Professor Cruz-Torres' areas of teaching and research concentrate on the interaction between human populations and their physical environment with special attention paid to the role of national and transnational economies, state policies, institutions, and class and gender in shaping the manner in which natural resources are utilized. Her teaching and research interests include political ecology; impact of globalization upon local communities and households; gender and globalization; gender, sustainability and the environmental and social aspects of natural resource management. Her geographic areas of interest are Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, she is conducting research on the topic of gender, globalization, and the environment in Mexico.
Professor Cruz-Torres earned her doctorate in anthropology from Rutgers University in 1991. Before joining the School for Global Studies at ASU, she was an associate professor of anthropology at the University of California-Riverside. Her formal training in marine biology and human ecology has buttressed her interest in the study of coastal communities and the manner in which they rely on coastal ecosystems such as estuaries, lagoons and mangrove forests and fishing resources to develop local and regional economies and to procure sustainable livelihoods.
She is also a participant in a National Science Foundation interdisciplinary, transnational collaborative research project focusing on the links between human and biophysical processes in coastal marine ecosystems in Baja California, Mexico. The main goal of this project is to understand the dynamic and complex interactions between fisheries and their biological resources in order to develop a scientific framework for the sustainable management of the coastal fishing industry.