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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Oct. 5: Experts talk Coasts in Crisis, rising seas and building resilience

Part of 2021 Sustaining Our Shores Honors Colloquium

By Dawn Bergantino

Megan Hall
Experts from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and the Mystic River Watershed Association will come together Tuesday, Oct. 5 to discuss “Coasts in Crisis; Risk and Resilience in New England” as part of the 58th annual Honors Colloquium. 

The 2021 Colloquium, Sustaining Our Shores, celebrates the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Panel experts will discuss the impact of sea level rise on our coastal communities as well as society’s response to prepare and adapt. 

The panel will be moderated by Megan Hall, host and managing producer of Possibly, a weekly podcast and radio segment on The Public’s Radio. Possibly delves deep into the field of sustainability science, reporting out what is known, and what we don’t know, about how the environment is changing and what we can do about it.

The panel will be held in-person at 7 p.m. in Edwards Hall Auditorium, 64 Upper College Road on the Kingston campus. Admission is free and open to the public; however, advance registration is required. Those unable to attend in person may watch online.

The panelists are:

Pam Rubinoff, coastal resilience specialist with the URI Coastal Resources Center/Rhode Island Sea Grant. Preparedness and resilience planning for rising seas and flooding has been a mainstay of Rubinoff’s career. Since joining URI in 1996, she has championed efforts to mainstream natural hazards and coastal community resilience into both US-based Rhode Island coastal management initiatives and international development programs through decision-support tools, policy creation, extension and training. 

For over 30 years, Rubinoff has linked engineering, natural hazards, and coastal management to provide technical assistance to vulnerable communities. Through her leadership she brings the best available science to incorporate science-based risk exposure and reduction practice into tangible guidance, outreach tools, and community capacity building approaches. Rubinoff received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island.

Elder Gonz├ílez Trejo, community programs director for the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council. In his role with the council, Gonz├ílez Trejo works to build relationships with community residents, local businesses, government and non-government partners to preserve and restore the watershed as an important environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic asset and promote climate resilience. 

He earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a focus in wildlife conservation from the University of Rhode Island and was awarded the Coastal and Environmental Fellowship for his research on the effects of habitat loss and its impact on the declining eastern towhee sparrow (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) population. His work as a wildlife biologist in California following graduation helped spark his interest in integrating his environmental work with his growing passion for social justice.

Julie Wormser, deputy director of the Mystic River Watershed Association and founder of the Resilient Mystic Collaborative.  Since its launch in September 2018, the collaborative has grown to include 20 municipalities and has secured over $2.5 million in funding to pursue regional climate preparedness projects.  

As executive director of The Boston Harbor Association, Wormser was instrumental in drawing attention to Boston’s need to prepare for coastal flooding from extreme storms and sea level rise. She coauthored Preparing for the Rising Tide and Designing With Water and co-led the Boston Living with Water international design competition with the City of Boston and Boston Society of Architects.  She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Swarthmore College and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. 

Due to the COVID crisis all attendees will be required to show either a vaccination card or University ID.  All attendees attending will be required to be masked while inside Edwards Hall.  Virtual viewing is open to all.