ESPP Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Arturo A. Massol-Deyá - Postponed Until Further Notice

Tue, March 24, 2020 9:30 AM - Tue, March 24, 2020 10:30 AM at Biomedical Physical Sciences Building, Room 1425

In the colonial territory of Puerto Rico, fears and traumas such as those suffered with Hurricane Maria (2017) and more recently with earthquakes (2020) are widespread in the population, due in great part to a deep distrust with the national and federal government. Neither systemic change has occurred to alter the reality of vulnerability to the climate emergency. In 2017, after Hurricane Maria, it took months and even a year for the restoration of electricity to a large part of the Island, registering some 3,000 excess deaths. Casa Pueblo is community self-management project located in the municipality of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. For 40 years, this community initiative has worked towards the protection and conservation of natural resources while promoting fair and sustainable development. Confronting dependencies in Puerto Rico is critical to build resilience and for self-determination. Since 1999 our headquarters were transformed to become energy self-sufficient with solar power. After Hurricane Maria, the project organization was an oasis for the community and activated a process to transform the energy landscape of the area as a model for community development and planetary responsibility. Solar energy is providing an alternative source of energy that is beginning to impact many facets of everyday life and emergency preparedness. Adjuntas is different today and continues a path of change, not only in resilience but in social networks. Soon the urban center will be transformed into a route to what we call Adjuntas Pueblo Solar. We know that, as a community, we can protect ourselves and transform reality with scientific knowledge and innovation. Our recent history clearly demonstrates that the true transformative power emanates from the people. The #Summer2019 and our people’s responses to ongoing earthquakes validates this path of change.  


Arturo A. Massol-Deyá is from the mountainous area of Puerto Rico in the municipality of Adjuntas where his parents Alexis Massol and Tinti Deyá founded the community-based organization Casa Pueblo. Massol-Deyá grew up in this project and chairs its Board of Directors since 2007. A graduate of the public school system (1986) and the University of Puerto Rico (1990), he obtained his doctoral degree from the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University in 1994. Since then he has been a faculty member at the Department of Biology of the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus where he established the Tropical Microbial Ecology Lab. He has been a mentor to numerous students and a principal investigator of projects on microbial ecology with emphasis on biological processes aimed at restoring contaminated environments.