How should we think about coastal wetlands? Are coastal wetlands endmembers or discrete ecosystems? Or are they components of a larger system?
Author: Anna Braswell
Anna is a PhD student in the Heffernan Lab (heffernanlab.weebly.com). She is a wetland enthusiast, interested in the connections between upland, marine and wetland ecosystems. Through the use of ecology and geomorphology, Anna's PhD research focuses on the question: What are the ultimate drivers of coastal wetland extent and loss? Understanding the critical factors in wetland formation can help determine how changes in land use, water infrastructure and coastal conditions will influence wetland distribution in the future. Anna is originally from the piedmont of Georgia, growing up among tall pines and spending summers on the sugar sand beaches of the Gulf Coast. After earning her BA in Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, she worked as a research assistant in California at the Channel Islands National Park. There she developed an intense interest in the nexus of sea and land. She went on to complete a MS in Biology under Dr. Julia Cherry at the University of Alabama. The focus of her master's research was on the effects of large-scale disturbances (hurricanes and fire) on salt marsh ecosystems. After receiving her degree, she worked in the Recovery Branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in southern California. Through her work in both academia and government, she has gained valuable insight into how to develop research questions that broaden the borders of science, while not losing sight of the practical application of these projects to real-world, pressing environmental issues.