Image by Mabette Colón Pérez

“Estudiemos y preparemos nuestra generación para las luchas futuras, que se avecinan.” “Let us study and prepare our generation for the future struggles, which lie ahead.”

-Luisa Capetillo

Dr. Catalina de Onís (kawh-tawh-lee-nah dey oh nees) teaches and researches environmental, climate, and energy justice studies, Latine/x studies, and (auto)ethnographic methods. Catalina is the author of Energy Islands: Metaphors of Power, Extractivism, and Justice in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, 2021). This monograph was selected as the Book of the Year by the Rhetoric Society of America (2022) and the National Communication Association’s Environmental Communication Division (2021) and Critical and Cultural Studies Division (2022). The text also received the National Communication Association’s Winans-Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address (2022). Catalina co-authored bilingual children’s book La justicia ambiental es part ti y para mí /Environmental Justice Is for You and Me (Editora Educación Emergente, 2021). This text is available for no-cost download and also may be purchased in paperback copy. Catalina also co-authored “¡Ustedes tienen que limpiar las cenizas e irse de Puerto Rico para siempre!:” la lucha por la justicia ambiental, climática y energética como trasfondo del verano de Revolución Boricua 2019. This Spanish-language book addresses long-time environmental, energy, and power struggles in Puerto Rico and their connections to the archipelago’s mass mobilizations in summer 2019 (Editora Educación Emergente, 2020).

Catalina has published her research in Women’s Studies in Communication, the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Communication Theory, Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Women & Language, Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order, Frontiers in Communication, and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) Report, as well as in several edited collections, including Racial Ecologies (University of Washington Press), Text + Field: Innovations in Rhetorical Method (Penn State University Press), and the Routledge Companion to Motherhood. Her essay “Fueling and Delinking from Energy Coloniality in Puerto Rico” was published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research and received the 2019 Bill Eadie top scholarly article award for the National Communication Association’s Applied Communication Division. Catalina also received the 2015 Feminist Scholar of the Year award for her article on reproductive justice, borders, and translation in Women’s Studies in Communication. In addition to addressing academic audiences, she works to reach wider publics by writing popular press pieces, published by Latino Rebels, Truthout, and The Conversation, among other venues.

Catalina is a contributing diasporic member of the Iniciativa de Ecodesarrollo de Bahía de Jobos, a grassroots group in Salinas, Puerto Rico, and has focused on supporting coalition building, including in the form of distributed rooftop solar infrastructure and power sharing to cultivate energy and climate justice. As part of her coalitional contributions, she co-produced a documentary about grassroots energy justice organizing. The film, El poder del pueblo: una lucha colectiva por la vida y el medioambiente (The Power of the People: A Collective Struggle for Life and the Environment), was released in 2021 and has been screened at several film festivals in Puerto Rico and in the United States. In 2020, she co-authored a successfully funded grant proposal for $125,000 to remediate coal-ash water pollution and to advance community-rooftop solar in the Jobos Bay region of southeastern Puerto Rico.  


PhD, Indiana University, 2017
MA, University of Montana, 2011
BS, Northwestern University, 2009