María graduated as an architect at Universidad Católica in 2013 and then worked in the private sector developing single-family homes and real estate projects. In 2016 she was accepted at GSAPP and obtained a Chilean government sponsored Scholarship (Becas Chile).
The field-project, entitled “An Examination of Disaster Management and Recovery in Post-Disaster Chile”, is directed by Malo Hutson, associate professor in Urban Planning at Columbia GSAPP and director of the school’s Urban Community and Health Equity Lab. It just obtained two-year financing by the President’s Global Innovation Fund (PGIF). It includes the participation of architects, urban planning and public health students from Columbia University, as well as practitioners from several scholarly sectors, who will analyze the disaster management process at Santa Olga town, in the Maule Region, which was devastated in 2017 by the worst wildfires in Chilean modern history. The research project will focus on how the State and other key stakeholders are rebuilding, repairing and reconstructing Santa Olga to a functional state. In its first phase, it will include a series of meetings, multi-stakeholder workshops and graduate-level studio courses that will reveal the challenges and opportunities the Chilean government, businesses, and NGOs face in effectively working together to respond to disasters.