Isabel Rivera-Collazo : Principal Investigator

Isabel Rivera-Collazo

Principal Investigator

Isabel Rivera-Collazo is Assistant Professor on Biological, Ecological and Human Adaptations to Climate Change at the Department of Anthropology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Directs the SIO Human Ecology Laboratory. Prof. Rivera-Collazo is native to Borikén (Puerto Rico). Her work combines earth sciences, archaeology and marine ecology to understand social vulnerability to climate and environmental change, in particular through food and habitat security in coastal and marine areas. Through geoarchaeology and archaeomalacology, Prof. Rivera-Collazo works to identify lessons from the past that are relevant to communities in the present. Her research project DUNAS, combines sand dune restoration, cultural heritage and climate change to stimulate community resilience. Most recently Prof. Rivera-Collazo leads the California Heritage Climate Vulnerability Index research project together with the CA State Historic Preservation Office. This project seeks to understand the multiple definitions of site importance, and the interface between cultural significance, climate hazards threatening heritage, and prioritization of action to mitigate climate-related impacts. Rivera-Collazo works with the Borikua / Taino communities in Puerto Rico and the Tongva community of Catalina Island in California. Her work highlights the importance of building horizontal partnerships with indigenous communities through citizen science and communal archaeology. Her practice emphasizes collaboration to identify community-relevant research questions, where the recovery of past knowledge can help decolonize historical accounts and can contribute to answer questions and solve climate-related issues in the present. She is a founding member of UCSD Climate Action Lab, and has been awarded the 2020 Climate Adaptation Leader Award and the 2020 UCSD Integrity Award.

SIO Profile
2020 San Diego Climate Summit
UCSD 2020 Integrity Champion video
Stemming the Tide Symposium: Archaeological Sites

Mariela Declet-Perez : Graduate Student

Mariela Declet-Perez

Graduate Student

Mariela Declet-Perez is an environmental and maritime archaeologist currently pursuing her PhD at the University of California – San Diego. Her research explores human ecodynamics with an emphasis in human adaptation to catastrophic events (i.e. hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes). She uses techniques from paleoclimatology, geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology and integrates current local knowledge of local communities to create a reconstruction of past marine ecosystems and climate conditions. She is currently a researcher in the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology, Geoarchaeology Lab at UCSD, and the Laboratory for Environmental Archaeology at the University of Puerto Rico. She has a BS from the University of Puerto Rico – Humacao in Marine Biology, and a MA from Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe in Caribbean Archaeology.

DUNAS Project Affiliation

Margaret Morris : Graduate Student

Margaret Morris

Graduate Student

Margaret Morris is a geophysics PhD candidate at SIO, co-advised by Drs. Isabel Rivera-Collazo and John Hildebrand. She is interested in knowing how to locate submerged archaeological materials using marine acoustics, and so spends a great deal of time modeling and measuring the acoustic response of artifacts. At SIO, she has become a scientific diver, ROV pilot-in-training, and amateur photographer (for creating 3D photogrammetry models of artifacts). She loves being part of a research group that cares about ethical science and focuses its work and research questions around helping communities and society. Also a fan of blueberry pancakes. Margaret entered SIO's PhD program in 2017 after earning a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from Brandeis University.

Curriculum Vitae

Eric A. Rodriguez : Graduate Student

Eric A. Rodriguez

Graduate Student

Eric is a maritime archaeologist currently pursuing his PhD at the University of California – San Diego under the supervision of Dra. Isabel Rivera-Collazo. He is currently investigating submerged cultural landscapes in the Caribbean through his knowledge and expertise in maritime archaeology, geoarchaeology, environmental remote sensing, palaeogeographic reconstruction, and geographic information systems. He obtained a B.Phil in Anthropology and History from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012 and a MA in Maritime Archaeology from the University of Southampton in 2014, where his previous master’s dissertation focused on the reconstruction of cultural wetlands in the Humber Estuary. Since then, he has worked as an archaeologist and GIS consultant in the Americas, Italy, Great Britain, Lebanon, and Japan.

Curriculum Vitae
Student profile
DUNAS Project Affiliation

Katrina Cantu : Graduate Student

Katrina Cantu

Graduate Student

Katrina Cantu is a Ph.D. student at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her research focus is how coastal environments evolve over time due to changing sea levels, climate, and human activity. Most of her work involves the collection of sediment cores and sediment analysis including identification of micro and macro fossils, geochronology, geochemistry, and stratigraphy. Katrina has conducted field work in Israel and Puerto Rico where she collected sediment cores and assisted in both terrestrial and underwater excavations. She has a BS and MS in Earth Sciences, both completed at Scripps Institution of Oceanography/ UC San Diego.

Javier Jomar García-Colón : Graduate Student

Javier Jomar García-Colón

Graduate Student

Javier Jomar García-Colón is a PhD student in the archeology and bio-anthropology program at UCSD anthropology department, interested in ideas and perceptions of identity and sense of belonging. To better understand these ideas, he is interested in integrating bio-anthropological and archeological methodologies in order to give light to local community activities during Precolonial Caribbean and its reflection on modern social interactions.

Christopher-Michael Juniper Rojas Moreno : Graduate Student

Christopher-Michael Juniper Rojas Moreno

Graduate Student

Christopher-Michael is a PhD student in the sociocultural anthropology program at UCSD who is interested in capitalism, urban spaces, and cartography. He likes cameras, books, cats and the ocean.

