico Program. The open-access program offers first-year students a fully-funded opportunity to participate in a first-time travel educational experience. Twelve students participated in this year’s study program organized around the theme of food security in Puerto Rico.

ISA has also joined with the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine in Cuba to support the development of collaborative projects dealing with teaching, graduate student training, and faculty research.

Under the auspices of the Consortium, Duke and UNC hosted the very successful 64th annual meeting of the Southeastern Conference of Latin American Studies (SECOLAS) in March 2017. The 2017 Conference was one of the best attended SECOLAS programs in recent years, and included 265 registered participants from 22 states. A total of 66 panels addressed a diverse Latin American topics within the social sciences, humanities, and health sciences.

The City of Sanford awarded keys to Latino Migration Project Director Dr. Hannah Gill and Building Integrated Communities (BIC) Researcher and Coordinator Jessica White (pictured second from right) in recognition of the statewide BIC initiative.

In the course of the past year, ISA has continued to sponsor a variety of speaker programs designed to provide a venue for scholars from both within the University and beyond, including the Faculty Lecture Series, Latin America Speaker Series, and the Federico Gil Lecture Series. In this regard, we are especially gratified to announce the inauguration in 2017 of the George and Anne Platt Distinguished Lecture Series. The Series is designed to bring to Carolina annually a distinguished scholar of Latin American and/or Latino/a studies. This year’s inaugural scholar was Professor Vicki Ruiz, Distinguished Professor of History and Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California at Irvine, who spoke on the subject of “Why Latino History Matters to U. S. History.”

In 2017, the Latino Migration Project (LMP) celebrated its tenth anniversary, providing research and public education about Latin American migration and integration in North Carolina. Some accomplishments this year include the expansion of staff capabilities with a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, new partnerships with Chapel Hill and Siler City to create municipal immigrant integration plans, and the tenth Guanajuato trip as part of APPLES Global Course Guanajuato. LMP was recipient of the National League of Cities’ City Cultural Diversity Award, and the Key to the City of Sanford. The NEH-Funded New Root Oral History initiative, a collaborative project with the University Libraries and the Southern Oral History Program, was recipient of the 2016 Elizabeth B. Mason Award from the Oral History Association.

Students (above) participated in the tenth APPLES Service-Learning Global Course Guanajuato taught by Hannah Gill

Important outside funding this past year has served to support important facets of ISA programs. An award from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for $118,000 has provided the Latino Migration Project (LMP) vital support for the expansion the Building Integrated Communities (BIC) initiative. BIC assists municipal governments in North Carolina in working with foreign born residents to promote economic development, enhance multi-cultural communication, and improve community relationships.

ISA also acknowledges with appreciation the receipt this past year of a generous gift of $50,000 for the creation of the Director’s Fund for Excellence in Latin American Studies. The fund was formed to support the strategic priorities of the Curriculum of Latin American Studies, including but not limited to faculty and student support, public lectures, and program events.

It is with pleasure that we welcome Joanna Shuett to our corner of the Third Floor in the Global Education Center. Joanna has assumed the position of Department Manager and within just a few months has established a welcoming and efficient presence within ISA. We wish also to welcome Jessica White to Latino Migration Project to assume the new position of Research and Program Manager of Building Integrated Communities. We are delighted to have Jessica with us.

Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz

Hannah Gill

Several notable accomplishments were registered within ISA in the course of the past year. The accomplishments of Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz and Hannah Gill–long recognized within the community of Latin Americanists at Carolina–have been recognized by the University community at large. Beatriz received the University Award for the Advancement of Women, given by the office of Chancellor, in recognition of her contributions on behalf of women at Carolina, including mentorship of young professionals, years of leadership and advocacy of policies and cultures affecting women faculty, staff, and students. She has been an influential leader in collaborative efforts among area-study centers in the expansion of global education in North Carolina and Latin American Studies nationally.

Hannah was recognized for her years of engaged teaching and her commitment to the APPLES Service-Learning Global Course Guanajuato. Hannah was recipient of the 2017 Office of the Provost Public Service Award for Engaged Teaching. The annual spring semester course serves to train bilingual students to understand the contemporary and historical complexities of immigration through research, service-learning with immigrants in North Carolina and travel to communities of migrant origin in Guanajuato, Mexico.

2016-2017 graduating class of LTAM majors

We are delighted to congratulate the 2016-2017 graduating class of LTAM majors: Verónica Aguilar, Iris Chicas, Raina Enrique, Luis Daniel González Chávez, Lauren Groffsky, Jacqueline López, Michael Olson, Laura Ornelas, Damaris Osorio, Diego Suárez Salazar, and Jackson McKenna Wright. ISA extends its warmest best wishes for their continued success.

We end this review of academic year 2016-2017 to reflect on the personal and professional loss with the passing of Shelley Clarke. Shelley was vital a presence in all our endeavors for almost two decades. The lives of three generations of LTAM majors and two generations of graduate students were enhanced and their projects enabled through Shelley’s efforts. We will–and we do–miss Shelley–but the impact of her presence at ISA and the Latin Americanist community will endure for years to come. We celebrate her presence, the life she lived among us, and the ways she enriched the lives of almost everyone with whom she shared so much of herself.

 

Lou Pérez
June 2017

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