Catalina M. de Onís

Assistant Professor

Catalina M. de Onís is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civic Communication and Media at Willamette University. Her research and teaching engage Latina/o/x studies, de/coloniality, race, environmental and energy studies, gender, and fieldwork. She is an affiliated faculty member with the Latin American Studies program and the Sustainability Institute. During the summer of 2018, she contributed to a Liberal Arts Research Collaborative studying Lyme Disease discourses, health care experiences, and impacts on forestry and farmworkers. Currently, in collaboration with students, de Onís is documenting the City of Salem's public communication regarding Detroit Lake's cyanotoxins, as well as the in/effectiveness of news media reporting, and how Latina/o/x community members experienced this water contamination situation.

As a teaching scholar, de Onís has instructed a variety of courses, including first-year seminars, Public Oral Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Communicating Sustainability, Analyzing Public Discourse, Media and the Environment, Latina/o/x Communication Studies, and College Colloquium. She also is excited to be working with several undergraduate collaborators on an environmental justice communication project: La Chispa de Salem/The Salem Spark, which seeks to spark and support environmental justice conversations and collaborations at Willamette University and in the surrounding Willamette Valley. This largely student-led, multidisciplinary coalition is committed to uncovering and uprooting environmental racism, addressing the inequities of environmental privilege, and advocating for environmental, climate, and energy justice. La Chispa members enact communication praxis by developing workshops with Willamette Academy students, coordinating the Students Organizing for Access to Resources (SOAR) Center, partnering with various on-campus groups and programs to welcome guest speakers, and hosting a weekly KMUZ community radio showLa Chispa receives financial support from Willamette University's Green Fund Grant program. 


Latina/o/x Communication Studies class members and La Chispa collaborators welcome poet Willy Palomo during his March 2018 campus visit.
Video by CCTV’s Luis Mendoza.

Professor Catalina de Onís presents her energy colonialism research at the University of Utah's Energy Democracy Symposium in July 2017. 

Selected Publications

de OnísCatalina M., “Reproductive Justice as Environmental Justice: Contexts, Coalitions, and Cautions,” in Routledge Motherhood Companion, eds. Lynn O’Brien Hallstein & Karen Healy, forthcoming. 

de Onís, Catalina M., "Fueling and Delinking from Energy Coloniality in Puerto Rico,” Journal of Applied Communication Research, forthcoming.

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

de Onís, Catalina M. “Energy Colonialism Powers the Ongoing Unnatural Disaster in Puerto Rico, Frontiers in Communication, Special issue: Energy democracy, 3 (2018): 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 85.1 (2018): 103-22.

de Onís, Catalina M., and Phaedra C. Pezzullo, “The Ethics of Embodied Engagement: Ethnographies of Environmental Justice,” in Handbook of Environmental Justice, eds. Ryan Holifield, Jayajit Chakraborty, and Gordon Walker. (London: Routledge, 2017).

de Onís, Catalina M., “What’s in an ‘x’?: An Exchange about the Politics of ‘Latinx.’” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures 1.2 (2017): 78-91.

de Onís, Catalina M., “Critiquing Utopia, Ubiquity, and Pressure in Fossil Fuel(ed) Rhetoric,” Communication Theory 27.4 (2017): 409-10.

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

de Onís, Kathleen M., “Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century by Stephanie LeMenager,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 20.2 (2017): 380-83.

de Onís, Kathleen M., “Lost in Translation: Challenging (White Monolingual Feminism’s) <Choice> with Justicia Reproductiva,” Women’s Studies in Communication 38.1 (2015): 1-19.

de Onís, Kathleen M., “‘Looking Both Ways’: Metaphor and the Rhetorical Alignment of Intersectional Climate Justice and Reproductive Justice Concerns,” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture 6.3 (2012): 308-27.

News Articles

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.

Selected Awards and Honors

2018 Learning by Creating Mellon Grant for “Transgressing Words, Transforming Worlds: Poet Willy Palomo Visits WU.”

2018 Liberal Arts Research Collaborative Award for mentoring student Lyme disease studies.

2018 National Residence Hall Honorary Award for teaching excellence, Willamette University.

2017 and 2018 Green Fund Grants.

2017 Dissertation Award, NCA Environmental Communication Division, Energy Remix: Decolonial Discourses of Decarbonization.

2016 Feminist Scholar of the Year Award, Organization for Research on Women & Communication, “Lost in Translation: Challenging (White Monolingual Feminism’s) <Choice> with Justicia Reproductiva.”

2014 Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award, “Toxic Coloniality: Extracting Natural Gas Advocacy Rhetoric and Resisting its Appeals.”

2015 Social Justice and Communication Grant from the Waterhouse Family Institute.

Community Engagement

Latino Engagement Committee Member, Naturaleza Ahora!, Straub Environmental Center, Salem, OR.

Member, Oregon in Solidarity with Puerto Rico, Salem, OR.

Collaborator, El Comité Diálogo Ambiental and La Iniciativa de Eco-Desarrollo de Bahía de Jobos (IDEBAJO), Salinas, PR.


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