The Mary Fran Myers Award, 2021


Melinda González

2021 Recipient of the Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award

Afro-Indigenous scholar-activist-poet of Puerto Rican descent. She is a socio-cultural anthropologist, focused on environmental anthropology, whose work maps how disaster is differentially distributed across race, class, and gender, and she brings decolonial and indigenous research methods to the study of new media technologies in environmental justice studies. Her dissertation research “Rhyming Through Disaster” examines the lived experiences of Hurricane Maria survivors in Puerto Rico and New York and their long-term disaster recovery efforts through the use of digital space, poetry, and community organizing. Her next project, tentatively titled, “Urban Water Wars,” will address racial disparities in the ongoing water crisis in urban centers of the United States, with particular focus on Newark, New Jersey.

Melinda received her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Barnard College, Columbia University in May 2007, where she pursued undergraduate research on the role of women in the New York Chapter of the Puerto Rican revolutionary civil rights organization, The Young Lords Party. In October 2012, Melinda graduated with a master’s degree in Anthropology from Rutgers University – The State University of New Jersey where she pursued research on poetry and hip hop as tools of resistance against femicide and colonial repression in Oaxaca City, Mexico and in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While a student at LSU beginning in August 2016, Melinda served as research assistant to Dr. Micha Rahder on a collaborative multi-sited ethnographic research project, entitled “Maya Forest Futures: Violence, Uncertainty, and Transnational Biodiversity Conservation in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.” Melinda has engaged in collaborative ethnographic writing and research on feminist anthropological approaches to creating research methods for anthropologists with disabilities and single parents in the academy.

Melinda received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Louisiana State University in May 2021. Beginning Fall 2021, she is a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University.

She is a performance / spoken word poet that has performed internationally, and a practitioner of the Brasilian martial art capoeira.

Melinda believes that decolonizing the academy starts with providing graduate students and contingent faculty with livable wages and access to free medical and mental health care.

Previously: 2020 Mary Fran Myers Awardee - May Maloney

Marina Hamidzada has actively started working with women and supporting them as Women’s Program Manager with Relief International and pursued the objective to be a voice for the Afghan women since then. She has recently completed her Ph.D. Degree Urban Management (Human Security Engineering) with her research topic “Afghan Women Involvement in Disaster Risk Management Process in Afghanistan” from Kyoto University, Engineering Graduate School.


Call for Nominations

The Gender and Disaster Network and the Natural Hazards Center invite nominations of those who should be recognized for their efforts to advance gender-sensitive policy, practice, or research in the areas of disaster risk reduction. Read more

List of award recipients