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Castillo de la Real Fuerza, Havana

Cuba Week Fall 2019


  • Joseph P. Messina received his Ph. D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel hill in Geography. He became a Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama in 2019. His research emphases are on Population-Environment Interactions, Medical Geography, Geographic Information Science, Remote Sensing, Spatial Analyses, and Land Change Science. More specifically, he was researched the integration of people, spaces, and the environment through the lens of dynamic models and complex systems. Field research activities have taken place in Malawi, Kenya, Mali, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Ecuador and Colombia, the health and disease research has focused on malaria and African Trypanosomiasis in East Africa. Health care delivery has focused on the access to care in Michigan and China, and the landscape pattern metrics, error and uncertainty, dynamic spatial simulation models, complex systems research.
  • Robert F. Olin, received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Indiana University in 1975. Professor and former Dean in College of Arts and Sciences (2000-2019). He oversaw the financial and educational management of the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in Alabama. The size of the tenure-track faculty has nearly doubled under his leadership. As dean, he also implemented several technological innovations into the curriculum in several departments. He raised over 100 million dollars in gifts to the College during his nineteen years. A significant focus as Dean was to increase the minority representation of the faculty in the College. It did increase by over 300%. Dr. Olin created, implemented and maintained the Alabama-Cuba Initiative at The University of Alabama which has evolved into the Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship. He has continued to pursue and identify opportunities for our faculty at UA to increase research and creativity opportunities with our colleagues at University of La Havana.
  • Robert Palazzo received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. After conducting four years of post-doctorate research at the University of Virginia’s biology department, he received appointment as scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He currently serves as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Palazzo is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Scientific American Magazine and is chair of the Board of Directors for The Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America (ASTRA). He served as the President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which currently represents 26 basic biomedical research societies and more than 100,000 scientists. Palazzo served as Chair of the Science Advisory Council and as ex officio member of the Board of Trustees for the Marine Biological Laboratory.
  • Lisa Pawloski, Associate Dean for International Programs and Professor, Department of Anthropology, The University of Alabama (2017-present). Dr. Pawloski is an expert in childhood obesity and biocultural aspects of health and nutrition among children, adolescents, and young adults. As a Fulbright Scholar in 1997, she examined the nutritional status of adolescent girls from the Segou Region in Mali, West Africa to explore factors impacting malnutrition in that region. Her current interests involve exploring the biocultural, geographic, and social determinants of obesity in transitional countries. Dr. Pawloski has m worked and conducted research in Thailand, Iraq, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Chile, and Paris, France. Along with researcher from the Capstone College of Nursing and the College of Community Health Sciences, She is currently examining how to adopt and adapt the Cuban maternity model in rural Alabama.
  • Juan M. Lopez-Bautista, Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of Cuba Center, Professor at the University of Alabama (2003-Present). As Director of the Cuba Center at The University of Alabama Dr. Lopez is interested in continuing developing research collaborations, performances, and exhibitions between his faculty at The University of Alabama and his colleagues at The University of La Havana. As a professor of Biology, Dr. Lopez is interested in continuing his collaboration with the Centro de Investigaciones Marinas and the researchers Patricia Gonzalez Diaz, Ana Maria Suarez and Beatriz Martinez Daranas with his current project on Marine Algae from Cuba.
  • Michael Schnepf received his Ph. D. from Indiana University in Spanish with a minor in English. He is an Emeritus Professor of Spanish and Codirector for the Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship at The University of Alabama. His research interests focus on “A Detailed Study of the Complete Manuscript and the Unseen Sketches of Galdós’s La desheredada”, “The deliveries of the first edition of La desheredada: divisions, dates, and strategies”, and “Drawings and Sketches by Galdós from all the Original Manuscripts Housed in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid”. He has come up with fascinating drawings that deal with politics, politicians, and architecture. His most recent publications include, the “Scandal and La Cárcel Modelo: Intertextual ‘Bouncing’ in Galdós’s La desheredada.” Romance Quarterly 49 (2002): 36-49, the “Background Information for Two Political References in Clarín’s La Regenta.” Romance Notes 41 (2001): 319-324, and the “X-rated Galdós: Manuscript Nudes.” Galdosianos Annals 37 (2002): 137-140. 
