RISE 2019 Conference - CO-CHAIRS

Transforming University Engagement In Pre- and Post-Disaster Environments: Lessons from Puerto Rico

Cecilio Ortiz Garcia, PhD (RISE Co-Chair)
Professor, Political Science,
Department of Social Sciences,
University of Puerto Rico

Cecilio Ortiz Garcia

Cecilio Ortiz Garcia is Professor of Political Science at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. His research focuses on environmental /energy justice issues and the governance of socio-technical systems transitions. He is the author of “Airs of Injustice: How Air Pollution Affects the Health of Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S. (2004). 

In 2009, Dr. Ortiz Garcia served as Co-Principal Investigator in the project Sustainable Development for Rural Communities: Social, Health, Economic and Environmental Advances. Through this project a consortium of universities and colleges in Mexico, Canada and the United States tackled crucial issues in rural sustainability preparing a new generation of students and creating a collaborative network of researchers.  

In 2015, he co-founded the National Institute of Energy and Island Sustainability of the University of Puerto Rico. This Institute is an interdisciplinary effort to connect all energy and sustainability-related research and development inside the UPR system in a convergence platform across its eleven campuses. After Hurricane Maria, and in collaboration with the Arizona State University School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and colleagues at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ortiz Garcia formed the RISE-Puerto Rico Platform (Resiliency through Innovation in Sustainable Energy). RISE- Puerto Rico seeks to re-design the way University-Community relations develop for more just and culturally respectful university post-disaster interventions. 


Marla Pérez Lugo, PhD (RISE Co-Chair)
Professor, Sociology,
Department of Social Sciences,
University of Puerto Rico

Foto Marla Perez Lugo NIEHS

Marla Perez-Lugo is a professor of Sociology at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (UPRM), since 2002. She received her Ph.D. in environmental sociology, with a special focus on vulnerability to natural hazards and risk/disaster communications, from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (2003). She has published in the journals Professional Geographer, Sociological Inquiry and Organizations and the Environment. 

Since 2005, her research has shifted towards the social aspects of energy, energy policy, interdisciplinary energy studies and public engagement in energy decision-making processes in Puerto Rico, in collaboration with her colleague and life partner Dr. Cecilio Ortiz Garcia. In 2015, in collaboration with Dr. Cecilio Ortiz Garcia and Dr. Lionel Orama Exclusa, she co-founded the National Institute for Energy and Island Sustainability (INESI in Spanish), the only interdisciplinary and Inter-campus institute of the UPR System. INESI is a collaborative platform that identifies and interconnects the resources of the UPR in energy and resilience and insert those resources in the local energy policy arena and in community-based sustainable energy projects. Dr. Perez Lugo is currently a member of INESI's steering committee and a co-developer of RISE-PR, which stands for Resilience through Innovation in Sustainable Energy for Puerto Rico, an interuniversity collaborative platform with colleagues at Arizona State University and University of Minnesota.