We’re excited to announce the addition of three new colleagues to the N-EWN team: Dr. Andressa Mansur, Dr. Charles van Rees, and Dr. Hithaishi Hewageegana. These researchers will further the N-EWN mission by leveraging their combined expertise in engineering, socio-ecological systems, numerical modeling, ecology, biology, marine and coastal management.
Andressa will be working with the Integrating People and Policy team to help investigate and understand how natural infrastructure relates to risk perceptions, and how social contracts relating to environmental risks and benefits have changed over time. She is interested in thematic areas of vulnerability and risk of socio-ecological systems, urban sustainability, coastal management including social and environmental problems in coastal regions, socio-environmental changes in deltas and estuaries, environmental conservation, and sustainable water resources management including water quality and risk assessments. She was an Erasmus Mundus fellow in the Erasmus Mundus PhD in Marine and Coastal Management Program in Cádiz, Spain. Before coming to UGA, she did a 2-year post-doc at iDiv (https://www.idiv.de/en. Her PhD research focused on socio-ecological vulnerability and adaptation to floods in the urban Amazon Delta region. When not working, she loves spending time with her 3 years-old-son, showing him the incredible natural world.
Charles will be working with the Biodiversity team trying to optimize the ecological value and biodiversity “payoff” of natural infrastructure, including benefits for species of concern. He hails from Boston, Massachusetts, where he was born and grew up, and received his PhD in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from Tufts University in 2018. Since then, he has conducted research on a Fulbright Early Career Scholar award at Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, and then moved on to a postdoc at Flathead Lake Biological Station on a NASA-funded biological invasion forecasting project. Outside of work, Charles has studied martial arts of a dozen or more styles for the last 18 years and is currently studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and teaching Muay Thai. As a naturalist, he enjoys walking outside and studying/identifying birds, insects, plants. He is also a co-host/co-producer for ‘The Nature Guys’ podcast which delves into diverse topics in North American natural history.
Hithaishi will be working on the Scales of Natural Infrastructure team to conduct numerical studies to assess how different scales of natural infrastructure application can reduce flooding. He recently completed his PhD in Coastal Engineering from the University of Florida. He holds a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, and an MS in Coastal Engineering from TU Delft, The Netherlands. Hithaishi’s research interests lie in numerical modeling of nearshore coastal processes to study areas such as sediment transport, hazard mitigation by vegetation, and pollutant transport. Outside of work, Hithaishi enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter in his free time and learning about contemporary history.