Dr. Baptista earned a Ph.D. in performance studies from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in liberal studies from Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist whose work focuses on how Diaspora communities maintain important social relationships through cultural traditions — most notably food. Her most recent research is an ethnographic study of Chicago’s Roseland community.
Dr. Baptista’s diverse career features more than 15 years of experience with research, development, and participation in cultural programs and initiatives that convene artists, civic leaders, students, faculty and staff, cultural institutions, and grassroots organizations to address social concerns. Prior to coming to UIC in the Fall of 2011, Dr. Baptista served as urban anthropology manager in the Field Museum’s division of environment, culture, and conservation. There she led efforts to engage members of Chicago’s diverse communities in climate action projects that emphasized quality of life issues, healthy living, food and heritage practices, and engagements with nature.
In addition, she has served as a mentor for diverse college student populations and has taught film, literature, and performance-based courses at the collegiate level and developed course materials for public school teachers and community educators.