Awardee: Gabriela M. Carr
Bio: Gabriela (Gabi) Carr is an IoES Ph.D. student focused on improving coastal infrastructure as marine habitat. Born and raised in NYC, she has long been fascinated by urban habitats. In her undergraduate research as a biology major at Northwestern University, her research ranged widely from studying soil in restored prairies to the impacts of ocean acidification on gastropod egg masses. After teaching marine and river education in Los Angeles, she went on to complete her Master’s in Marine Affairs at the University of Washington, researching future water quality at shellfish harvest sites. At IoES she looks forward to combining marine science and coastal engineering perspectives to improve how LA lives with the ocean.
In the face of rising sea levels and storm surge, communities in Southern California are building flood prevention structures to protect the region’s iconic coastline – yet these structures can replace coastal habitat and decrease beach water quality. Our project addresses this issue with ecological modules attached to the Santa Monica Pier breakwater, allowing settlement of native filter feeders through concrete modules shaped like natural rocky reef. By incorporating a carbon sequestration waste product – calcium carbonate sand – into our concrete modules, they will not only build habitat, but also will have a light carbon footprint. In determining water quality and filter feeder larval availability, we will make use of a novel biosurvey method: eRNA.