People

Principal Investigator

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Dr. Jonathan Grabowski

B.S. Duke University, Biology & Economics

Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ecology

Research Areas: Ecology, Fisheries Biology, Conservation Biology, Restoration Ecology, Ecosystem Management, Ecological Economics

My research interests span issues in ecology, fisheries and conservation biology, social-ecological coupling, environmental policy, and ecological economics. I have used a variety of estuarine (oyster reef, seagrass, salt marsh, mud bottom) and marine (kelp bed, cobble-ledge) systems to examine how resource availability, habitat heterogeneity and predation risk affect population dynamics, community structure, and ecosystem functioning. Much of this work focuses on economically important species such as lobsters, cod, herring, monkfish, and oysters, and consequently is relevant for fisheries and ecosystem management. My lab also focuses on how habitat degradation and restoration influence benthic community structure, population structure, and the transfer of energy to higher trophic levels. In addition, we are interested in how fisheries management initiatives such as the design of closed areas, delineation of stock boundaries, fishing gear modifications, and quota setting impact fish population structure and fisheries productivity, essential fish habitat protection, community structure, and the social capital of stakeholders.

Much of my research involves highly coupled social-ecological systems and integrates social and natural science approaches. For instance, we are examining the ecological consequences of shoreline hardening on ecosystem service provisioning while also investigating how the environmental connectedness of coastal residents influences their decision-making around this issue. We are also examining factors that influence coastal fishing communities’ perceptions of and trust in management to help improve their buy in and identify potential barriers. Finally, we are determining how factors such as urbanization and resource specialization influence the perceptions and values of coastal residents so that we can design more effective environmental policies around issues such as climate hazard preparedness and coastal habitat and resource management.

Email: j.grabowski@northeastern.edu


Research Associates

Dr. Torrance Hanley

B.A. Cornell University

Ph.D. Yale University

Email: hanley.t@northeastern.edu


Postdoctoral Associates

Dr. Juhyung Lee

B.S. Seoul National University

Ph.D. Stanford University

Email: juh.lee@northeastern.edu


Graduate Students

Theresa Davenport

B.S. Gettysburg College

M.S. Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Theresa is a benthic community ecologist interested in informing coastal restoration using targeted experimental and modeling approaches. She is examining the role of biodiversity, and/or other characteristics of resilient coastal ecosystems, in mediating the impacts of stressors on coastal habitats and their ability to function and provide ecosystem functions and services. She is currently comparing the capacity of oyster reefs with different characteristics to augment fish production. She is co-advised by Dr. Randall Hughes. For her Master’s degree at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Theresa examined the biological impacts of living shoreline construction on benthic biota. Prior to joining the Grabowski lab, she developed strategies for monitoring and adaptive management of restoration as part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) process following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Email: davenport.th@husky.neu.edu


Kelsey Schultz

B.S. The Ohio State University

M.S. Northeastern University

Kelsey graduated from The Ohio State University in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology. Directly following graduation, she entered into the Three Seas Master’s program at Northeastern, where she focused on the effects of oyster density, biomass, and tidal height on biogeochemical cycling on natural oyster reefs. After receiving her Master’s degree, Kelsey was hired as the research technician for the Grabowski lab, where she worked for 2.5 years before transitioning into her PhD in the fall of 2018. Kelsey’s dissertation research uses a SES perspective of the oyster industry to understand how to more efficiently provide ecosystem services to increase human well-being and ecosystem health and function.

Email: schultz.k@northeastern.edu


Eric Schneider

B.S. University of Massachusetts, Amherst

M.S. University of Rhode Island

Eric graduated from University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a B.S. in Natural Resource Sciences in 2000. He then worked as a research technician in a variety of systems for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMass Cooperative Research Unit, and National Park Service, as well for Wake Forest University in the Galapagos Archipelago, before pursuing a Master’s Degree at the University of Rhode Island (URI). After completing his M.S. at URI in 2005, Eric began his career at the Rhode Island (RI) Dept. of Environmental Management (DEM) in the Office of Water Resources as biologist in the before moving to the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) in 2008. At DMF, Eric has broad habitat-related responsibilities focusing on habitat assessment, protection, and restoration. Since 2014, he has led the DMF oyster restoration program and worked collaboratively with Drs. Jonathan Grabowski and Randall Hughes, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on oyster-related research in RI. Eric is co-advised by Drs. Grabowski and Hughes and is broadly interested in fisheries, conservation, and community ecology. In the Grabowski lab, Eric is particularly interested using standardized survey and analytical approaches to quantify fish and mobile invertebrate production of restored oyster reefs, as well as assessing how restoration practices, oyster reef community properties, and environmental factors influence restoration success. He’s also particularly interested using approaches that consider both social and ecological aspects to develop restoration plans for shellfish in RI.

