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Marcela is a Research Program Director at ESI, where she conducts research in environmental planning and sustainability, leveraging technology development and data analysis for community-based planning. She serves as the manager for the Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) Program, a collaboration among researchers, environmental planning authorities and community groups, among others, aimed at designing, executing and disseminating innovative low-carbon development models and natural climate solutions to conserve strategic ecosystems, reduce environmental risk and socioeconomic vulnerability in human settlements located in strategic ecosystems in Latin America.
Marcela has a Masters in City Planning (MCP) from MIT and a Summa Cum Laude B.A in Architecture from Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia. Her previous research at MIT-DUSP includes a spatial analysis study to provide tools and evidence for the public entity that manages the public tree canopy in Bogotá to implement a data-driven tree planting initiative as an equitable and cost efficient climate mitigation and adaptation strategy; and graduate thesis on the relationships between equity-building and the ecology of public parks in Bogotá, whereby legacies of conflict and forces of social exclusion and fear, in combination with planning paradigms of order and security, end up provoking a simultaneous restraint on biodiversity and human diversity in green open spaces throughout the city.
Prior to MIT, Marcela worked for 5 years in Colombia as policy consultant, urban planner and designer. Her previous work includes developing a framework for an inclusive settlement model and overseeing the development of a sustainability model and master plan for an oil-extraction region in Meta, Colombia; the design of a resettlement project to address environmental risk and support local economies in an informal neighborhood in the outskirts of Bogotá; and planning and designing award-winning architectural projects.