USC Sea Grant Bids Farewell to Karina Alvarez

ByUSC Sea Grant

This month we have the incredibly bittersweet announcement that Karina Alvarez, one of USC Sea Grant’s Science, Research, and Policy Specialists, is leaving to complete her Ph.D. in Geography at the Julius Maximilians University of Wuerzburg in Germany. Karina will be based at the German Space Center near Munich and will focus on using satellite imagery to model coastal change and its impacts along the German North Sea coast. She’ll use her Sea Grant experience assessing and responding to the needs of coastal communities in Southern California to guide her as she shapes an applied research project that will inform coastal adaptation planning in northern Germany.

Karina served an integral role in coordinating, interpreting, and disseminating Sea Grant research findings on coastal hazards and climate change with coastal managers, city planners, and community members in Southern California. Karina applies her training in coastal systems, GIS, and science communication to support municipalities in building coastal resilience. Karina led USC Sea Grant’s AdaptLA Program and has been at the center of our resiliency and adaptation planning work for many local cities in the area. 

Before joining USC Sea Grant, Karina applied GIS as a tool to address environmental concerns such as urban heat islands and estuary health at The Bay Foundation and the NASA DEVELOP National Program.



“Karina was such a valued part of USC Sea Grant. She quickly mastered the challenging approaches of helping US coastal communities adapt to future threats from sea level rise. Her peers from across the nation values her engagement and competency, and she leaves behind a legacy of dedication and excellence in all that she did.”

-Karla Heidelberg, Director, USC Sea Grant



In her too short time here at Sea Grant, Karina has become a valued colleague and I’ll miss her cheerful do-anything attitude. She has tackled new projects with enthusiasm and is such a fast learner that she excels in every one. Thrown into the deep end for a national level workshop, she proved herself to be a valued collaborator and strong leader. I will miss her and the network of colleagues she has developed will miss her.  She’s helped elevate national esteem for USC Sea Grant. More than anything, she’s been a joy to work with and to mentor.

-Phyllis Grifman, Executive Director, USC Sea Grant



We are so proud of Karina, but we will miss having her on our team.  And we are not the only ones who will miss Karina. Karina has worked closely with other Sea Grant programs, particularly on the National Science Foundation funded-project focused on People on the Move in a Changing Climate.


Karina’s passion for Sea Grant’s mission is evident in every project that she undertakes. Not only does she have a deep understanding of coastal issues, but also clarity, insight, and thoughtfulness needed to address those complex issues. All thanks to Karina’s efforts, our west coast workshop on climate migration was nothing short of outstanding. She possesses unwavering positivity and a rare talent for bringing the best in everyone around her. Karina is a wonderful example of how teamwork can truly elevate us all. Working alongside her has been a true privilege.”

-Mona Behl, Associate Director, Georgia Sea Grant



There are just some people that are a joy to work with. Karina is one of them. I would work with her on any project at any time!

-Charlotte Stevenson, Senior Science Writer and Program Specialist, USC Sea Grant


We wish Karina the best of luck in her next chapter!