Maria Alejandra



Postdoctoral Fellow



Profile summary

  • Agricultural development
  • Latin American
  • Community engagement
  • Gender equality and Feminist Political Ecology
  • Hydroelectric dams and social justice

Garcia studies the role of social-networks in the adoption of sustainable practices among coffee farmers in Colombia

Garcia works in the NetAdopt project with Dr. Angela Guerrero and Dr. Juan Rocha. The main objective of this project is to understand the role and effect of social-networks in the adoption of sustainable practices among coffee farmers in Colombia. By using qualitative methods, such as interviews with farmers and other actors in the system (agricultural exensionist), Garcia identifies the stakeholders involve in the proces of adoption of sustainable pratices among coffee farmers, and how social-networks are use in the adoption process. Quantitatively, she analyses the effects of social-networks in the adoption of such practices, as well other potential associates. To conduct the project, Garcia collaborates with local organizations working with coffee farmers in Colombia.

Garcia holds a Doctorate in Community Sustainability at Michigan State University with two graduate specializations. One in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and the other on Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change. In her doctoral studies, Garcia studied two topics related to social justice and rural development in Latin America. The first topic was her dissertation on gender, power, and gender norms transformation amid rural development in Colombia and Honduras. The second topic was part of her research assitantship on the social justice dimensions in the construction of large-scale hydroelectric dam construction in Brazil.

She also holds a master's and bachelor's in Sociology from Universidad del Valle in Colombia. Before starting her doctorate, Garcia worked in the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as a research assistant for gender, agriculture, and climate change in Colombia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

She is thematic editor of the journal Ciencias y Technologia Agropecuaria of Agrosavia, Colombia, since 2018.

Awards and achievements

  • Outreach and Community Engagement Award. Michigan State University. 2023. This award was due to the collaboration with a local organization in the research project on rural women’s empowerment and gender norms transformation in Colombia (a chapter of the dissertation).
  • Colciencias-Fulbright Scholarship. Laspau-administered scholarship to pursue a doctoral degree in the U.S., 2018-2022.



García, M.A., Mayer, A., Cavallini-Johansen, I., Lopez, M.C., and Moran, E. 2024 Spatial injustice to energy access in the shadow of hydropower in Brazil. World Development, 178.

Castro-Diaz, L., García, M. A., Villamayor-Tomas, S., and Lopez, M. C. (2023). Impacts on Locals’ Livelihoods of Hydropower Development in the Global South. World Development, 169.

García, M.A., Castro-Díaz, L., Villamayor-Tomas, S., and Lopez, M.C. 2021. Are Large-scale Hydroelectric Dams Inherently Undemocratic? Global Environmental Change, 71:1-14.

Twyman J., Muriel J., and García, M.A. 2015. Identifying Women Farmers: Informal Gender Norms as Institutional Barriers to Recognizing Women´s Contributions to Agriculture. Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security, 1 (2): 1-17.