Instructors & Staff


Laurie N. Taylor

is Chair of the Digital Partnerships & Strategies Department in UF’s Libraries. She provides leadership for digital partnerships between the Libraries and partners across the university, regionally, nationally, and internationally. She works closely with library colleagues to create and sustain supports for collaborations for building collections, community, and capacity, including for the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) and LibraryPress@UF. Her work is geared towards enabling a culture of radical collaboration that values and supports diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Website | Twitter: @laurien

Dr. Hélène Huet

is the European Studies Librarian at UF. She is the Chair of the Florida Digital Humanities Consortium(FLDH), a collective of institutions in Florida that seeks to promote an understanding of the humanities in light of digital technologies and research. She was recently elected on the Executive Council of Association internationale francophone des bibliothécaires et documentalistes (AIFBD) (The International Association of Francophone Librarians). She has published her work on Digital Humanities in several books chapters as well as in Digital Humanities Quarterly. She is the creator of two digital projects: The WWI Diary of Albert Huet, and Mapping Decadence. You can find her on Twitter, @superHH.

Paul Ortiz

is a first-generation college graduate. He is the director of the award-winning Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and associate professor of history at the University of Florida. Under his leadership, the Proctor Program has become one of the leading university-based social justice research centers in the country garnering three national academic awards in as many years. Paul was the president of the Oral History Association during the 2014-15 term and has served the OHA in many different capacities. Paul’s is the author of Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, and co-editor of Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South which went into its 4th printing in 2015. He is the recipient of numerous book awards including the Lillian Smith Book Prize awarded by the Southern Regional Council and the Harry T. and Harriett V. Moore Book Prize. His most recent book is An African American and LatinX History of the United States.

Leah Rosenberg

is associate professor of English at the University of Florida. She is the author ofNationalism and the Formation of Caribbean Literature and co-editor with J. Dillon Brown of Beyond Windrush: Rethinking Postwar West Indian Literature. She is co-chair of the dLOC advisory board.​

Institute Faculty

Miguel Asencio

is the Director of Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) at Florida International University (FIU). He oversees a cooperative of more than 75 partners within the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean which provides users with access to Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials held in archives, libraries, and private collections which has received over 200 million views since 2006 ( In 2011, he proposed the creation of a collaborative digitization lab at FIU, which was supported by grants and institutional awards in excess of $1 million in funding. He has an MS in Curriculum and Instruction: Learning Technologies from Florida International University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies with an interest in digital resources and accessibility for education research using information and communications technology. Miguel is a frequent speaker on topics related to international collaborative projects, partnership development, community engagement, capacity building, digitization of archival and research materials, digital projects, workflow management, classroom technology implementation, collaborative digital resources platforms, and digital imaging quality control assessments and standards implementations.

Perry Collins

is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Florida. In this role, she collaborates with faculty, staff, and students to navigate copyright in research and teaching, including rights issues in digital humanities and digital collections. Perry also co-leads the Libraries’ efforts to promote affordable access to course materials and is enthusiastic about the potential for digital and open pedagogies to enhance student learning while also reducing course costs. Before coming to UF, Perry directed the scholarly communications program at Ball State University in Indiana and worked for six years as a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities.

Sharon Wright Austin, PhD

is Director of the African American Studies Program and Associate Professor of Political Science at UF. Her most recent book is, The Caribbeanization of Black Politics: Race, Group Consciousness, and Political Participation in America (SUNY 2018).

Bess de Farber

serves as the University of Florida Libraries’ Grants Manager and held the same position at the University of Arizona Libraries. She has provided grantsmanship instruction to hundreds of library staff, nonprofit and academic professionals, artists, and university students in the past 30 years, and has led efforts to secure millions in grant funding for nonprofits and academic libraries. As a Certified Professional Facilitator through the International Association of Facilitators, de Farber created the CoLAB Planning Series® for initiating innovative collaborative partnerships. She is the author of Collaborative Grant-Seeking: A Practical Guide for Librarians (2016), and co-author of Collaborating with Strangers: Facilitating Workshops in Libraries, Classes, and Nonprofits (2017). De Farber holds a Master of Nonprofit Management from Florida Atlantic University and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California.

Schuyler Esprit, PhD

is Program Officer at The University of the West Indies, Open Campus, and director of the Create Caribbean Research Institute at Dominica State College; scholar of Caribbean literature and cultural studies; and DH project and training leader at the K-12 and College levels, including linking US and Dominican students.

Crystal Felima, PhD

is the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Caribbean Studies Data Curation at UF. She consults with researchers and scholars on emerging trends and best practices in DH, data curation, and e-scholarship in Caribbean Studies.

Mirerza González-Vélez, PhD

is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico, co-founder of The Diaspora Project, exploring migration, bilingual education, and communication in St. Croix, USVI, with oral histories and other materials presented with DH methods and tools.