Email: eric.schneider@dem.ri.gov


Helen Cheng 

B.S. Stony Brook University

M.S. University of New Hampshire

Helen graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2009. After completing her undergraduate studies, Helen interned on Nantucket, MA at the Maria Mitchell Association and subsequently, in Sarasota, Florida at Mote Marine Laboratory, before moving on to pursue a M.S degree in Zoology at the University of New Hampshire. At the University of New Hampshire, Helen’s graduate work entailed studying the environmental influences on American horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) behavior and distribution in the Great Bay Estuary, N.H. U.S.A, and initiating a citizen science program to survey for horseshoe crabs in New Hampshire, completing her Master’s work in 2014. Afterwards, Helen worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant Office as a John A. Knauss Fellow in 2015, where she was exposed to marine policy at the federal level and worked on issues relating to coastal resilience and coastal communities. After the fellowship, Helen worked for New York Sea Grant as the Coastal Resilience Extension Specialist based in New York City. Her work in extension and outreach included translating and communicating relevant science of climate and weather as well as preparedness information to urban coastal communities and translating information of local urban ecological issues to, overall, inform new science research and decision-making. As a PhD student in the Grabowski Lab at Northeastern University, Helen is looking forward to enhancing her knowledge and experience, working on issues relating to coastal and estuarine ecosystems, social-ecological issues, and fisheries management.

Email: cheng.hel@northeastern.edu


Sarah Gibbs

B.S. Northeastern University

Sarah graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Environmental Science in 2021. She is interested in the social-ecological dynamics of fisheries and improving stakeholder engagement in management. Her current research focuses on identifying the adaptive capacity of commercial fishing fleets in the Gulfs of Alaska and Maine.

Email: gibbs.sa@northeastern.edu


Alicia Miller

B.S. The George Washington University

M.S. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Alicia graduated with a B.S. in Biology from The George Washington University in 2003. After completing her undergraduate studies, she worked as a taxonomy technician for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Systematics Laboratory at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. Two years later she relocated to NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole, MA, and would continue her career over the next 15+ years working on a variety of fisheries issues including collecting and processing fisheries and oceanographic data, developing ecosystem-based surveys, utilizing tagging data to better understand the marine migration of Atlantic salmon, working to include environmental variables in modeling population dynamics, developing data visualization techniques, and modeling entanglement risk of fixed gear fisheries on large whales. While working at the NEFSC she also completed a M.S. in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology where her research investigated the effects of epizootic shell disease on early life history of the American lobster. Alicia joined the Grabowski Lab in 2021 and hopes to focus her dissertation research around her current work with North Atlantic right whales.

Email: alicia.miller@noaa.gov


Research Technicians

Tommy Steriti

B.S. Northeastern University

Tommy Steriti graduated from Northeastern University in 2019 with a B.S. in Environmental Science, concentrated in conservation science.  Through his undergraduate capstone, he worked with the Grabowski Lab to explore the impacts of injury and competition on the habitat selectivity and foraging behavior of the juvenile American lobster. Tommy is more broadly interested in the ecology and sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture.

Email: steriti.t@northeastern.edu


Jonathan Auguste

B.S. University of New Haven

M.S. Northeastern University

Jonathan Auguste graduated with a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of New Haven in 2017. After completing his undergraduate, he went on to work as a technician with a local fish hatchery on Long Island raising brook and rainbow trout. He received his M.S. in Environmental Science and Public Policy at Northeastern in 2019, focusing on black sea bass research along with other members of the Grabowski lab.

Email: auguste.j@northeastern.edu


Dylan Titmuss

B.S. Northeastern University

Email: titmuss.f@northeastern.edu


Max Fournier

B.S. Northeastern University

Max Fournier graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Marine Biology in 2020 and is currently working on an M.S. in Marine Biology. As an undergraduate, he worked with the Trussell Lab in intertidal community ecology research, and later on with the Grabowski Lab on his research with black sea bass and aquaculture. Max is interested in conservation ecology and ecosystem dynamics, particularly the interaction between seabirds, climate change, and fisheries.

Email: fournier.m@northeastern.edu


Rachele Spadafore

B.S. University of Connecticut

M.S. Northeastern University

Rachele is a marine biologists whose focuses are in marine diseases, eco-toxicology, and the effects of pollutants on marine species. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019 with a B.S. in Pathobiology and a microbiology minor. She then went on to get her Masters in Marine Biology through the Northeastern University Three Seas program where she completed and published research with Dr. Steve Vollmer and Bill Precht on the effects of dredging and disease outbreak in local corals during the 2014-2015 Miami Dredging Project. Rachele is now a technician in both the Hughes and Grabowski labs where she works with the Rhode Island DEM on an oyster monitoring project which aims to look at parasite prevelance and susceptibility of oysters in Rhode Island costal ponds based on their genetic lineage.

