Faculty Friday: Brian Dowd-Uribe

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

Brian Dowd-Uribe is an Assistant Professor in the International Studies Department. Brian grew in up in Sonoma County, California and decided to change scenery and head to UC San Diego, where he earned undergraduate degrees in Latin American Studies and Ecology, Behavior and Evolution.

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As an undergraduate, Brian studied abroad twice to Costa Rica where he completed a senior thesis on different approaches to native forest regeneration in Monteverde, and got a crash course in salsa dancing. After leaving Costa Rica, he served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small Kabiye village in northern Togo. While there he worked on multiple projects with local women’s cooperatives on soil fertility, income generation and fuelwood efficiency; he also took up a strong interest in locally brewed sorghum beer. Both the experiences in Costa Rica and West Africa led to a strong interest in rural livelihoods and how rural development intersects with the environment.

After a short two-year stint as a park ranger in South Los Angeles, Brian took up his graduate studies at UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies, where he earned his PhD in 2011. His dissertation explores the winners and losers of two of the most defining interventions affecting small-scale farmers in West Africa, the liberalization of agricultural commodity chains and the introduction of genetically modified crops. While conducting his dissertation research in Burkina Faso, he met his future wife, Kim, salsa dancing. Later, they lived together in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, and then traveled to Southeast Asia for several months where Brian wrote most of his dissertation.

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After graduating, and marrying, Brian took a position as a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. There he worked on two projects, one exploring the social and environmental dimensions of community gardens in East Harlem, and the other examining the linkages between participatory water governance, water security and food security in rural Burkina Faso. Brian continues to work on and publish from both projects. Before joining USF, Brian took a position at the UN-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica, where he most recently served as Chair of the Department of Environment and Development. Brian’s work has been published in multiple academic journals and was recently featured by the BBC. A new edited book project examining Costa Rica’s attempt to negotiate environmental protection and development is under review at the University of Arizona Press.

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While not grading papers or writing articles, Brian changes the diapers of his 5-month old son Benjamin, and plays trains and baseball with his 3.5-year-old son Tomás. He has a strong interest in everything outdoors – camping, hiking, etc. He also tries to keep up on a regular running regime, and periodically plays soccer for a ‘grown up’ team. Brian and his wife can often be spotted at a local café, sipping on coffee, and plotting their next international adventure.

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