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Isabel Rivera-Collazo

Isabel Rivera-Collazo is Assistant Professor on Biological, Ecological and Human Adaptations to Climate Change at the Department of Anthropology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Directs the SIO Human Ecology Laboratory. Prof. Rivera-Collazo is native to Borikén (Puerto Rico). Her work combines earth sciences, archaeology and marine ecology to understand social vulnerability to climate and environmental change, in particular through food and habitat security in coastal and marine areas. Through geoarchaeology and archaeomalacology, Prof. Rivera-Collazo works to identify lessons from the past that are relevant to communities in the present. Her research project DUNAS, combines sand dune restoration, cultural heritage and climate change to stimulate community resilience. Most recently Prof. Rivera-Collazo leads the California Heritage Climate Vulnerability Index research project together with the CA State Historic Preservation Office. This project seeks to understand the multiple definitions of site importance, and the interface between cultural significance, climate hazards threatening heritage, and prioritization of action to mitigate climate-related impacts. Rivera-Collazo works with the Borikua / Taino communities in Puerto Rico and the Tongva community of Catalina Island in California. Her work highlights the importance of building horizontal partnerships with indigenous communities through citizen science and communal archaeology. Her practice emphasizes collaboration to identify community-relevant research questions, where the recovery of past knowledge can help decolonize historical accounts and can contribute to answer questions and solve climate-related issues in the present. She is a founding member of UCSD Climate Action Lab, and has been awarded the 2020 Climate Adaptation Leader Award and the 2020 UCSD Integrity Award.

The Human Ecology Lab

SIO profile



  • Ph.D. in Environmental Archaeology (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
  • M.Sc. in Palaeoecology of Human Societies (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
  • B.A. in Anthropology (University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras)

Research Interests:

  • Socioecosystem Dynamics
  • Human responses to climatic and environmental change
  • Resilience / Vulnerability
  • Risk perception and adaptation
  • Landscape change
  • Coastal change
  • Climate change
  • Human exploitation of marine resources
  • Island biodiversity and archaeology
  • Maritime culture
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Archaeomalacology