Joana Gaspar de Freitas
Principal Investigator | PhD

History is the base of her formal education, but at a certain point of her career she heard a “mermaid’s calling” that made her look into a different direction: to the sea and the coasts. Since then, she combines her main interests – History, Literature and Environment – to study the relation of humans with coastal areas, in a long-term perspective, with the ambition of helping to fill the gap between the Social and the Natural Sciences. Now, she has got a new challenge: to coordinate the DUNES’s project and to produce a global environmental history about these hybrid environments. What motivates her? Simple, the passion of digging in libraries and archives to find unknown histories. Histories that are worth being told. Like the ones about the dunes…


Ruwan Sampath
Postdoc | PhD

Ruwan Sampath is a coastal researcher from Sri Lanka, specialized in numerical modelling of the morphological response of coastal systems to natural and anthropogenic forcing.

After witnessing the great tragedy after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, he realized the importance of dunes, coral reefs, mangrove forests and wetlands as natural defences against coastal hazards. Since then, he focused on studying coastal hazards with an objective of planning mitigation and adaptation measures. He hindcasts and forecasts the coastal changes due to sea-level rise during the Holocene and the 21st century. He has special interest not only on the beauty of coastal habitats, but also on threats on sustainable management of such ecosystems.

He found good opportunities for coastal research in Portugal and worked at the Centre for Marine and Environmental Research (CIMA) of the University of Algarve between 2007 and 2019. He obtained his PhD in Marine, Earth, and Environmental Sciences: with a specialty in Dynamics of the Littoral Zone.


Michael Vina
Postdoc | PhD

Michael Vina is an environmental anthropologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Bergen, Norway (2019). Born in the United States and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, thirty minutes from the Caribbean Sea, Michael’s life has always revolved around coastal environments. His research interests include the political ecology of marine spaces, fishers’ local ecological knowledge, and how fish through their socio-material qualities shape daily life and political economies of the sea in coastal Ecuador. Michael has also led fisheries projects on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica, exploring the intersection between protected areas and fishers’ well-being and fishers’ perceptions of conservation technology and sea turtles. In the DUNES project, Michael will research the dunes of the United Kingdom, with a specific focus on human-animal relations.

Mihaela Tudor
PhD candidate

Mihaela Tudor is a physical geographer and earned her master’s degree in Physical Geography and Spatial Planning at the University of Lisbon with a specialization in coastal geomorphology.

Native from Romania, a country with magnificent landscapes, her personality was shaped by nature, which is why she chose Geography. Later, she started a new life in Portugal and from the beginning she felt a great love for the sea. The passion for the coast has aroused interest in this theme, leading her to develop research in the field of coastal systems, mainly related to the extreme events that affect coastal areas.

She is currently pursuing a PhD in Physical Geography at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, at the University of Lisbon, with a research focus on the reconstruction of the evolution of the transgressive coastal dunes in the last two centuries.
She is interested in coastal system dynamics, global changes and sea level rise, extreme events, coastal management and landscape changes through anthropogenic impact.​

Ana Marcelino
Project Manager & Communication Officer

An evolutionary biologist who traded the bench and her pipettes to bridge scientific knowledge and public awareness of environmental sustainability.
She started her university studies in the University of Lisbon, and after some years living abroad she is back to her hometown to work as a project manager and communication officer for Dunes.
She is interested in learning timeless stories and building strategies to engage civil society to take action and help decision-makers making better choices.


João Alveirinho Dias

Graduated and PhD in Geology by the University of Lisbon, earlier in his career he started working in Coastal and Marine Oceanography and Human-Environment interactions. Beginning his professional life as an Assistant Professor in the University of Luanda (Angola), he then moved to the Geological Survey of Portugal, the Portuguese Hydrographic Services, and finally the University of Algarve. He collaborated, as a Guest Professor, with universities in several countries (Spain, France, UK, Italy, USA, Cap-Vert, Angola and Brazil). He was also a member of some delegations of the Portuguese government abroad, like the MAST – Marine Advanced Science and Tecnology Programme. In the last years, he has published some books about Paleoclimatology, Environmental History, Historical Climatology and the History of Science.

Viriato Soromenho Marques

Full Professor of Philosophy at the University of Lisbon. He is member of both the Lisbon Academy of Sciences and the Portuguese Marine Academy. He was Vice-Chair of the European Environmental and Sustainable Development Advisory Councilsnetwork (2001-2006; member of the EC High Level Group on Energy and Climate Change (2007-2010); and Director of the Gulbenkian Environment Programme (2007-2011). Currently, he works as a Special Adviser of the Board of the Blue Ocean Foundation (Fundação Oceano Azul). He is a prolific writer and speaker on Political Philosophy, Environment and climate change issues, American federalism and European Union matters.

Local experts

James Beattie
Environmental Historian | PhD

Associate Professor at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; and Senior Research Fellow at theUniversity of Johannesburg. He is an environmental historian who works at the nexus of empire in Australia, New Zealand, China and India. He writes on conservation, gardens, ecological exchange, climate change, as well as art collecting. James is founding editor of International Review of Environmental History, an open-access, refereed journal. He also co-edits two book series: Palgrave Studies on World Environmental History and Routledge Research on Gardens in History. He also holds research associateships in the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, China, and Australia.

