Catalina de Onis
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication

Mailing Address:
Department of Communication
Campus Box 176
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1201 Larimer Street
3rd Floor
Denver, CO 80204

Catalina's Personal Website:

Fall 2021 Office Hours:
By appointment on Zoom, please email to schedule a meeting.

PhD, Indiana University, 2017
MA, University of Montana, 2011
BS, Northwestern University, 2009

Dr. Catalina M. de Onís researches and teaches environmental and energy communication and Latina/o/x communication, informed by rhetorical studies. One of her essays on Puerto Rico and the Hurricane María aftermath was published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research and received the 2019 Bill Eadie top scholarly article award for the National Communication Association's Applied Communication Division. She also received the 2015 Feminist Scholar of the Year award for her article on reproductive justice, borders, and translation in Women’s Studies in Communication.

Dr. Onís has written several books to reach multilingual audiences of all ages. Dr. Onís co-authored the Spanish-language book"¡Ustedes tienen que limpiar las cenizas e irse de Puerto Rico para siempre!:” la lucha por la justicia ambiental, climática y energética como trasfondo del verano de Revolución Boricua 2019 (Editora Educación Emergente, 2020). This text addresses long-time environmental, climate, and energy struggles in Puerto Rico and their connections to the mass mobilizations in the archipelago in summer 2019. Dr. Onís also is the author of Energy Islands: Metaphors of Power, Extractivism, and Justice in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, June 2021). Most recently, she coauthored La justicia ambiental es para ti y para mí/Environmental Justice Is for You and Me, a bilingual children’s book that introduces young readers to the concept of justicia ambiental (environmental justice). This Spanish- and English-language text describes how this movement discourse and frame takes shape in Puerto Rico-based struggles against one of the largest island’s two most polluting power facilities: the AES-owned coal-fired plant. This collaborative children’s book was an intergenerational project with anthropologist Dr. Hilda Lloréns, her child and middle schooler Khalil G. García-Lloréns, and college student artist-activist Mabette Colón Pérez. The text is available for free download as an e-book, and hard copies are available for purchase online. All royalties will be donated to the Comité Diálogo Ambiental (Environmental Dialogue Committee), which coordinates an annual environmental justice camp for youth in the Jobos Bay region of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Onís has published her research in many journals, including Communication Monographs, Communication Theory, Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Women & Language, Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order, and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) Report, as well as in several edited collections, including Racial Ecologies (University of Washington Press) and the Routledge Companion to Motherhood. Her research on energy colonialism and alternatives to extractivism composes the final chapter in the open-access online book: Energy Democracy: A Research Agenda. 

Dr. Onís also is a contributing member of the Iniciativa de Ecodesarrollo de Bahía de Jobos, a grassroots group in Salinas, Puerto Rico, and has focused on supporting community solar power capacity building and distributed rooftop infrastructure for environmental, climate, and energy justice. In 2020, she led a co-authored grant proposal that was awarded $125,000 by JustFund to remediate coal-ash water pollution and to advance community-rooftop solar in the Jobos Bay region of southeastern Puerto Rico. As part of her coalitional contributions, she is co-producing a documentary with local community members in Puerto Rico about grassroots struggles for solar comunitario. The film, El poder del pueblo: una lucha colectiva por la vida y el medioambiente (The Power of the People: a Collective Struggle for Life and the Environment) is scheduled for release in 2021. 

de Onís, Catalina M. & Hilda Lloréns. “Fuera LUMA: Puerto Rico Confronts Neoliberal Electricity System Takeover Amid Ongoing Struggles for Self-determination,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (June 21, 2021).

de Onís, Catalina M. “‘L​a justicia ambiental es para ti y para mí’: Translating Collective Struggles for Environmental and Energy Justice in Puerto Rico’s Jobos Bay Communities.” Frontiers in Communication, Special issue: Communication, Race, and Outdoor Spaces, 2021. 

de Onís, Catalina M., Emilia Cubelos, & Maria del Rocio Ortiz Chavarria. “‘No había humanidad’: Critiquing English Monolingualism and Other Entwined Systems of White Supremacy in Local Emergency Management Responses.” Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order, vol. 47, nos. 1-2, 2021, pp. 135-170.  

