Anna Braswell is a coastal macrosystem scientist, interested in the connections between upland, marine and human systems. Her research program focuses on the formation, persistence and degradation of coastal ecosystems. She uses a variety of approaches to understand these complex socio-environmental systems, including geospatial data analysis and collection of empirical field data. Linking ecological, geomorphic and demographic data, her interdisciplinary research seeks to understand coastal ecosystems within a macroscale ecology framework. Her current research topics include: understanding legacy effects of humans on coastal marsh geomorphology and biogeochemistry, historical development of coastal towns and communities, the effects of disturbance on coastal marshes, and coastal vulnerability to sea level rise. She is interested in working with stakeholders and managers to create tools and produce knowledge to better manage and understand coastal watersheds and ecosystems.
Past research: Through the use of geospatial data sets, her postdoctoral research investigated human migration along the coast and the historical loss of coastal ecosystems. Her research was conducted with Stefan Leyk at the Earth Lab, CU Boulder. Anna completed her PhD in 2017 from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Through the use of ecology and geomorphology, Anna's PhD research focused on the question: What are the ultimate drivers of coastal wetland formation 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.