Cuban environmentalist to speak at URI March 1 for Distinguished Visiting International Scholars Program

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María Elena Castellanos González

KINGSTON, R.I., Feb. 15, 2017— Cienfuegos Bay in Cuba is one of the most beautiful coastal areas in the island nation, thanks, in part, to efforts by Cuban environmentalists like María Elena Castellanos González.

González will share her expertise on coastal communities with the University of Rhode Island March 1 in a talk that is part of URI’s highly acclaimed Distinguished Visiting International Scholars Program.

Her talk, “Cuba’s Coastal Communities: Partnering to Save Cienfuegos Bay,” will start at 6 p.m. in the Richard E. Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, 140 Flagg Road on the Kingston campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Much of what is occurring at Cienfuegos Bay—called the “Pearl of the South”—mirrors the challenges facing Narragansett Bay.

González is a professor at the University of Cienfuegos and a researcher at the Center for Environmental Studies of Cienfuegos, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment in Cuba.

Her visit from Feb. 27 through March 3 to URI’s Kingston and Narragansett Bay campuses reflects the University’s initiative to strengthen academic ties and faculty and student exchanges with Cuban universities.

At URI, González will discuss how she and her colleagues support management of Cuba’s Cienfuegos Bay through community organizing, environmental education and water quality research. Her work has become especially urgent in Cuba as climate change alters the coastline.

González is the principal investigator in integrated watershed and coastal management at the University of Cienfuegos, Center for Environmental Studies, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment of Cuba.

She has a master’s degree in ocean management from Dalhousie University in Canada and a doctorate in education sciences from the University of Havana. She has participated in many regional conferences in Latin America, the Caribbean and North America.

González will also lead a seminar with URI faculty, students and staff Feb. 27 at 3:30 p.m. in the Coastal Institute Auditorium on the Narragansett Bay campus. The topic is “Effective Watershed Management Through Integration of Research, Extension and Education in Cienfuegos Bay, Cuba.’’

González’s visit is part of URI’s Distinguished Visiting International Scholars Program, which provides funding to bring scholars from outside the United States to meet with URI students, faculty and administrators and give a public lecture.

Sponsors of the event are: the Office of the Provost; Coastal Resources Center; College of the Environment and Life Sciences; Department of Economics; Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Sciences; Department of Political Science; and Graduate School of Oceanography.

“We’re looking forward to a rich exchange of experience working with various stakeholders in managing coastal resources,’’ says Pamela Rubinoff, coastal extension specialist at the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant at GSO. “I think we will find many similarities of issues and opportunities across cultures.”

For more information about the lecture, please call 401-874-6135.