Margo Groenewoud, PhD

is assistant professor at the University of Curaçao Dr. Moises da Costa Gomez and researcher in the NWO project Traveling Caribbean Heritage (2018-2021). As social historian she specializes in the twentieth century Dutch Caribbean, with a particular interest in civil society, social justice, citizenship, cultural heritage, cultural identity, and the decolonization of education. She has been the driving force behind the development of the Dutch Caribbean Digital Platform and of building the open access Dutch Caribbean Heritage Collection within that platform. Within the Traveling Caribbean Heritage program, one of her research topics is the future of Digital Humanities in the Dutch Caribbean.

Melissa Jerome, MS

is Project Manager of the US Caribbean & Ethnic Florida Digital Newspaper Project, responsible for overall project management, including overseeing outreach and publicity efforts for the public and specifically for teachers and classes.

Debbie McCollin, PhD

is Lecturer in the History Department at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She has taught a Digital History course since 2012. Her most recent co-edited publications is World War II and the Caribbean (UWI Press 2017).

Mary Risner, EdD

develops and manages initiatives that integrate area studies across the curriculum. She has taught various K–16 levels and corporate environments. Her research focuses on emerging technologies for intercultural competence and foreign language skills for the workplace.

Nadjah Ríos Villarini 

is Assistant Professor of Frenchreceived her doctorate and master’s in Linguistic Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently she works as a full professor at the University of Puerto Rico, College of General Studies. Vieques manos al arriba! [Vieques hands up!] is her recent short film that explores the musical traditions of calypso and steel drums in the island municipality of Vieques. The documentary is based on ethnographic interviews with musicians, singers, and bandleaders of Calypso, who trace hypotheses about the arrival of this music to Vieques. She has documented carnivals in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  More recently, she is working with the digital platform Caribbean Diaspora: Panorama of Carnival Practices. This projects is an initiative to document, preserve and provide access to primary and secondary sources related to human mobility and carnival dynamics in the Caribbean. 

Hadassah St. Hubert, PhD

is currently the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for Latin American and Caribbean Studies with the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) at Florida International University. She received Ph.D. in History from the University of Miami and her dissertation, Visions of a Modern Nation: Haiti at the World’s fairs, focuses on Haiti’s participation in World’s Fairs and Expositions in the twentieth century. Hadassah served as the Assistant Editor for Haiti: An Island Luminous, a digital humanities site dedicated entirely to Haitian history and Haitian studies. An Island Luminous pairs books, manuscripts, newspapers, and photos digitized by libraries and archives in Haiti and the United States with commentary by more than 100 authors at 75 universities around the world.  As a Postdoctoral Fellow with dLOC, she leads programming and digitization efforts in collaboration with dLOC’s partners, such as Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator (DVCAI) and L’Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National (ISPAN) in Haiti. In this cooperative project, she also provides training and expert technical assistance to DVCAI and ISPAN in its digitization efforts. She is the liaison and historian for DVCAI’s Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant for African American History and Culture.

Margarita Vargas-Betancourt, PhD

is UF’s Latin American & Caribbean Special Collections Librarian, LACCHA’s award-winning webinar series co-organizer, archivist collaborator on Caribbean DH courses, and Director of an ARL Fellow for Digital & Inclusive Excellence.

Alex Gil, PhD

is the Digital Scholarship Librarian at Columbia University Libraries. He collaborates with faculty, students and library professionals leveraging computational and network technologies in humanities research, pedagogy and knowledge production. He coordinates the Butler Library Studio at Columbia University, a tech-light library innovation space focused on digital scholarship and pedagogy; co-founder and moderator of Columbia’s Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities, a vibrant trans-disciplinary research cluster focused on experimental humanities; senior editor of sx archipelagos, a journal of Caribbean Digital Studies, and co-wrangler of The Caribbean Digital conference series. He is also founder and former chair of Global Outlook::Digital Humanities.

Active digital projects include Ed, a digital platform for minimal editions of literary texts, and Wax for minimal exhibits of cultural artifacts; In The Same Boats, a visualization of trans-Atlantic intersections of black intellectuals in the 20th century; and most recently, the nimble tent interventions Torn Apart/Separados and Covid Maker Response.

Natasha Joseph

is a graduate student studying Tropical Conservation and Development and an instructor of Haitian Creole at the University of Florida (UF). She is also obtaining certifications in Gender and Development as well as Sustainable Development Practices. She previously received her Bachelor’s of Science from UF in Agricultural Engineering specializing in biosystems. As a Haitian scholar, her research is deeply personal. Natasha seeks to understand, and eventually help to rectify, how and why the infrastructure of Haiti cannot withstand natural hazards that become full blown disasters. She is currently working on her thesis “Lè Fanm Andeyò Travay: A Micro-Level Analysis of Agro-Sustainability Practices of Rural Women Heads of Households in Northern Haiti” which centers rural women and their agricultural practices. It is her hope to expound on this research utilizing the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) methodology that will allow Haitian farmers to improve their soil quality and counter deforestation using the assets available to them in their community.

Graduate Student Interns

Brittany Mistretta

is a PhD candidate at the University of Florida and Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH), specializing in archaeology and working towards certificates in Museum Studies and Digital Humanities. In 2019, she was awarded the FLMNH Bullen Award for Student Excellence in Circum-Caribbean Anthropology Research.

Hannah Toombs