LACC Welcomes Dr. Athayde and Dr. Jenkins as New Faculty Members

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Dr. Simone Athayde has worked across the Amazonian region for over 20 years, supporting Indigenous peoples and local communities in their self-determination, sustainable livelihoods, and territorial rights. Her mission is to achieve excellence in connecting interdisciplinary research to the science-policy interface, as well as in science education and communication. She works towards reconciling socio-environmental justice, biocultural diversity conservation, and sustainable development. As an environmental anthropologist and interdisciplinary ecologist, Dr. Athayde's research examines the impacts of large infrastructure projects and climate change on Indigenous peoples and local communities across the Amazon, as well as their responses and agency over these processes.

Before coming to LACC, Dr. Athayde worked for 10 years as an Associate Research Scientist and Core Faculty in the Tropical Conservation and Development Program (TCD), in the Center for Latin American Studies at University of Florida. At UF, she was co-founder of the Amazon Dams International Research Network (ADN), an international program focused on advancing inter- and trans-disciplinary research to study the social-ecological effects of hydroelectric dam implementation across the Amazon. As the UF and US leader of this program from 2010-2018, Dr. Athayde established strategic collaborations and raised funds from both Brazilian and US public and private agencies. She worked as liaison between US and several Brazilian academic, governmental and civil society institutions, including Universities, the Federal Prosecution Service (MPF), the Brazilian Energy Research Office in the Mines and Energy Ministry (EPE/MME), the Ministry of the Environment (MME), and the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL). In 2016, due to strong international and interdisciplinary coordination, the ADN/TCD was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Coupled-Natural-Human-Research Coordination Networks (CNH-RCN) grant. Currently, the ADN involves over 200 researchers, students, practitioners and government officers. It has enabled critical dialogue and co-construction of knowledge among academia and society, including underrepresented social and cultural minorities such as women in science, indigenous peoples and local communities across the Amazon.

Dr. Athayde plans to work with several FIU faculty, staff, and students, as well as with diverse Brazilian social actors, to develop a joint vision and a strong research component for the new Brazilian Studies Institute at LACC. She would like to deepen her research and practice on socio-environmental governance and justice across the Amazon, including strengthening participatory planning and management of Amazonian rivers and forests in collaboration with diverse stakeholders. Dr. Athayde is particularly keen to exploring more sustainable post-COVID 19 pathways for Amazonian conservation and development. In connection with FIU’s Global Indigenous Forum and other Centers and departments, she also plans to continue to fight for equity and inclusiveness of Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women and other minorities in science, academia, and decision-making spaces. She is excited to find out that FIU has such a strong record and commitment to diversity and equity.

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Dr. Clinton Jenkins's main research areas include conservation ecology, biodiversity, endangered species, spatial analysis and conservation planning. His work focuses on the conservation of biological diversity and efforts to reduce the loss of tropical species and ecosystems. Dr. Jenkins's research looks specifically at Brazil, the Atlantic Forest and the Amazon. He specializes in combining spatial modeling of biodiversity with analysis of conservation policy. The aim is ultimately to direct conservation investments and policies toward the places to save biodiversity most efficiently and effectively. Dr. Jenkins has substantial experience in on-the-ground conservation as he previously spent 7 years in Brazil at the IPÊ – Institute for Ecological Research and has partnerships with several Brazilian NGOs. He also runs the Biodiversity Mapping website for dissemination of data on global biodiversity.

Before arriving to LACC, Dr. Jenkins was a Professor and Research Coordinator at the IPÊ – Institute for Ecological Research (Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas) in Brazil for 7 years. The institute has a presence throughout Brazil and is perhaps unique in its combining of active conservation and environmental protection programs with a graduate program, including a master’s degree in Conservation and Sustainable Development as well as an MBA program.

As a new faculty member, Dr. Jenkins wants to build a robust program for evaluating Brazilian environmental policies and promoting evidence-based environmental management. He sees his new home at FIU and LACC as an ideal place to bring together the expertise to analyze and inform such policy. He also wants to bring more visibility to the true diversity that is Brazil to the FIU community. There is so much more to the country than just the Amazon and Rio de Janeiro that so often appears in popular media.