Tara Jagadeesh joined ISTC as a coastal studies specialist, where she brings expertise in communication, data science, and community engagement to support projects for the Illinois Coastal Management Program (CMP) such as the Shoreline Management Working Group.
Tara’s interest in the coast started in her hometown of Chicago. She grew up in the North Shore community of Highland Park enjoying easy access to Lake Michigan and day trips to the Shedd Aquarium. Her love of the natural world and desire to travel led her to Montreal, Canada where she received a bachelor's degree in Biology from McGill University. After an eye-opening environmental field studies program in Panama, she then decided to pursue a Master's degree in environmental science and management from the Bren School at the University of California Santa Barbara. There, she focused on water resources management and worked with a team of graduate students to help Mālama Maunalua, a non-profit organization in Hawaii, develop a model to identify areas with high stormwater runoff. While visiting the island of O'ahu, she learned about how management decisions made on land affect the coastal environment, and how important it is to engage with communities who are the experts of their local environments.
Following graduation in the midst of the pandemic, Tara moved back home to Chicago where she began working as a research assistant with the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and helped advance policy surrounding lead service line replacement. Through MPC, she also became involved with the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative as a consultant to help build the green infrastructure baseline inventory for the Calumet region.
Although Tara misses the salty coast, she’s excited to bring her experiences to CMP and learn more about the issues that communities are facing in the Great Lakes region. Through her work, she hopes that she can help communities increase their resiliency and ensure equal access to our important coastal resources.