NERTO Students

Karla Lopez

Karla Lopez
M.S, Environmental Engineering, Graduate

Internship Location: Virtual

Internship Date: 08/10/2020-11/02/2020


Lopez holds her Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso. Before becoming a CESSRST Scholar, Lopez was a student intern with Duke Energy. She was also an undergraduate research assistant at both the Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems and the Department of Industrial Engineering at UTEP.

NERTO Research Project Title:

Enhanced Engagement and Risk Communication for Underserved Communities:Research Findings and Emerging Best Practices

NERTO Project Details :


Lopez developed a literature review of risk communication principles and tactics when engaging underrepresented and underserved coastal communities. Specifically, the hazard of interest is chronic coastal flooding associated with increased precipitation, changing climate, higher tides, and other stressors. Ms. Lopez will work with staff members from NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management (OCM) and Sea Grant to tailor the research to discrete communities (specific communities to be determined, but will be within NC, HI, MS, and AL).

Once completed, the findings from the literature review will be tested with these communities to determine the strength and relevance of the information when applied to their populations. Testing will likely take place through interviews and meetings/workshops. The three Sea Grant Programs that are serving as partners (Hawaii, North Carolina, Mississippi-Alabama) will make final determination of this element, and will conduct this phase of the research.

NERTO Outcomes:

Lopez delivered oral or poster presentation of project results and gained new NOAA-mission knowledge and skills.

Value of NERTO to the Line Office:

Underserved and underrepresented communities are often the most vulnerable to coastal hazards, indicating a growing need to better understand how NOAA can effectively serve these stakeholders and develop culturally relevant and targeted resources to reach these communities.

NERTO Skills:

AutoCad 2D; Risa 2D; StatTools; GaBi; SimaPro; ArcGIS; ENVI; and C++; FAA Certified UAS Pilot