de Onís, Catalina M., Hilda Lloréns y Ruth “Tata” Santiago. “¡Ustedes tienen que limpiar las cenizas e irse de Puerto Rico para siempre!:" la lucha por la justicia ambiental, climática y energética como trasfondo del verano de Revolución Boricua 2019.” El Verano Revolucionario Boricua 2019. Editora Educación Emergente, 2020.

de Onís, Catalina M., Hilda Lloréns, & Ruth Santiago. “Puerto Rico’s Seismic Shocks Generate OverwhelmingEvidence of Urgent Need for Community-Directed Renewable EnergyTransformations.” North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), Jan. 15, 2020.

de Onís, Catalina M. “Reproductive Justice as Environmental Justice: Contexts, Coalitions, and Cautions.” The Routledge Motherhood Companion, edited by Lynn O’Brien Hallstein, Andrea O’Reilly, and Melinda Vandenbeld Guiles, Routledge, 2019, pp. 496-509. 

de Onís, Catalina M. “Fueling and Delinking from Energy Coloniality in Puerto Rico,” Journal of Applied Communication Research, vol. 46, no. 5, 2018, pp. 535-60.

de Onís, Catalina M. “‘Es una lucha doble’: Articulating Environmental Nationalism in Puerto Rico.” Racial Ecologies, edited by Kim Hester-Williams and Leilani Nishime, University of Washington Press, 2018, pp. 185-204.

de Onís, Catalina M. “Energy Colonialism Powers the Ongoing Unnatural Disaster in Puerto Rico,” Frontiers in Communication, Special Issue: Energy Democracy, vol. 3, 2018, pp. 1-5. Lloréns, Hilda, Ruth Santiago, Carlos G. Garcia-Quijano, and Catalina M. de Onís. “Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster,” Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, & World Order, 2018.

Pezzullo, Phaedra C., and Catalina M. de Onís. “Rethinking Rhetorical Field Methods on a Precarious Planet,” Communication Monographs, vol. 85, no.1, 2018, pp. 103-22.

de Onís, Catalina M. “Puerto Rican Energy Researchers Excluded from Islands Energy Transition Deliberations,” Latino Rebels, Oct. 16, 2017.

Santiago, Ruth, Hilda Lloréns, Carlos G. Garcia-Quijano, and Catalina M. de Onís. “Dispatch from the Frontlines of Puerto Rico in a Post-Maria World,” Latino Rebels, Oct. 9, 2017. de Onís, Catalina M., “For Many in Puerto Rico, ‘Energy Dominance’ is Just a New Name for US Colonialism,” The Conversation, Aug. 21, 2017.

de Onís, Catalina M., and Phaedra C. Pezzullo. “The Ethics of Embodied Engagement: Ethnographies of Environmental Justice.” The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice, editors Ryan Holifield, Jayajit Chakraborty, and Gordon Walker, Routledge, 2017, pp. 231-40.

de Onís, Catalina M. “What’s in an ‘x’?: An Exchange about the Politics of ‘Latinx.’” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol. 1, no. 2, 2017, pp. 78-91.

de Onís, Catalina M. “Critiquing Utopia, Ubiquity, and Pressure in Fossil Fuel(ed) Rhetoric,” Communication Theory, vol. 27, no. 4, 2017, pp. 409-10.

de Onís, Kathleen M. “‘Pa’ que tú lo sepas’: Experiences with Co-presence in Puerto Rico.” Text + Field: Innovations in Rhetorical Method, editors Sara McKinnon, Robert Asen, Karma Chávez, and Robert Howard, Penn State Press, 2016, pp. 101-16.

de Onís, Kathleen M. “Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century by Stephanie LeMenager,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs, vol. 20, no. 2, 2017, pp. 380-83.

de Onís, Kathleen M. “Lost in Translation: Challenging (White Monolingual Feminism’s) with Justicia Reproductiva,” Women’s Studies in Communication, vol. 38, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-19.

COMM 2082: Intro to Environmental Communication

COMM 4282: Environmental Communication

COMM 6710: Special Topics--Environmental Communication 

COMM 4710/ETST 4574: Special Topics--Latinx Communication Studies  

Expertise Areas: Rhetorical Studies; Environmental and Energy Communication; Environmental, Climate, and Energy Justice; Latina/o/x Communication Studies; Puerto Rican Studies; Ethnography