My name is Sudarshini and I am working together with Corrine and Alejandra on the WOODY project, where I mainly focus on quantifying and modelling wave attenuation by woody vegetation.
Born and raised in Suriname I deeply appreciate and admire nature. After completing high school I moved to Delft and started my BSc. in Civil Engineering during which I really enjoyed the topics on water. It wasn’t till my MSc. studies of Hydraulic Engineering, where I got introduced to the topic about “Building with Nature” , where I realized I could combine my passion for nature with my work. I knew that I wanted to participate in the challenge of building with nature rather than against it. With this in mind, I was eager to apply for the MSc. thesis topic on wave damping by woody vegetation for the woods vs waves project and I am very happy to research another four years on this, as part of the WOODY project. I am looking forward to working with Corinne and Alejandra in the coming years, and I believe that together we can contribute to these sustainable solutions in hydraulic engineering.
Corinne van Starrenburg
Corinne (Coco) investigates how willow forests change over time in space, so that we can make better predictions their flood protection function. She previously researched mangroves and did fieldwork in Indonesia in collaboration with the BioManCo project.
Alejandra Gijon Mancheno
My name is Alejandra, and I was born in Sevilla (Spain), where I also graduated as a civil engineer. After my BSc I moved abroad and do a joint MSc program in Coastal Engineering in the UK, Norway and the Netherlands.
I felt really drawn by Building with Nature projects from the first time I heard about them, since they provide simultaneous solutions to several societal problems. For instance, we are worried about the acceleration of sea level rise, but mangrove forests have been keeping up with rising sea levels during thousands of years. Mangroves, and other coastal of ecosystems, also capture CO2 from the atmosphere (which reduces global warming). Plus, they are already present along hundreds of km of coastline. This seemed a very positive message within the context of millions of people vulnerable to climate change. I thus decided to pursue a PhD in mangrove restoration within the BioManCO project. My PhD was a great opportunity, where I did fieldwork for several months in Indonesia. As a postdoc in Woody, I investigate how we can incorporate mangroves (in tropical areas) and willows (for the case of the Netherlands) as a sustainable ways of flood risk reduction.
Bregje van Wesenbeeck
(photo: Marijn Scheeres)
During ten years of work in the field of coastal and flood risk management I have come to the realization that there is very little actual evidence what extreme conditions like floods and storms do to coastal ecosystems, and, vice versa, how ecosystems affect these conditions. That we simply do not know this, can make people who depend on the protective power of ecosystems unsafe. That is what drives me to set up experiments to systematically test functioning of ecosystems under extreme waves and surges. I think to effectively work with ecosystems for flood risk reduction we need to look over the boundaries of our disciplines and to join forces!
Engineering is like magic: using formulas and reasoning you can predict how large structures will work even before they exist. And unlike magic, it actually works! With this knowledge I want to help design greener flood defences. However, we should be able to calculate and proof the strength of the resulting hybrid structures with certainty. For this we need full scale tests. This is the best way to ensure that these structures are actually safe.
Working on coastlines across the globe has taught me this: the future safety and prosperity of millions of people depends on sustainable, nature-based coastal defense systems. To make this happen, we need to fundamentally understand how coastal ecosystems work and thrive. We need answers to questions like: What safety, food, energy, recreational and ecological services can they provide for society? How stable and reliable are these services under global changes like climate change, sea-level rise and growing populations? To test solutions that will affect so many lives, we, scientists and (bio-)engineers are seeking the support of the crowd. This is not the time to wait until a single organization or government steps up to solve problems as big as this. Be part of it and help to make it happen.