Student profile

Student Profile: Bryann Avendano

Bryann Avendano

6 December 2022

Playing with Uncertainty: Facilitating community-based resilience building

My Verb: to Inspire (whisper something in people’s hearts)

¡Hola! I am from Bogota DC, Colombia. I define myself as an explorer, but I try to avoid more labels than that. I have studied in nine universities across three continents. I have studied science, business, and now engineering. I received two major Bachelor’s degrees: a BSc in Biology and another BSc in Ecology from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. I also got a Postgraduate Diploma in Modelling and Simulation from CIRAD-Montpellier, France, and an Executive Diploma on Global Competitiveness Leadership from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA.

Currently, I am finishing my Ph.D. in Civil and Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. I co-founded two not-for-profits to inspire the next generation of scientists in Latin America and I have more than seven years of experience working in community engagement, education, and rural innovation for resilience planning. I love activities and sports that allow me to explore bottom-up nature: diving, surfing, swimming, and climbing.

My Project – Why plan when we can play?

After many years of working with communities in different countries and projects, I decided that there is nothing more important for me than connecting deeply with people and their values. My research interest is to bridge the gap between communities, scientists, and policymakers in planning for climate change adaptation. I use participatory modelling to tackle a wide range of topics related to planning, humanitarian engineering interventions, and adaptation to climate change. My project is a game-based simulation that aims to simulate real-life social and infrastructure decisions that will have to be made by stakeholders and policymakers in the face of climate change. The game allows multiple stakeholders to understand trade‐offs and interdependencies between social and technical dilemmas when planning adaptation to extreme weather, so all stakeholders can understand predictions and outcomes due to climate change, such as rising sea levels. Playing With Uncertainty: Facilitating Community-Based Resilience Building | Article | Urban Planning (

The supervisors of my PhD journey are Professor Mark Milke (University of Canterbury, UC) and Associate Professor Heide Lukosch (HITLab NZ). My external advisory team includes the co-supervision of Professor Daniel Castillo (School of Rural and Environmental studies, PUJ), Dr. Matthew Hughes (UC), Dr. Sarah Beaven (UC), and Dr. Rachel Davidson (Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, USA).

Next Steps

My research could potentially help other engineers and practitioners guide their community engagement interventions and practices. I am interested in bridging gaps between scientists, policymakers, and communities. I see myself as a consultant in local or national governments, ministers, or R&D offices in industries willing to connect and work together with grassroots organizations and community-based initiatives for planning future resilience and sustainable communities in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and overseas.

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