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Insights into the complex factors that shape people’s perceptions of their environment and their decisions around shoreline protection.
Coastal communities around the world face a growing threat from rising sea levels, more severe storms, and droughts. To address these challenges, many have turned to natural and nature-based features (NNBF) as a means of reducing hazard exposure while also providing important environmental and social benefits. Despite their many advantages, however, a significant number of waterfront property owners continue to opt for hardened infrastructure to protect their shorelines. Kiera O’Donnell investigated the aftermath of two hurricanes to gain insight into the dynamics between people and their environment in the context of shoreline protection. While both communities surveyed showed an awareness of the protective properties of NNBF, a majority chose hardened infrastructure as their preferred option. Her study sheds new light on the complex factors that influence decision-making in the face of environmental hazards, and highlights the importance of understanding these dynamics to ensure effective and sustainable solutions.
Kiera O’Donnell earned her PhD in 2022 from Northeastern where she worked with Dr. Steven Scyphers and was a member of his Social-Ecological Sustainability lab. Her dissertation research focused on the landscape and social outcomes of Hurricane Irma in the lower Florida Keys and Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle. Kiera holds a BS degree in Oceanography from the University of New England and previously worked at NOAA as a data analyst for sea level and storms.
GES Colloquium (GES 591-002) is jointly taught by Drs. Jen Baltzegar and Dawn Rodriguez-Ward, who you may contact with any class-specific questions. Colloquium will generally be live-streamed via Zoom, with monthly in-person meetings in the 1911 Building, room 129. Please subscribe to the GES newsletter and Twitter for updates .