What is your major field of research and your role at UCSC?
My major field of research is coastal engineering and flood risk management. As the post-doctoral fellow for the Lloyd’s Tercentenary Research Foundation, I focus on exploring the use of natural coastal ecosystems like marsh and mangrove wetlands to help reduce flood risk for vulnerable coastal populations in the US and elsewhere.
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Along with project leads Prof. Michael W. Beck here at UCSC and Dr. Jane Carter Ingram at Wildlife Conservation Society, I am now working with insurance agencies to examine the value of these ecosystems as natural defences and explore ways to incorporate them into policy and practice. Specifically, I will be working closely with our team, including colleagues at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a leading global risk modelling company, to quantify the extent to which coastal wetlands reduce flood risks to properties from hurricanes.
What inspired you to enter such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual field?
I discovered coastal engineering as a subject during my under-graduate degree in civil engineering at S.R.M. University and have been hooked ever since, fascinated by the complex interactions that occur between physical, natural and human systems at this transition zone between land and water. From childhood, I have had a desire to help protect our natural environment, and I see this field as the perfect opportunity to combine these passions.
What else did you study?
I did my MSc in Coastal and Marine Engineering/Management and Phd in Coasts and Climate Change (University of Southampton).
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
The opportunity, as a civil engineer, to work with very different disciplines like ecology and finance, in a fascinating field of research, to ultimately help value and preserve our natural ecosystems.
What has been your most memorable moment at UCSC so far?
Bagel Friday at the Long Marine Lab where I am based, and volleyball on the beach with some of the LML folk!
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments, personally and professionally?
I actually consider my rather nomadic career so far as my greatest accomplishment! I have studied – and built up a network of close friends – in India, continental Europe, the UK and now the USA, and I value this highly.
What advice do you have for international students interested in attending UCSC?
To allow themselves a few months to find their feet and settle in. Santa Cruz is a very easy and friendly city to move to; UCSC has beautiful campuses in the redwoods and at LML, and there is something to do for everyone here :).
How does your work raise awareness of global perspectives?
By working on globally relevant issues – coastal risk and coastal ecosystems, and by doing this work in several countries like the USA, India, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, I hope to contribute as much as I can to raising awareness of pressing issues around appreciating and conserving our natural ecosystems, and understanding the services they provide to human beings.