Gianna Varela at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Gianna Varela – Fish and Feathers Intern Introduction

Gianna Varela at graduation, University of Rhode Island, 2023

Hi there! My name is Gianna Varela, and I am from Cumberland, Rhode Island. I recently graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Affairs (formally, Coastal and Marine Policy and Management) and minors in Anthropology, Oceanography, and Spanish Language. I am frequently referred to as a “jack of all trades” (and sometimes “a master of none”) by those close to me, but rather than internalize that title as a compliment or insult, I simply consider it a byproduct of my tendency to think big-picture about the world in which we live. This isn’t to say that I am incapable of seeing the forest for the trees, but throughout my academic career, I found myself continuously bewitched by the grand intersections of environmental science, economics, history, and culture on the waterfront. I completed courses in everything from marine pollution policy to underwater historical archaeology, and my interest in all things coastal anthropology manifested as a professional pursuit of answering some of the present-day’s biggest questions: How do we preserve cultural heritage in the face of anthropogenic climate change? How might we integrate the traditional ecological knowledge of diverse communities around the globe with contemporary environmental management strategies? How can we work with indigenous populations to minimize the cultural infringement caused by coastal development and industrialization? These questions all led me here, to Environment for the Americas!

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