Courtesy of Kellie Brown

Cal Poly Humboldt Professor Laurie Richmond Joins California Sea Grant as an Extension Specialist

Lena Beck

Cal Poly Humboldt professor Dr. Laurie Richmond has joined the California Sea Grant Extension Program. Richmond’s work focuses on the human, social and policy dimensions of marine and coastal issues, incorporating different ways of knowing and working with a diverse set of partners and communities.

During her nearly decade at Cal Poly Humboldt, Richmond’s work has focused on a number of marine and coastal issues including fisheries and fishing communities, mariculture, offshore wind development and coastal planning. Recently her research and outreach activities have taken a central focus on sea-level rise planning and adaptation. Her expertise includes informing sea-level rise policies to ensure they’re more just and inclusive for regional communities.

In 2018, Richmond helped launch the Cal Poly Humboldt Sea Level Rise Institute, a partnership between Cal Poly Humboldt and members of the Humboldt community including the Wiyot Tribe, whose traditional homelands encompass Humboldt Bay. Humboldt Bay, also known as Wigi, is experiencing the fastest rate of relative sea-level rise on the U.S. west coast. Richmond currently serves as the co-chair of the institute and is focused on building networks within the regional community to plan and adapt to sea-level rise in a just and equitable way. 

“"Instead of thinking of sea-level rise as a climate challenge, we think about it as an opportunity for creatively rethinking our relationship with the oceans and natural world," Richmond says.  

For Richmond, that means expanding the boundaries of how academia traditionally considers issues surrounding sea-level rise. 

“We're trying to do a little something different than academic institutions,” says Richmond. “It’s viewed as a partnership between us and local tribes and the local community.” 

Her work at the Cal Poly Humboldt Sea Level Rise Institute has included a tribal-led initiative to restore 46 acres of coastal property to the Wiyot Tribe, which was finalized this summer. The Tribe will now manage the land with a focus on ecocultural restoration. 

“With a topic like sea-level rise, there’s no way to address it in a single disciplined approach,” Richmond said. “That's why this idea of convergence or a network is so valuable.”

Richmond is as comfortable on a surfboard as she is on the ice playing hockey. Welcome to the Extension team, Laurie Richmond!


About California Sea Grant

NOAA’s California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Headquartered at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, California Sea Grant is one of 34 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.