Alberto E. Morales
Ethnographer | Researcher | Educator
Hello! I am Alberto. I work at the intersections of Environmental Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, and Science and Technology Studies. For quick access to my CV, Research, Teaching, and Papers, click the tabs above. To learn more about my research through images I took while doing fieldwork, click on the photos in the gallery strip below.
Dr. Alberto Morales is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Studies & Modern Languages at Drexel University. Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate & Lecturer in the Program for Latin American Studies (PLAS) and Department of Anthropology at Princeton University.
Alberto earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology with dual emphases in Latin American and Chicano/Latino Studies from the University of California, Irvine, where he was a Newkirk Center for Science and Society fellow. Alberto is experienced in qualitative methods and research design, specializing in multispecies ethnography. His research and teaching examine the politics of absence, hope, and biodiversity in environmental and biomedical knowledge production across transnational epistemic communities.
For his first book, Alberto conducted ethnographic research with biodiversity advocates, biotech laboratory scientists, and science policy officials in Panamá, where investments in technology, innovation, and "natural products" research are invoked as sustainable forms of national development, environmental stewardship, and global health governance. His study has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, Princeton University's Council on Science and Technology, and the School of Social Science Associate Dean's Office at UC Irvine.
Current Research Projects:
Biodiversity, Bioeconomy, Capacity Building,
Biomedicine, Microbial Relations, Global and Multispecies Health,
Chicanx/Latinx Critical Pedagogies,
Multimodality, Sound Studies
Alberto's research interests lie at the intersections of biodiversity, biotech sciences, ethnic studies, global health equity, and the geopolitics of knowledge production. He has developed ethnographic work on multispecies care and collaboration, social movements of science, and technocratic practices of repurposing international science, technology, and innovation policy experiments. His regional interests include Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States.
Alberto has an ongoing project about Latinas/os/x students in STEM and higher education in the USA. Drawing from the work of critical, transformative, and caring pedagogies, Alberto examines how scholars and educators continue to build spaces of hope, healing, affirmation, and social change for diverse and underrepresented minority students.
Book Project: Designs on Natureculture: Esperanza, Multispecies Collaboration, and Planetary Health Politics
Based on long-term multi-sited research, Designs on Natureculture traces biodiversity experiments and practices of world-making that drive new imaginings and becomings of planetary health. Theoretically, my manuscript is concerned with figurations of life and esperanza (not quite hope, not quite an aspiration, something more akin to an imaginative expectation or foresight, and the accompanying political and affective attachments) that oscillate between the molecular, the microbiotic, the species, the nation-state, and the global scales. Ethnographically, I focus on Latin American scientists’ political strategies to redress neglected, systemic health issues, poverty, environmental ruination, and scientific knowledge production through multispecies experiments on biodiversity. My manuscript contributes an anthropological analysis of contemporary ecological and science politics in Latin America, focusing on the structural dynamics that create access to and exclusion from resources, including knowledge.
n.d. Morales, Alberto. “Frog Songs: Microbial Entanglements in the Symbiopolitics of Multispecies Care” in American Anthropologist (Revise and Resubmit).
2022 Esquivel-Sada, Daphne and Nathalia Vidal-Hernandez, and Alberto Eduardo Morales. “Dissonant Temporalities of Care: Survivability in Evolution, Seed Saving, and Natural Products Research” in Temporalities of Care in Conservation Environments Zine, edited by Markus Rudolfi, Emilie Köhler, Naomi Hammett, Franziska Dahlmeier, and Marleen Boschen. Center for Science Studies, Lancaster University.
2022 Enriquez, Laura E. and Alberto Eduardo Morales, Victoria E. Rodriguez, Karina Chavarria, and Annie Ro. “Mental Health and COVID-19 Pandemic Stressors among Latina/o/x College Students with Varying Self and Parental Immigration Status” in Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.
2021 Morales, Alberto Eduardo and Kalindi Vora. "Writing Life No.15: An Interview with Kalindi Vora” in Somatosphere, edited by Anna Harris and Danielle Elliott.
2021 Casavantes Bradford, Anita and Alberto Eduardo Morales. “Toward a Critical Latinx Pedagogy: A Multi-generational Reflection on Teaching and Learning in a U.S. Latinx History Survey and Beyond” in Journal of Latinos and Education.
2019 Morales, Alberto Eduardo. Unfinished Prospects: Microbes and Collaborative Networks in Panama’s City of Knowledge. University of California, Irvine.
My commitment to transformative pedagogies and decolonial science methodologies shape my research, teaching, mentoring, and scholarship. Recently, I introduced a new and well-received course entitled Multispecies Worlding and Global Health Policies at Princeton University. This innovative and interdisciplinary course prepared students to engage and address contemporary debates in the humanities, the biological and environmental sciences, and the social and behavioral sciences while equipping them to pursue unique lines of inquiry. Through semester-long, guided design projects, students produced artifacts (take a look) to analyze and respond to the politics of health, environment, and multispecies relations. Students examined the ongoing effects of ecological and environmental changes while exploring possible futures through structured in-class design activities and other forms of experiential learning. I received support to develop co-curricular activities through a faculty grant sponsored by the Council on Science and Technology at Princeton University.
