Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

IBES to welcome six new postdoctoral associates

Postdoctoral associates are essential to the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society’s commitment to research and education; Drs. Emerson Baptista, Justin Becknell, Sylvia Dee, Dana Graef, Germán Vergara, and Kate Weinberger are no exception. This summer, the Institute will proudly welcome these six accomplished and innovative individuals as its newest scholars and teachers. The diverse group - which includes a demographer, an ecologist, a climate dynamicist, a sociocultural anthropologist, an environmental historian, and an environmental health scientist - will support and extend the IBES tradition of employing multidisciplinary discourse to answer pressing questions that lie at the intersection of environment and society.

“[IBES] will be an ideal place to apply my training in environmental health sciences to address human health dimensions of climate change,” said Weinberger, a Voss Postdoctoral Fellow, whose dissertation explored the effects of climate change on pollen-mediated allergic diseases such as asthma. At Brown, Weinberger will work alongside IBES fellows Gregory Wellenius (Epidemiology) and Jung-Eun Lee (Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences) to identify the individual, societal, and environmental determinants that confer sensitivity to extreme weather patterns. 

Dee’s expertise also lies in identifying environmental vulnerabilities. She too will work with Jung-Eun Lee, as well as Associate Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences Steven Clemens, to model climate change in the Americas and identify regions that harbor the greatest risk for drought. Dee, a Voss Postdoctoral Fellow, anticipates that the Institute’s multi-disciplinary strengths and esteemed reputation with policy makers will support her intention to “extend earth science modeling results into answering important political and societal questions.”

Vergara’s research similarly focuses on the impact an environment has on the socio-political future of its people. Originally from Mexico City, he is interested in exploring the environmental and sociological effects of Latin American industrialization and natural resource use in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He will continue this work at Brown as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, teaching courses in both the History department and the Environmental Studies curriculum. 

Graef will also work across disciplines, alongside IBES Director Amanda Lynch (Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences) and Anthropology Chair Dan Smith. She will investigate the intersections of environmentalism and agrarian change with an emphasis on indigenous agricultural practices, the development of organic agriculture, and histories of environmental resistance. Graef will also teach an undergraduate Anthropology class entitled “What Does It Mean To Be Green?,” an in-depth exploration of various green designations throughout the world. Her postdoctoral appointment is supported by Brown’s Cogut Center for the Humanities. 

Baptista and Becknell will share Graef’s and Vergara’s international focus through their work on the Brazilian Mata Atlantica project headed by IBES Deputy Director for Research Leah VanWey (Sociology) and faculty fellow Stephen Porder (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). Baptista will analyze sociodemographic surveys and examine land use in the country’s Atlantic rainforest region, while Becknell will draw upon his expertise in tropical secondary forests in order to assist the project’s Principle Investigators with analysis of regional forestry data.  

Sponsorship of both Baptista and Becknell has been made possible by an anonymous gift to Brown University. 

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