Celebrating Diversity - Francisco Munoz-Arriola

  • Dr. Francisco-Munoz-Arriola standing in front of a picturesque scene of mountains, forests and waterfalls.

Celebrating Diversity: Francisco Munoz-Arriola

Dr. Francisco-Munoz-Arriola standing in front of a church.

Sept. 15 - Oct. 15

In the College of Engineering, all are welcome. To better share the stories of how our faculty, staff, students and alumni are diverse in their many varying forms, we are celebrating various heritage and other nationally recognized months. This recognition will include stories about those in our greater engineering community, as well as sharing events and other opportunities.

Dr. Francisco-Munoz-Arriola

Associate Professor, Hydroinformatics and Predictive Analytics, Department of Biological Systems Engineering /
Associate Professor, Integrated Hydroclimate and Geospatial Analytics, School of Natural Resources

Q: Describe a bit about your personal and/or professional background.

A: I am originally from México. My family still farms the land in a small town in southern México and different U.S. places. I received my Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Oceanography. My love for engineering and science can be attributed to my father. He was a faculty member in a postgraduate institution in agronomy and the first graduate and postgraduate of his hometown.

Q: What is your role in the College of Engineering – and what do you enjoy (love!) about what you are doing?

A: I am a faculty member in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and the School of Natural Resources. My role is to design and build digital resources to improve climate-resilient infrastructure (i.e., water, agricultural, energy, and ecosystem services). I love new ideas and perspectives, mainly those emerging as a collective of evolving intellectual training. In other words, those basic and applied research endeavors with my students and colleagues.

Q: Why is your heritage meaningful to you and your family? Is there a specific example/event/tradition of how you showcase or celebrate your heritage in its many forms?

A: I love “Día de Muertos” (Day of the Death). Día de Muertos brings back our ancestors, who join us for a few days at home, the office or the cemetery. We bring candles, their favorite music, food and drinks, setting what we call “Altar” or “Ofrenda.” We dress our places in orange and adorn them with the pictures of the loved ones. The “calaberas” (skeletons and skulls) represent our melancholy and our joy to be with them. The “calaberas” are also pieces of poetry written as fun experiences or personal details of both the dead and living!

Q: How do you bring your own unique background to your role/responsibilities in the college or in your professional life?

A: My diverse academic and experiential background has allowed me to give shape to my professional life responsibilities and as part of the College of Engineering. For example, in my lab, as in the classroom, I create a welcoming environment that extols the virtues of diversity, inclusiveness, and equity as a means to civic and intellectual advancement. As a COE member, I have been supported to join students and faculty to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equal college and university.

Q: What advice or words of wisdom could you share with others in our engineering community (staff, faculty, students, alums)?

A: In these turbulent times, our university’s resilience will rely on the interconnectedness among students, staff, and faculty, our ability to continuously transform our education paradigm, and the diversity we have and will build on our campuses. We are complex systems, just like our bodies, ecosystems and cities.