2013 Summer Research Grant Recipients

Bethany Eberle

MPA/Geography Student

“The Spatiality of Modern Day Slavery: An Exploration of How Geography is used to Combat Human Trafficking”

In response to the growing awareness and effort to combat human trafficking, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 mandated the implementation of a nationwide database to systematically track trafficking cases and networks.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been tasked with collecting and integrating annual human trafficking statistics from local policing districts, an undertaking that began this past January. Despite the centrality of networks and importance of place, space, scale, scope, etc. in the phenomenon, geographers as well as cartographers have made a limited contribution to the study of the spatiality of trafficking in persons. Thus, in light of the increasing emphasis on data collection and analysis, I aim to examine to what extent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and government agencies consider/use spatial information, mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) to combat human trafficking and assist survivors. 

Bethany Eberle is a Master of Public Administration and Geography dual degree candidate at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.  Her interests are in human trafficking, the geo-visualization of clandestine criminal networks and feminist and critical GIS.  She will be in Peru this summer to conduct interviews with key actors of Peruvian NGOs and government agencies who work within the field of human trafficking.

Mariana Zareth Nava Lopez  

PhD Candidate & SUNY-CONACYT fellow at SUNY-ESF

“Ecosystem Services in the southwestern watersheds of the Mexico Basin”

The Basin of Mexico, in the central part of the Mexican territory, is the perfect example of a system strongly influenced for the relationship between humans and the environment. From being a natural closed system in which the basin was a vast system of lakes, now has become an artificially open and semi-desertic basin that is home of one of the largest cities in the world, the megacity of Mexico City. The accelerated urbanization and demographic growth of Mexico City, led to a series of ecological impacts such as the deforestation of the mountains of the basin and the reduction of water quality of rivers and streams. Thus, the supply areas of ecosystem services (i.e. benefits people obtain from ecosystems) in the city were affected, and consequently Mexico City changed from a self-sufficient area, to a city highly dependent on the outside for the supply of food, water, energy fuel and disposed of wastes. I will use PLACA award to travel to my study area, the Guadalupe Lake Watershed (GLW) at the southwest of Mexico City, to analyze water quality in the streams of the surrounding mountains of the city and to evaluate the role of the landscape and the riparian habitat in providing the ecosystem service of water quality and biodiversity. My ultimate goal is to incorporate my findings in the decision making process to elaborate better sustainable management actions in the watersheds of the Basin of Mexico.

Mariana Zareth Nava Lopez is a PhD candidate and a SUNY-CONACYT fellow at SUNY-ESF. Mariana’s main research interests are in the area of ecosystem services (ESs), a concept that has gained traction as a means to quantify the strong relationship between these benefits provided by nature and human well-being. Her project is the first attempt to assess ecosystem services in the GLW and it will have further applicability in watersheds at the outskirts of megacities. 

Maria I. Espinoza

PhD candidate in Sociology

"In Between Toxic Suffering and Slow Violence: Lead Contamination in Callao"

My research focuses on how risk habituation takes place, and how people make sense and deal with toxic danger, notions of environmentalism, development, and health, as a result of globalization. As in many other areas neighboring extractive industries activities (i.e. mining, oil, etc.), the dwellers of Callao are routinely exposed to polluted air, contaminated grounds, and noxious smells. Exposure to lead contamination and environmental hazards is an everyday issue. Although this environmental and social problem has been widely publicized by the media since the early 2000, the local, state and national authorities have not effectively intervened. In recent years, scholars have conducted ethnographic work on social and toxic suffering in poor urban areas in Latin America. These studies highlight a process of risk habituation, where toxic uncertainty and collective inaction are the result of a “labor of confusion” or “slow violence” carried out by existing institutions, in the context of globalization and neoliberal reforms. I seek to comprehend how does this process of risk habituation is being socially produced and lived. The aim of this research project is to conduct fieldwork in the suburbanite neighborhoods located around the lead deposits in the port of Callao. Drawing upon interviews, life stories, archival work, and on-the-ground observation, I attempt to understand how the resident’s of these neighborhoods situate themselves in their everyday risky surroundings. Ultimately, I expect this project to answer the following questions: 1) How does people’s perception on of risk and hazards affect their everyday life and practices? 2) How do people build a “collective knowledge” (collective storytelling) in order to make sense of and deal with their toxic surroundings? 3) What are people’s notions of environmentalism, development, and health?

Maria I. Espinoza is a second year graduate student in the Sociology PhD program. Her interests lie in the areas of environmental health, biopolitics, precarious life, risk and globalization.

Taapsi Ramchandani  

PhD candidate in Anthropology

"North Meets South: The Negotiation of Knowledge in a Transnational NGO"

The Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) program, headquartered in Chaguanas, Trinidad, was established in 2012 under the auspices of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). It is an experiment to train and support 50 local governments in the Caribbean through lessons learned by Canadian municipalities, in order to enhance economic growth in their jurisdiction areas. One of the objectives of CARILED is to encourage more public-private partnerships between small and medium-size enterprises and government agencies like police departments and business assistance centers. Bolstering such partnerships are knowledge-sharing platforms which will serve as important vehicles for information dissemination at local, national, and international levels. My interest lies in the effectiveness of such knowledge transference between the global North and global South, particularly between FCM in Canada to CARILED in Trinidad. I am interested in researching the effectiveness of a ‘lessons learned’ model and the conduit of information between knowledgeable parties which could lead to development approaches locally adjusted to the needs of the community.   
Taapsi Ramchandani is a first year graduate student enrolled in the PhD program in Anthropology. Her research interests lie in the field of economic development, political representation and sustainable livelihoods. Her field site is the Caribbean, with particular emphasis on Trinidad and Tobago.