  • John C. Abbott, Director, Museum Research and Collections & Chief Curator, The University of Alabama Museums (2016-present). Dr. Abbott is collaborating with entomologists at the National Natural History Museum (in Old Havana), The University of Havana and their natural history museum (Museo de Historia Natural Felipe Poey), and the Jones Archaeology Museum. With the colleague Adrian Trapero-Quintana he is working on a project on Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) at the University of Havana. Dr. Abbott participated at the Colegio Universitario San Geronimo, part of a heritage preservation/museology program (, in an international conference on heritage preservation.
  • Kendra Abbott, Research Technician at Museum Research and Collections, The University of Alabama (2019-present). Kendra is untangling cryptic odonate species occurring in the genus Erythemis. She has spent time connecting with folks in the entomology collection, such as Adrian Trapero-Quintana, who is in the Biology Department at the University of Havana and an Odonata specialist. She has visited the museums (National Natural History Museum in Old Havana and Museo de Historia Natural Felipe Poey), and connected with folks in a genetics lab at The University of La Havana to start a collaboration on the genetics of Erythemis in Cuba. 
  • Kevin M. Curtin, Kevin M. Curtin is Professor of Geography and Director of the Laboratory for Location Science at the University of Alabama. Dr. Curtin received his PhD in Geography from the University of California – Santa Barbara, with a dual focus on GIS and optimal facilities location. He performs primary research in the field of Geographic Information Science with specializations in location science, transportation and logistics, spatial movement behavior, spatial statistics, and network GIS. Application areas for his research include autonomous vehicle logistics, transportation geography, crime studies, health and nutrition, and geospatial intelligence. He teaches extensively at both the undergraduate and graduate university levels, and has served on over 130 thesis and dissertation committees. Funding from the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and the Army Research Institute is supporting students and faculty associated with his research laboratory.
  • Marcello Minzoni, Assistant Professor in Geology Department. Minzoni’s research revolves marine and non-marine sedimentary basins, the deposition land diagenetic evolution of carbonate systems and mixed carbonate-clastic systems, and the development of quantitative models and workflows to identify and characterize these systems from 2D and 3D seismic data. Much of his research focuses on unraveling and quantifying the various mechanisms that impact the occurrence, evolution, and demise of carbonate platforms and reefs and the application of conceptual models to the exploration for hydrocarbon reservoirs. During his trip to Cuba, Minzoni has worked with Jesus Pajon (Paleontological Museum of La Havana), Patricia Gonzalez and Adrian Martinez-Suarez from the Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, University of La Havana)
  • Sarah Tamsen Moody, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Classics (2016-present), Director of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies program (2018-present). At Cuba, Dr. Moody’s research is centered on a collaborative book project titled Heroicidades Latinoamericanas: el lugar de las utopías del siglo XIX hasta nuestros días. Beyond Heroicidades Latinoamericanas, she has also developed a new interest in nineteenth-century archives related to slavery on the island. Dr. Moody met with her long-term collaborator, Dr. Astrid Santana Fernández de Castro (Universidad de La Habana). She also advanced those conversations with the editor, Dr. José Antonio Baujin.
  • Katrina Maria Ramonell, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama. Ramonell established a collaboration with the Plant Biology group within the Department of Biology at the University de la Havana to study natural defense pathways in plants that might be exploited to improve crop yield. During the week in Cuba, she met with Drs. Leneidys Perez Pelea(Plant Biotechnology), Dr. Eduardo Ortega Delgado (Plant Physiology) and Dr. Vincente Berovides Alvarez (Plant Genetics and Ecology) to identify areas of collaborative research between their labs and her lab at UA that is focused on studying plant defense pathways using molecular and genomic techniques.
  • Lucas Allen Nibert, MS Graduate Student in Geology, University of Alabama, Graduate Teaching Assistant (2018-Present). Lucas is currently a graduate student at The University of Alabama in the program of Geology. With his advisor, Dr. Marcello Minzoni, Lucas has been collaborating with members of the University of La Havana and developing a collaboration with Cuban colleagues in the area of geology and explore the possibility to, in the near future, take courses at The University of La Havana.