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, ethnicity, and borders, environmental and energy studies, gender, ethnographic methods, and instructional communication. She is an affiliated faculty member with the Latin American Studies and American Ethnic Studies programs and the Sustainability Institute. In collaboration with students, de Onís is working on several emergency communication and hazard response efforts, including creating a bilingual zine that suggests supplies for preparedness kits. She also is co-producing a documentary about solar energy and people power in Puerto Rico. The film, “Coquí Solar: El poder del pueblo,” is scheduled for release in late 2020.

As a teaching scholar, de Onís has instructed a variety of courses, including Public Speaking, 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 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 and other students, partnering with various on-campus groups and programs to welcome guest speakers, and previously hosting a weekly KMUZ community radio show. de Onís also is the faculty advisor for Alianza, WU Causa, and the Students Organizing for Access to Resources (SOAR) Center, home to the Bearcat Pantry, Clothing Share, and First-Gen Book Drive.


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

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 OnísCatalina M. “‘Es una lucha doble’: Articulating Environmental Nationalism in Puerto Rico.” Racial Ecologiesedited 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., 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 OnísKathleen 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 OnísKathleen M. “Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century by Stephanie LeMenager,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs, vol. 20, no. 2, 2017, pp. 380-83.

de OnísKathleen M. “Lost in Translation: Challenging (White Monolingual Feminism’s) <Choice> with Justicia Reproductiva,” Women’s Studies in Communication, vol. 38, no. 1, 2015, pp. 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 vol. 6, no. 3, 2012, pp. 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

2019 Mortar Board Professor of the Year.

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.

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.”

2015 Social Justice and Communication Grant, Waterhouse Family Institute.

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

Community Engagement

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