Core Staff and Faculty
Director Merle Collins is the Director of LASC. She is a professor in the Department of English and a 2018 UMD Distinguished Scholar-Teacher. Dr. Collins has a B.A., English and Spanish from the Mona, Jamaica campus of the University of the West Indies, an M.A. in Latin American Studies and Certificate in Spanish to English Translation, from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in Government (with a focus on Grenada) from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Also a creative writer, Collins is the author of novels, collections of poetry, short story collections, and several critical essays on Caribbean literature and Grenadian culture and politics. Her most recent essay, “Cultural Expression and the Grenada Revolution,” was published in an edited collection, Perspectives on the Grenada Revolution, 1979 ‐1983. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017.
Assistant Director Eric Tomalá joined LASC in January 2017. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Business and a Master of Arts in Sociology. Eric’s academic interest is the political economy of food production.
Lisa W. Carney is a Postdoctoral Associate for the Latin American Studies Center, as well as the coordinator of the Dissertation Success Program for the Graduate School Writing Center. She received her Ph.D. in May 2020 from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Maryland, where she specialized in indigenous cultural production, contemporary Latin American literature and Quechua language narrative from the Andes and Amazon region. Her dissertation, “By the Authority of Dreams: Truth and Knowledge in Kichwa Muskuy Narratives” examined how verbal artistry and linguistic elements contribute to credibility and authoritative knowledge in Kichwa-speaking communities of the Ecuadorian tropical forest.
Graduate Assistant Víctor Hernández Sang is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology in the School of Music. His doctoral project examines the performance of gagá (Haitian-Dominican music and dance) and issues of race, immigration, and racial discrimination in the Dominican Republic. At the University of Maryland, he also completed his MA with a thesis focused on the performance of palos music in fiestas de misterios in the Dominican Republic. Before coming to UMD, he received his BA from Luther College, Decorah, IA in music (flute performance) and taught flute, ear training, and English in his hometown, Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Office Assistant Cindy Morales is currently a sophomore at the University Of Maryland. She is majoring in Communications with a minor in entrepreneurship. She is from Guatemala and is passionate about expanding her knowledge about Latin America with others. Cindy’s interests include: photography, blogging, music, and Latin America of course!