I am a multiple recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award from the School of Social Sciences and
the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
During the 2020-2021 academic year, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies and the Program for Medical Education in the Latino Community at the School of Medicine at UC Irvine. At UCI, I taught classes on medical anthropology, global health, research methods and design, upper-division writing, Research in the Latino Community, Latinx and Latin American identities, policy, and social justice movements. During the 2019-2020 academic year, I was also a recipient of a University of California-wide award to participate in the year-long, cross-disciplinary workshop titled Humanities Careers in Science History, Policy, and Communication, where I gained training in digital programming and developing public-facing pedagogy and community resources (take a look at undergraduate students' multimedia work here).
"Throughout this quarter you have been so compassionate in understanding the stressful situation we are all under. I have already filled out the evaluation forms, but I wanted to personally email you and thank you for this amazing course. You have gotten me to think completely differently than I've would before and in this time of injustice, I thank you. Your teachings will definitely live through me!"
"I thank you for teaching all of us. I think it is very important for the Latinx community to learn our own history especially during this time when these protests for our black brothers and sisters are happening. I’ve been sharing what I’ve learned from your class with my own immigrant parents and grandparents to enrich their knowledge and help them better understand why younger generations are so passionate and driven to make change for people of color. Thank you."
"I just wanted to express my gratitude for this course and you as a professor. I am half Mexican and half Korean and I tend to feel like I get overlooked as being Mexican or I feel as if people don't view me as Mexican enough. With your help, I was able to take more pride and be less afraid of people assuming my ethnic/racial background. I am proud to be both Mexican and Korean and even more proud to show it."
I have been experimenting with multimodal ethnographic work to push the possibilities of transmedia and epistemic modes of engagement. While doing fieldwork, I became involved in Ciencia en Panama, an advocacy and activist organization that describes itself as “friends of science.” At the height of the global march for science, I produced a photo-essay about this organization and its work to promote this movement and science policy in Panama. This photo-essay, published on the Platform for Ethnographic and Collaborative Ethnography, feeds into my research on analyzing socio-material assemblages, human capacity building, ecological and biomedical concepts, and the trafficking of ideas and values of technoscience. In future multimodal work, I explore sound, sympoeisis, and multispecies attunements in scientific knowledge production.
Professional Papers and Activities (Selected)
2023 “More-than-Human Microbial Landsacapes,” Presentation for the panel entitled “Reimaginando Desafios Planetários a partir de Paisagens Mais que Humanas” [Reimagining Planetary Challenges through More-than-human Landscapes,” at the XIV Mercosul Anthropology Meeting, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niteroi – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
2023 “Global Pathogens and the Promise of Multispecies Care,” Virtual Presentation for the “Epizootic Beyond the Farm: Historical and Ethnographic Approaches,” University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
2022 “Interspecies and Microbiotic Relations in Biomedical Value and Knowledge Production,” Paper for the Microbes: Thinking Past Dualisms Panel at the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology, Madrid, Spain.
2022 “Just Meme it! Memes as Social Media Artifacts and Modes of Cultural Critique,” Virtual Paper for the Latin American Studies Association Conference, San Francisco, California.
2021 “Ant Gardens: Biodiversity/Biomedical Value and Forms of Mutualism for Global Health,” Paper for the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland.
2019. “The Economization of Panama’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Ecology,” Paper presented at the Changing Political Economy of Research and Innovation (CPERI) 7th Annual International Workshop, New Orleans, Louisiana.
2019. “Innovative Academic Infrastructures: Digitalization, Collaboration, and Experimentation,” Chair and Co-organizer for the Society for the Social Studies of Science Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana.
2019. “Financing Research in the City of Knowledge,” Paper presented at the Cultures and Spaces of Debt and Finance Conference, Tucson, Tohono O’odhon Lands, Arizona.
Invited Talks (Selected)
2023 “Multispecies Experiments and Global Health Disparities: The Politics of Knowledge Production in Panamá,” Presentation for the Center for Migration and Development Colloquium Series, Princeton University, New Jersey.
2023 “Ant Gardens, Multispecies Relations and Global Health Inequalities,” Virtua Presentation and Discussion for the Political Animals Course, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.
2022 “Frog Songs: Global Pathogens, Sound as Method, Redesigns of Life,” Virtual Presentation for the Humanimalab and Planthropolab’s Series entitled Biodiversity Conservation, Knowledge Practices, and Emancipatory Openings in Latin America, University of Ottawa, Canada.
2021 “Remote Learning and the Gradual Transition to In-person Learning in Higher Education,” Co-discussant, Virtual roundtable for the Department of Academic Programs, National Secretary of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Panama City, Panamá.
2019. “Towards the Knowledge Economy: Politics of Science, Technology, and Innovation,” Keynote panelist at the History of Science and Education Colloquium of Historiographers, Tlalpujahua, Michoacán, Mexico
2019. “The Politics of Central American Migration and Movement,” Panel moderator and Discussant at the XXV Congreso Annual de Mexicanistas Juan Bruce-Novoa, Irvine, California.
2018. “Scientific Mobility in Knowledge Economies: China and Panama,” Paper presented at the 17th National Congress of Science and Technology, Panamà City, Panamà.
2017. “Latinx/Chicanx/Hispanic Identities: Who am I? What’s in a Label?” Panelist for the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies, Undergraduate Certificate Program. University of California, Irvine.