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Headshot of Caela O'Connell

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UNC-CH
Assistant Professor, Environment, Ecology, and Energy Program, UNC-CH

Caela O’Connell is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Environment, Ecology, and Energy Program at UNC. She also runs the Socio-Ecological Change Research Lab (SECR) where she works with both undergraduate and graduate students on environmental learning, food systems resilience, and coastal resilience in North Carolina. She a co-founder of the Culture and Disaster Action Network (CADAN).

As an environmental anthropologist, her research examines human-environment relationships and how they change over time. She is interested in socio-ecological interdependencies which include risk; crisis; water, economics, disaster, and engagement; interdisciplinary and mixed research methodologies; food and agricultural studies; rural and agrarian communities; the Caribbean and the Americas. Her current projects include a multi-sited study of banana farmers, mycology, and climate change in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Australia; and disaster recovery in the United States and internationally.

With funding from a Center for Galapagos Studies Seed Grant, Dr. O’Connell launched a project in the archipelago collecting human and environmental data to identify food, water, and agricultural challenges with research needs in the Galapagos. The goal of this research is to assess the feasibility of the Galapagos and coastal adjacent regions as a site for complex communities of culture and disease impacting banana farmers or a proxy agricultural crop, and to assess issues of climate adaptation, food and water insecurity, and inequality in Galapagos in parallel with her ongoing studies on Ocracoke Island, NC.

Learn more about Dr. O’Connell’s work on her personal website.

Research Projects

Agri(cultures) of Disease and Climate Adaptation in the Galapagos