Karina Cortijo-Robles – Improving Nature-Based Solutions for Resilient Infrastructure

Karina Cortijo-Robles

2023 Mitchell Center Intern

Academic Program: Quaternary and Climate Studies
Project: Improving Nature-Based Solutions for Resilient Infrastructure
Team Leader: Nathan Robbins, Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection; Lauren Ross, UMaine Civil & Environmental Engineering; Jessica Jansujwicz, Maine Sea Grant and Mitchell Center; Parker Gassett, Maine Sea Grant

What problem/s are you working to solve?
The communication bridge between the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), contractors, engineers, and the general public regarding using green infrastructure for shoreline stabilization.

What progress are you making toward solutions?
I’m creating short documents full of imagery, diagrams, and brief sentences that can be accessible to any public using plain language. Also, I want to develop more content for the DEP general webpage and short videos. During July and August, I will work on coordinating focus groups that can give feedback regarding the material developed and assess what can be better.

How could your findings contribute to a sustainable future in Maine and beyond?
Using green infrastructure for shoreline stabilization will help us to enforce the term “Living Shorelines,” in which we use natural products, such as vegetation, to prevent erosion in coastal or lake shorelines, thus not relying on plastic or any other non-natural product.

Why did you get involved with this internship project?
I was highly interested in understanding how the state agencies work and how I can translate information for different constituents, such as engineers and the general public.

What do you find rewarding about collaborating with stakeholders? Most challenging?
The most rewarding part is that I learn the valuable work they do in terms of shoreline stabilization. However, the most challenging part of this work is trying not to rely on or use words that only DEP staff utilize to explain the importance of the application of shoreline stabilization.

Where do you hope to be in five years?
In the next five years, I hope to be working on my Ph.D. dissertation or working outside of academia in a Cultural Resources Management (CRM) job.

What’s your ultimate Maine experience?
Seeing the change of seasons! It’s so beautiful to see the gradual change from winter to spring. Houses and sidewalks full of beautiful flowers.