Renata Utsunomiya Joins LACC as a Visiting Scholar from Brazil


Renata Utsunomiya holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil, with a focus on Impact Assessment and Environmental Management. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Science Graduate Program (PROCAM) at USP. Renata has seven years of experience working and conducting research with different indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon, focusing on the social-ecological impacts of large infrastructure projects, especially hydroelectrical dams. Her research interests include the interconnections between social and ecological transformations resulting from hydroelectric dam construction in Amazonian rivers, looking at issues such as environmental and territorial management, biocultural heritage, and community engagement. Renata has also participated in and co-led projects connected to the “Amazon Dams International Research Network (ADN/RBA/RIRA, Brazil, Bolivia and the US)” and the “Environmental Planning and Management Research Group in Brazil” (Brazil).

For her Ph.D. research, she is conducting participatory research among the Arara indigenous people from the Big Bend of Xingu River (Volta Grande do Xingu) in the Brazilian Amazon, whose livelihoods have been greatly affected by the construction of the Belo Monte Dam. In her research and practice working with Amazonian indigenous peoples, she integrates participatory, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and visual methods. Renata is a Visual Artist with hands-on experience with graphic facilitation, using art as a tool in participatory and collaborative learning processes.

As an FIU Visiting Scholar for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters, she expects to exchange knowledge with FIU Faculty and students; engage in collaborative scientific production; work on research design and on preliminary data analysis related to her doctoral project; and participate in FIU research projects focused on Amazon freshwater systems. She is also committed to present preliminary research results of her doctoral research to the FIU community, participate in activities of the Program of Excellence in Brazilian Studies at LACC, and contribute to strengthen FIU’s excellence and expertise on bridging socio-environmental research, governance and policy-making in the Amazon and elsewhere.