Paulette Vincent-Ruz, Ph.D. (she/ella)
“To survive the Borderlands you must live sin fronteras be a crossroads.”
― Gloria Anzaldua
I am a Postdoctoral Associate in Chemistry Education at the University of Michigan (Potowatomi Land). I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Mexica Land) and obtained my Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Policy from the University of Pittsburgh (Monongahela Land). Thanks to my unique combination of Chemistry disciplinary knowledge and Educational I became the first chemistry education researcher named a Future Leader in Chemistry in the year 2019 by CAS.
My research perspective is informed by my background: I identify as a Queer Latinx cis-woman of color. I was born and raised a settler colonialist on the rightful lands of the Mexica Tribes. I acknowledge that they, and other indigenous peoples of the south, are the first and rightful inhabitants of the lands and waters that are now called Mexico. English is my second language, and I have an accent when I speak English. I acknowledge that as an immigrant in what is called the United States, I participate in the historical and ongoing colonization that has devastated many Indigenous communities in what amounts to genocide. I acknowledge that settlers like myself are responsible, individually and as a group, for the violence and oppression Indigenous people have suffered and continue to suffer. All these components of my identity shape my way of collecting, representing, and understanding data from marginalized students. Following Dr. Max Liboiron and the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) lab’s example, I strive to do research where every moment in my research life exemplifies my values and commitments around Equity, Justice, and Humanization (Kinloch & Dixon, 2018).
I commit to creating studies and learning environments that challenge traditional notions of learning and provide students with the tools to negotiate the contradictions of their marginalized identities and hegemonic STEM expectations. Against this backdrop, learning in Chemistry must be positioned as a fugitive act from the status quo, expectations of colleges, disciplines, and centering of achievement gaps.
In terms of justice, we need to examine oppressive systems and strive for systemic change. That means immediate amelioration of the ways in which we hurt marginalized groups, must be accompanied by an examination of power relations and their abolishment. This starts with a reflection and acknowledgment of, but not limited to, the following four facts. First, any scientific endeavor of today is built over the foundations of scientific colonialism. Second, accepted practices and knowledge are designed for those who conform to eurocentric ways of knowing. Third, the centering of women in STEM omits the intersectional experiences of BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color) and erases trans and non-binary identities. Finally, science is fundamentally heteropatriarchal, white supremacist, transphobic, and ableist.
Humanization requires us to fight for the dignity of marginalized students and to value their lived experiences and cultural knowledge. Marginalized students often internalize the oppression they suffer through self-hate, impostor syndrome, and assimilation. What we want is to engage in humanization process to teach students knowledge, self-love, solidarity, and to value their funds of knowledge.