Growing up in the rainforests of Hawaii laid the foundation of Mali’o’s passion for conservation science. Throughout high school and college, Mali’o conducted research in a wide variety of environments, from coral reefs to mountain forests. After graduating from Brown University, Mali’o was a Helen Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History for 2 years, where she conducted research on ecological niche modeling and coastal community resilience. Mali’o is excited to learn from and with a diverse community of peers in the CSP Program, and she aspires to one day lead coastal adaptation strategy efforts at an internationally recognized conservation organization to implement scientifically-rooted, ecosystem-based conservation solutions that are centered around local community needs.
Read about Mali'o's Year 2 Capstone
During her capstone, Mali’o is applying her coursework in science, policy, and communication to implement climate change adaptation strategies across scales in the United States. Over the summer, Mali’o developed a science- and community-informed master plan for a regenerative farm incubator on the Central Californian coast. The ongoing transformation of the 418-acre property from a monocrop Brussel’s sprout farm to a collaborative agroecological enterprise serves as a model for how farms in California and across the nation can transition from extractive practices to regenerative, carbon-sinking agriculture while also nourishing communities, revitalizing indigenous cultures, stewarding native ecosystems, and training the next generation of sustainable farmers. Mali’o wrote more about her experience in this blog post.
From October through May, Mali’o is working across multiple coastal chapters of The Nature Conservancy to create a theory of change outlining the role of conservation land trusts in strategic retreat, which is the managed migration of existing and planned development away from areas prone to coastal erosion and frequent natural disasters. Too often, the existing buyout processes are very slow and difficult to navigate, and the open space left by retreat is not managed appropriately to provide full ecological and disaster-mitigating benefits. With a clear theory of change and delineated best practices, The Nature Conservancy and conservation organizations that follow a land trust model could become key actors to help get people and development out of harm’s way and harness the power of nature-based solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change.