James is delighted to be joining the DUNES project. He has worked on comparative histories of coastal dune reclamation in Australia, New Zealand and India, which appeared in Empire and Environmental Anxiety, and will be collaborating with DUNES on a paper on trans-national historical dune reclamation.

Davis Pereira de Paula
Geographer | PhD

Professor of Geography and researcher at the Coastal and Oceanographic Geology and Geomorphology Lab, of the State University of Ceará (Brazil). Brazilian Coordinator of BRASPOR Network, between 2015 and 2017, an informal group of Brazilian and Portuguese researchers working on coastal issues and its synergies. He works on Coastal Geography, with a focus on Dynamic, Conflicts, Planning and Management of coastal areas; Environmental History; and Human-Environment interactions. Based on a previous and close collaboration, Davis will be the DUNES expert in Ceará, the location of one of the project case-studies.

Antonio Ortega Santos
Environmental Historian | PhD

Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Granada (Spain). Coordinator of the Spanish Universitary Network of Environmental History (RUEDHA) and member of the Executive Board of the Latin-American and Caribbean Society of Environmental History (SOLCHA). Antonio is also the Coordinator of the Research Group STAND – – South Training Action Network of Decoloniality. He has been developing projects in Colombia, Mexico and Spain, about the management of common goods, agricultural systems and socio-environmental conflits, in oasis. In a partnership with the DUNES team, Antonio will be working about dunes in Spain and in the region of Baja California, Mexico.

Ignacio García Pereda
Forestry Engineer & Historian | PhD

Ignacio García Pereda is a forestry engineer (ENGREF Nancy) and obtained a doctorate in History of Science at the University of Évora. In his PhD research, Ignacio focused on the history of Portuguese forestry, namely the construction of a new community of experts, the first national “experts” in forestry planning.

He produced studies on gardeners, cork harvesters and forest rangers. Ignacio is the founding editor of Euronatura’s editorial collection dedicated to Forestry History, available for free access. He has developed projects in Spain, France, Uruguay, in the management of agroforestry systems and natural parks. In the DUNES team, Ignacio will support the team of DUNES in issues related with the dunes and forests of France.

Ana Paula dos Santos Lima
Historian | PhD

Graduated in History (UESC – BA/Brazil) and PhD in Teaching, Philosophy and History of Sciences (UFBA|UEFS – BA/Brazil) with a Postdoc in Contemporary History (FLUL). Researcher at the Centre for History of the University of Lisbon and high school History Teacher. Her research interests are concentrated on Modern and Contemporary History, focusing on Science History and Environmental History, with a special appeal for the study of mentalities related with the exploration and preservation of natural resources. Currently is investigating the discourses about forest preservation in Brazil at the 18th and 19th centuries. She has an experience for about twenty years at the education system, both in brazilian and portuguese institutions and she`s also interested in investigations about the teaching of History. At DUNES, she collaborates with the dissemination of scientific knowledge for education and citizenship in Brazil and Portugal and currently is developing the interdisciplinary approach named TELLING STORIES OF DUNAS AT SCHOOL.

Former members

Rita Matildes
Postdoc | PhD

The world is so vast and fascinating! So she digs into maps to know more, to understand better, to act faster and to see farther.

She graduated in Applied and Environmental Geology and has an MSc. in Geographical Engineering. For almost ten years she focused her research on maps, images and GIS applied to coastal monitoring having finished her Ph.D. in Geographical Engineering in 2016.
Then she decided to pack her backpack and search for new adventures. During the last 3 years, she worked as a GIS specialist at SonaeMC and Esri Portugal.
Back to the R&D world.. she feels GIS can provide new insights and bring a fresh air to the field of Environmental History and she brings a new passion with her: science communication.

Monique Palma
Postdoc | PhD

Monique Palma is a PhD in History of Medicine from the University of Porto in Portugal. To follow several clues, to investigate the sources, to understand what really happened in the past it is for her an amazing work. She usually says that certain important aspects, details, processes or methods associated with the way humankind started to produce knowledge remain forgotten or unknown. A passionate historian, she believes that using History’s scientific methods to understand the past is something crucial to social development. She was awarded a Master in History by the State University of Maringá in Brazil, where she had also graduated in History. Then she crossed the Atlantic Ocean to improve her skills, she got her PhD, and currently researches into the field of Environmental History – one of the areas of her greatest interest. At the moment, she works as a researcher in DUNES. For her History is like to dive into the ocean, whatever happens, do not panic and you can see and understand many things about life and, of course, to have a lot of fun…

Daniela Rato
PhD candidate

Graduated in Environmental Geology, Geological Risks and Spatial Planning, currently in the second year of the Doctoral Program in Climate Change and Sustainable Development Policies, she dedicates herself to the study and monitoring of coastal dunes. These are complex environments, subject to the action of different variables, and because she believes in the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, using History as a tool for their study and protection is a new and great challenge for her investigation.

Meanwhile, she is working as a researcher in the SandTrack project. Before she did a professional internship at Esri Portugal and, because “doing science” is as relevant as its dissemination, she participated in the Art for Adaptation project – Odisseia pelo Clima.

She intends to show that dunes are much more than sunbathing places.

European Research Council

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme
(Grant agreement nº802918)