Curriculum Vitae

Elyse Goin : MAS Graduate Student

Elyse Goin

MAS Graduate Student

Elyse has been interested in the ocean ever since she went to SeaWorld camp at nine years old! That interest led her to complete a Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology at UC San Diego. During that time, she learned from a wide array of scientists and researchers, some of whom gave her positions listening to hydrophone audio or synthesizing deep-sea worm DNA. Upon graduating, Elyse started working as a science Interpreter at the Birch Aquarium and soon after became an Instructor. There she taught ocean, earth and climate science to guests from the age of 1 to 100 on land or on sea. Elyse most recently worked for the Escondido Creek Conservancy as a Facilitator, leading groups of local children through the watershed habitat. Now in the Master of Advanced Studies, Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Program, Elyse is focused on coastal communities and their response to climate change impacts. She is Trinidadian and is currently working with local community partners to better understand their traditional knowledge. Elyse is overjoyed to learn more about her culture and the amazing people of Trinidad and Tobago!

Risk Perception and Community Action: Assessing Risk Perception of Climate Change Impacts in Trinidad and Tobago Through Time
Capstone Symposium '21 Video - Story Map - Written Report

Gene Depuy : MAS Graduate Student

Gene Depuy

MAS Graduate Student

Gene currently holds a BS in Political Science with minors in Sustainability and International Studies, and wrote their undergraduate thesis on fishery management and sustainability. Their background is in social and environmental activism and organizing, mainly focused on LGBTQ+ rights and marine protection/conservation. Gene is working in the Scripps Masters of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation to continue to combine marine science and advocacy. They are very interested in issues of fishery sustainability and plastic pollution, but most of their work is centered around long-term reforms of systems of exploitation which have resulted in degradation of the natural world as well as systemic marginalization of various groups. Currently, they are working with Dr. Rivera-Collazo on a project to improve scientists' engagement with the communities in which they work.

Simona Clausnitzer : Research Affiliate

Simona Clausnitzer

Research Affiliate

Simona is a research assistant for the California Heritage Climate Vulnerability Index project in collaboration with the CA State Historic Preservation Office. With this project, she works with Tribal councils, local governments, and community organizations to develop assessments that measure how cultural heritage is impacted by climate change. She earned her MAS degree from Scripps Oceanography’s Marine Biodiversity and Conservation program where she used the tools of phenomenology, discourse analysis, and the artform of printmaking to conceptualize two case studies of environmental justice: hurricane impacts in Puerto Rico, and the necessity of anti-racism within conservation. Previously, she worked seasonally as a field assistant for various ecology and geology research teams, for the National Park Service as an interpretive ranger, and on tall ships and catamarans as a marine naturalist and sailing educator.

En el Ojo del Huracán // In the Eye of the Storm: Conceptualizing Climate Justice through Printmaking
Curriculum Vitae
Graduate Research Symposium Presentation

Amanda Millin : Outreach Affiliate

Amanda Millin

Outreach Affiliate

Amanda Millin is a former food and travel writer and editor with an M.S. in Publishing from Pace University in New York. An interview with a Michelin-starred chef about his love for sustainable, small-scale aquaculture challenged everything she knew about farmed fish. Hungry to learn more, she immersed herself full-time in research. The journey allowed her to live and work with numerous indigenous and community-based aquaculture systems around the world, including Madagascar, South Africa, Fiji, the Philippines, and Hawaiʻi. Looking to supplement her on-the-ground Indigenous science with Western science, she completed a master’s in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she joined Dr. Rivera-Collazo’s lab. Having finished the program and moved back to Oʻahu, she is now the food security program manager at Mālama Puʻuloa—a non-profit working to restore loko iʻa (traditional Hawaiian fishponds) to Pearl Harbor. She remains active in the lab remotely and works with Dr. Rivera-Collazo to spearhead the Climate Heritage Network’s Working Group 2, which focuses on valuing traditional knowledge.

Mālama Puʻuloa
Climate Heritage Network
Valuing Traditional Knowledge in Climate Action (Webinar Recording)


Margie M. Burton : Research Associate

Margie M. Burton

Research Associate

Margie M. Burton is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California San Diego. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of California San Diego in 2004. She is currently Project Manager for the University of California San Diego – Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology Israel Initiative: Climate, Environmental and Cultural Change in Deep-Time. From 2005-2014 she was Research Director at the San Diego Archaeological Center, a non-profit curatorial, education and research organization located in Escondido. Her main research interests are prehistoric ceramic and ground stone technologies and their relationship to socio-economic change, employing analytical techniques such as use-wear analysis, petrography, pXRF and NAA, SEM-EDS, and X-radiography. She has worked on projects in the southern Levant, southern California and Puerto Rico. She earned her BA from Stanford University in Cultural and Social Anthropology (jointly with a BS in Biological Sciences) and her MBA from UC Berkeley.


Hector M. Rivera-Claudio : Chief Citizen Scientist

Hector M. Rivera-Claudio

Chief Citizen Scientist

Hector M Rivera-Claudio is a retired accountant, nature lover, and active volunteer of archaeological and Sand dunes restauration projects in conjunction with Para la Naturaleza, (a Unit of PR Conservation Trust) in Hacienda la Esperazan in Manati. Under the guidance and collaboration of Dr. Isabel Rivera-Collazo, Mariela Declet-Pérez (UCSD Grad student), and “Para La Naturaleza” employees and volunteers, he has become a chief Citizen Scientist. As part of his learning process as a scientific citizen, he has joined the HEL work team and has become a direct contact agent in Puerto Rico while the staff is abroad. He firmly believes that as we get closer to nature and purse its preservation, we naturally develop a more spiritual consciousness.

Publications, Education & Memberships
DUNAS Project Affiliation