Melva Treviño Peña

  • Assistant Professor
  • Sustainable Agriculture/Food Systems
  • Phone: 401.874.4059
  • Email:
  • Office Location: Coastal Institute Building, Rm 221


A human geographer, Dr. Melva Treviño Peña’s broad research interests concern studying how different groups perceive natural environments, and specifically, identifying how social identity factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, class, etc., inform different groups’ experiences of the environment and environmental change. A central focus of her research is to identify how power asymmetries, specifically unequal access to resources, are produced in natural spaces, and the implications of this on the physical and discursive (re)constructions of nature and on the groups, who have strong attachments to these natural spaces.

For her doctoral research, she conducted fieldwork in coastal Ecuador, where she worked with ancestral mangrove users in southern Esmeraldas province. Her research analyzed the sociocultural and local economic impacts posed by the loss of access to mangrove spaces resulting from the deforestation of mangrove forests driven by shrimp aquaculture development. More recently, upon starting her appointment at URI, she began working on a new research project in 2019 investigating fishing practices and behaviors and uses of coastal spaces by communities of color in Rhode Island.



  • Ph.D. in Geography, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University
  • M.S. in Geography, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
  • B.A. in International Affairs and Minor in French, University of Nevada, Reno