Community science for environmental justice in Colombia

Event Start Date: February 27, 2017 10:00 AM
Event End Date: February 27, 2017 12:00 PM

Irene Velez-Torres, School of Natural Resources and Environmental Engineering, Universidad del Valle, Colombia

LOCATION: Frazier Rogers Hall, Room 122, 10:00am, Feb 27, 2017

Dr. Velez-Torres’ research focuses on environmental conflicts on the access and control over natural resources in Colombia. Currently, Dr. Velez-Torres is interested in the analysis of the social, political and environmental transitions in the context of the Peace Agreement between FARC guerrilla and the Colombian government. She aims to contribute to transformative processes by engaging in academic projects that can add to the mobilization agendas of local communities who aspire social and environmental sustainability and justice. Dr. Velez-Torres is currently collaborating with Dr. Eric S. McLamore (Ag & Bio Engineering at UF) to use nano-biosensors for creating “environmental maps” of mercury contamination in water bodies, fish, and humans. The project aims to develop a strategy platform for participatory mercury monitoring and community protection from pollution generated by illegal gold mining in the Pacific Region of Colombia. The seminar will kick off a two-day workshop related to mercury contamination, also including seminars by UF faculty and a hands-on activity for creating/using biosensors (detailed agenda below). The event is hosted by the UF Water Institute (Frazier Rogers Hall, Room 122) and is open to UF faculty and students (no charge).

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Irene Vélez-Torres received a Ph.D. in Human and Political Geography from the University of Copenhagen. She is Associate Professor in EIDENAR, Universidad del Valle (Colombia), where she works on the critical analysis of socio-environmental conflicts, ethnic inequality, and community assessment of environmental contamination in Colombia. She has explored participatory and interdisciplinary methodologies in order to create knowledge that is valuable for the communities as well as for academia. List of publications available in google scholar

Detailed description of speaker’s visit:

The UF Water Institute will host a one-day seminar series on Feb 27th for faculty, students and staff centered around the theme of environmental/public health issues related to mercury (see detailed agenda below). In addition, Dr. McLamore will host a workshop on preparation of sensors for measuring mercury, which will be open to all faculty/staff/students in addition to community members who contact Dr. McLamore prior to Feb 20th. UF students will be recruited through SHEP, ABEGSO, and LAS email brochures.

Draft agenda (all events take place in Frazier Rogers Hall, Room # 122)

Feb 27th

9:00 am: Introduction and welcome, Coffee and continental breakfast

10:00 am: Keynote speaker presentation (Dr. Velez-Torres)

10:30 am: Question/answer session with keynote

11:00 am: Refreshment break

11:30 am: Seminar: Low-cost nanosensors for measuring mercury (Dr. McLamore)

12:00 pm: Seminar: Agent-based modeling for environmental risk assessment (Dr. Kiker)

12:30 pm: Seminar: Effects of mercury on ecology/wildlife (Dr. Frederick)

1:00 pm: Lunch on your own

3:00 pm: Grant planning and future research strategic meeting

5:00 pm: Dinner and discussion (Tops restaurant, all are welcome to attend)


Feb 28th

9:00 am: Breakfast with ABE faculty

10:00 am: Meeting with faculty from Dep of Env. And Global Health

11:00 am: Meeting with faculty from LAS

12:00 pm: Lunch with visitor

1:00 pm: Meeting with Dr. Munoz-Carpena (ABE)

2:00 pm: Nanosensor workshop: Measuring water quality and food safety

4:00 pm: Wrap-up and closing remarks

If you are interested in attending the nanosensors workshop, email Dr. McLamore ( by Feb 20th, 2017.