Alumni Profile: Adria Boynton 

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Adria Boynton graduated from the Master of Design Studies: Risk and Resilience program in May, 2017. This interview was completed in December of 2020.


What have you been up to since you graduated? 

After graduation, I spent a year working on climate change adaptation research funded by the Harvard University Sinclair Kennedy Traveling Fellowship. I was based in Florence, Italy but traveled across Europe. Since returning from Italy, I’ve been working as a Resiliency Specialist at an interdisciplinary design and engineering firm called Weston & Sampson. I’m based in the Boston area and work on projects up and down the East Coast related to climate change adaptation, natural hazard mitigation, cyber security, and more.  



Any favorite memories from your time as a Risk and Resilience student? 

I was a Project Leader and then Co-Chair of the Women in Design student group while I was at the GSD. In my second year, we organized and funded a trip to bus 50 students to Washington D.C. for the inaugural Women’s March. That was an extraordinary weekend.


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 Was there something about your time at the GSD that surprised you? 

I took three semesters of Italian language classes at the College, which became an incredibly meaningful part of my time at Harvard. It was a chance to study something totally different from my major and to take classes outside of the GSD. Documented Italian language proficiency was also a requirement for some of the international grants that I applied for, and the training made my work in Florence after graduation possible. While Italian language classes might not seem related to resilience at first glance, they were a critical part of my resiliency path, and language learning has continued to be an important personal and professional goal. I started taking French language classes over Zoom at the start of this year!

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Do you have any advice for current students?

Look for funding opportunities (including grants and fellowships to fund summer internships, international travel, and research for your thesis project). Start early. There are funding opportunities across Harvard University — don’t limit yourself to just the GSD. I would also recommend familiarizing yourself with the resources that will be available to you as alumni, including the GSD alumni directory and the Harvard University alumni directory.



Photo One: Photo of Boynton at a community engagement event — giving a presentation about a resilient design project and sharing surveys for public input, all while riding on a historic trolley during a community event in Kingston, NY (Photo credit Adria Boynton)

Photo Two: Photo of Boynton presenting during a panel presentation on historic preservation and climate adaptation at Architecture Boston Expo (ABX 2019). Other panelists included representatives from One Architecture & Urbanism and Union Studio Architecture & Community Design (Photo credit Dalia Munenzon)

Photo Three:  Photo of Boynton and other participants at the “Little Mystic Channel Ideas Exercise,” in collaboration with the Dutch Delegation visiting to discuss climate resiliency in Boston and the Netherlands. This workshop was hosted by the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA). The photo also includes Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Henk Ovink (Special Envoy for International Water Affairs), and participants from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) and TU Delft. (Photo by Kyle Klein).