Image by Mabette Colón Pérez

Dr. Catalina M. de Onís researches and teaches environmental and energy communication, Latina/o/x communication, Puerto Rican studies, de/coloniality, applied communication, and ethnographic methods. Dr. Onís is the author of Energy Islands: Metaphors of Power, Extractivism, and Justice in Puerto Rico, (University of California Press, 2021). She also 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. Dr. Onís, Dr. Hilda Lloréns, and attorney Ruth Santiago 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 mass mobilizations on Puerto Rico’s largest island in summer 2019 (Editora Educación Emergente, 2020).

Dr. Onís 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. Dr. Onís 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.

Dr. Onís is a contributing 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 communication in the form of apoyo mutuo (mutual support). 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