PLACA Summer Research Grant

Student Recipients 2007

Emily R. Billo

Department of Geography

Emily Billo

Emily completed her Master’s degree in Regional Planning at Cornell University in August 2006, and entered the PhD program in Geography in the fall of 2006.  Her master’s research was concerned with the transnational advocacy network of environmental and indigenous organizations in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region.  This network had been working to expose the environmental and social transgressions of the oil industry in the region, while also calling attention to the rights and representation of indigenous peoples in the state.  While conducting field research in Ecuador in July 2005 in Ecuador, she uncovered additional questions about the role that private oil corporations play in indigenous communities, and specifically the strategic use of corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects, including the construction of schools, medical facilities and potable water systems, in enabling additional oil extraction. 

Emily’s PhD research will examine these CSR policies and projects within the context of neoliberal governance in Ecuador’s Amazon region.  She is interested in exploring the implementation of CSR projects from the perspective of both a private oil corporation and a local indigenous community in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region.  Emily is using PLACA funds to travel to Ecuador to conduct pre-dissertation research in July 2007.  She plans to establish contacts with various environmental and social organizations, in addition to oil corporations and indigenous communities, to conduct her dissertation research during the 2008-2009 academic year. 

Beatriz Bustos

Department of Geography

Beatriz Bustos

I am a PhD student of Geography at Syracuse University.  I am also from Chile, where I received a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Chile in 2000, and worked professionally as researcher in RIDES.  I completed my Master’s degree in Anthropology at the same university, working with the Atacameno community of Toconao and their process to manage the Laguna Chaxa Park. I was awarded a Fulbright-OAS scholarship in 2004 to come to the US to study environmental policy.

My research focus is on the intersection between environmental policy and development geography. Particularly, I am looking at the role of civil society actors (NGOs, universities and corporations) in producing knowledge relevant for the design and implementation of environmental policy in a context of neoliberal economies and globalization. I want to understand on the one hand, strategies used by non-state actors to introduce their demands into the environmental agenda, and on the other, how these strategies are transforming the material landscape which they aim to protect from the impacts of neoliberalism.  My research takes as case study the Los Lagos region in Chile, and more concretely, the case of the salmon industry and the creation of private protected areas. 

Other themes that I am interested in that are associated with this research are knowledge production and privatization of knowledge, non-state actors and environmental governance; neoliberalism; political ecology and development.

Paula Hermida

Department of Anthropology

Paula Hermida

Paula received her BA in cultural anthropology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Quito and is currently a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at Syracuse University. Her research and work experience has been in projects looking at the intersections of anthropology, health care, and citizenship studies. She plans to conduct her dissertation research on Ecuadorian “mestizo” identities and understandings of racial/cultural mixture or “mestizaje” in the context of changing identity politics in the region. This summer she will conduct preliminary ethnographic research in Quito Ecuador to gather information on the racialization of popular music genres and other cultural practices. This experience and data gathered will contribute to the process of formulating her dissertation proposal.

Nancy Hiemstra  

Department of Geography 

Nancy Hiemstra

Nancy Hiemstra is currently a first year PhD student in the Department of Geography. Prior to studying at Syracuse University, she completed her Masters degree in Geography at the University of Oregon. Broadly speaking, Nancy’s research interests include immigration, citizenship, race, the role of the state, and Latin America. Nancy’s Master’s thesis examined how the small town of Leadville, Colorado, is changing in the context of significant Mexican immigration. The PLACA summer funding grant supports doctoral research on Ecuadorian immigration. Approximately 20% of Ecuador’s population now lives abroad; the principal destinations are the U.S. and Spain. Using qualitative research methods, this research explores the consequences of such high levels of out-migration from Ecuador. It will compare the consequences of U.S. and Spanish immigration policy in Ecuador, in the daily lives of immigrants’ families and communities. The project also explores how the Ecuadorian government supports and/or discourages the emigration of its citizens.

Krystal Kessee

Cultural Foundations of Education, Women's Studies

Krystal Kessee

Krystal Kessee has completed a Master's of Science in Cultural Foundations of Education and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Women's Studies. In each concentration she focused on how popular culture works as in enabler of Black youth's identity. She is dedicated to promoting a healthy space for young Black women and girls across the African Diaspora to assert their identities in multiple capacities.  It is most important for her to foster a transnational connection with the greater Black women's population to re-present an abundance of information related to our identity otherwise lost in current popular culture.  In Santo Domingo Dominican Republic her thesis was to dissect and re-engage in how U.S. popular culture has influenced current Dominican popular culture specifically affecting how youth conceptualizes their racial and social identity.

Samantha Rebovich

Department of Anthropology

Samantha Rebovich

Samantha is a Ph.D. student in historical archaeology in the Department of Anthropology.  Prior to coming to Syracuse, she received a Bachelor’s Degree in anthropology from Barnard College in 2005.  Her dissertation research focuses on the African Diaspora through a comparative study of eighteenth-century plantations in Antigua and Long Island, New York.  Specifically, she is researching the nature of power relationships, trade, and everyday life for the enslaved labor force on plantations owned by the Martin family, a wealthy British planting family, in these two regions.  This study will give insights into these topics on each site, and also seeks to highlight the extent of interactions between the American Northeast and the Caribbean during the eighteenth century.  The 2007 PLACA Summer Research Grant will allow Samantha to go to Antigua where she will conduct preliminary archaeological surveying and excavation at two of the Martin family’s plantations.  She will also begin preliminary archival research at the Antiguan National Archives and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.

Jason M. Townsend

ESF

Jason M. Townsend

Since receiving his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont, Jason has been involved with many research projects focusing on the ecology of birds.  His research interests include bird conservation, migration, energy of migration, and island endemism.  He has worked in New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Malaysia, Thailand, and most recently in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  A component of his Ph.D. research involves an assessment of Dominican attitudes toward pet ownership and the illegal cage-bird trade in endangered Hispaniolan Parrots.  Support from PLACA allowed Jason to do preliminary household surveys in the south of the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2007.  Jason additionally is studying the winter ecology of the Bicknell’s Thrush, a rare migratory bird species, at two sites in the Dominican Republic.  He is also studying how wintering bird densities vary between forested sites, organically managed agroforestry sites, and conventional agroforestry sites. 

Christian Williamson

Department of Anthropology

Christian Williamson

Christian is a PhD student in the Anthropology department.  He has a B.A. in Anthropology from Mississippi State University and a Master's degree from Louisiana State University.  His research interests include historical archaeology and the African disapora in the Caribbean.  The PLACA summer research grant will be used to establish community contacts, conduct preliminary subsurface testing and map standing structures within an historic, Danish urban houselot in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas.