Janet Chernela is Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and former member of the faculties of Florida International University (where she is now Professor Emeritus) and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (National Institute for Amazonian Research), Brazil. She has also been a Visiting Professor at the Museu Emilio Goeldi, Belém do Pará , Brazil, and at Georgetown University. Dr. Chernela is the author of the book, The Wanano Indians of the Brazilian Amazon: A Sense of Space (University of Texas Press, 1993) and 80 published articles on indigenous peoples, conservation policy, gender, and language. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Language and Culture (spring semester); Anthropological Theory (fall semester); as well as The Amazon through Film; Race and Ethnicity in Brazil; and Conservation and Indigenous Peoples. She leads an summer international program to the Kayapo territories in the southeastern Brazilian Amazon (link).
Chernela has acted as consultant to Cultural Survival, The Nature Conservancy, Ford Foundation, The Pew Scholars Program in Conservation and the Environment and the Coolidge Center for Environmental Leadership. Project proposals she has authored include a restoration plan for lands devastated by gold mining in the Yanomami regions of Brazil; a resource management and tourism plan for seven indigenous groups on the Venezuela-Brazil border; funding for indigenous domestics living in urban centers of Brazil; and a study abroad program among the Kayapo Indians of Brazil. With indigenous women from the Upper Rio Negro, Brazil, Chernela founded Numia Kurá/AMARN, Associação das Mulheres Indígenas do Alto Rio Negro (Association of Indigenous Women from Alto Rio Negro, www.consuladodamulher.com.br). Created in 1982, Numia Kurá/AMARN is the first Amerindian women's association in Brazil and its longest-lived Brazilian indigenous organization.
Dr. Chernela has served as president of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA); Chair of the Committee for Human Rights of the American Anthropological Association (AAA); member of the Executive Committee of the Brazilian Studies Association. She is former member of the AAA Task Force to look into allegations regarding research activities among the Yanomami of Venezuela and Brazil and was appointed to the Association's newly formed Commission on Indigenous People. She is a participant in the United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Digital sound recordings, made by Chernela among the Tukanoan Kotiria (also Wanano) of the Northwest Amazon are filed on the AILLA website. These are being transferred to Kotiria schools, a Kotiria heritage site, and scholars.