Email: spadafore.r@northeastern.edu


Undergraduate Researchers

Neida Villanueva-Galarza

Northeastern University

Email: villanueva-galarza.n@northeastern.edu


Oscar Zenteno

Northeastern University

Email: zenteno.o@northeastern.edu


Abigail Montag

Northeastern University

Email: montag.a@northeastern.edu


Recent Graduates

Dr. Micah DeanPhD

B.S. University of Vermont

M.S. Cornell University

Micah Dean graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont in 1999. After completing his undergraduate studies, he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a year before moving on to Cornell University to pursue a Master’s degree. During his time at Cornell, Micah studied the spatial and temporal distribution of juvenile Chinook salmon in nearshore Lake Ontario. After completing his Master’s degree in 2002, he took a job as a research scientist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in Gloucester. Over his 15 year career at MADMF, Micah has had the opportunity to work on a variety of fisheries issues, including cod spawning behavior, recreational discard mortality, coastal migration of striped bass, and population dynamics of forage species. Building from this base of experience, he began his PhD at Northeastern in 2015, focusing on the influence of spatial and seasonal heterogeneity on population and fishery processes for Atlantic cod. Through his ongoing role at MADMF, Micah designed and helps coordinate a bottom trawl survey that leverages an industry-science partnership to intensively sample the Gulf of Maine cod population.  The data provided by this survey offer a novel perspective on the dynamics of this important resource and form a primary data source for his dissertation research.

Email: micah.dean@state.ma.us


Dr. Louise Cameron – PhD

B.S. University of St. Andrews (UK)

Louise graduated from The University of St Andrews in 2015 with a BSc in Marine Biology. Her PhD research focused on the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on marine bivalves and their fisheries. She answered these questions using a combination of field studies of bivalve performance across naturally occurring carbonate chemistry gradients that can be used as a proxy for future climate change, and through tank experiments that she used to investigate how ocean acidification and warming interact to impact bivalve physiology. You can learn more about her research on her website: https://louisecameronphd.wordpress.com. Louise received her doctorate degree in April 2020.

Email: louise.cameron93@gmail.com


Zuyuan Gao – Professional MS Student

B.S. Ocean University of China

Zuyuan graduated with a B.S. in Marine Biological Resources and Environment from Ocean University of China in 2019. After that she went on to explore Marine Biology as a master student in Three Seas Program, Northeastern University. During her graduation internship, she worked with the Grabowski Lab to study the fish use of oyster reefs in Rhode Island. Zuyuan is interested in reef ecology including coral reefs, oyster reefs and artificial reefs.

Email: gao.zu@northeastern.edu


Jonathan Auguste – Professional MS Student

B.S. University of New Haven

Jonathan Auguste graduated with a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of New Haven in 2017. After completing his undergraduate, he went on to work as a technician with a local fish hatchery on Long Island raising brook and rainbow trout. He received his M.S. in Environmental Science and Public Policy at Northeastern in 2019, focusing on black sea bass research along with other members of the Grabowski lab.

Email: auguste.j@northeastern.edu


Kelsey Schultz – Professional MS Student

B.S. The Ohio State University

Kelsey Schultz graduated from The Ohio State University in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology.  Directly following graduation, she entered into the Three Seas Master’s program at Northeastern, where she explored the ecosystem services oysters provide, including their ability to improve water quality in coastal areas. More specifically, she compared natural oyster reefs and oyster aquaculture sites, exploring the potential effects of oysters on reef nutrient cycling in both locations. She mainly focused on the effects of oyster density and biomass on biogeochemical cycling by looking at tissue and shell bioassimilation and reef sediment organic matter.

Email: k.schultz@northeastern.edu


 
Robert Murphy

B.S. Northeastern University

Robert Murphy graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Marine Biology in 2012. During his undergraduate career, Robert worked in the Grabowski lab studying the diet of the recreationally important striped bass (Morone saxatilis). His Ph.D. research aimed to further examine the potential relationship between striped bass and their dominant prey items in the Gulf of Maine. Specifically, his research focused on understanding the intricacies behind striped bass prey selectivity and potential physiological and ecological implications of prey  selection. Bobby’s research also targeted striped bass management along with the socio-economic consequences of policy reform. His survey work aimed to identify the perceptions and local ecological knowledge of striped bass fishers in New England. Bobby received his doctoral degree in May 2018.

Email: murphy.rob@husky.neu.edu


Chris Baillie – PhD

B.S. North Carolina Chapel Hill

Chris Baillie received his B.S. in Biology with a minor in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. After completing his undergraduate, Chris worked with Dr. Joel Fodrie at the University of North Carolina as a technician working on fisheries ecology in seagrass and oyster reef systems. Broadly, his interests include marine community ecology and conservation. More specifically, he is interested in connectivity of marine ecosystems and populations, complex trophic interactions, impacts of anthropogenic modifications to marine systems, and disease ecology.  His Ph.D. dissertation centered around the invasive shore crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus.

Email: baillie.c@husky.neu.edu


Chris Conroy – PhD

M.S. Environmental Science – University of Maryland

Chris Conroy received his doctoral degree in December 2016 where he focused on populations interactions in marine environments and how they are affected by anthropogenic factors such as fishing and climate change. More specifically, Chris studied the role that intrapopulation diversity plays in the stability and resilience of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua populations and its importance to the management of this essential fishery.

Email: conroy.chr@husky.neu.edu


Marissa McMahan – PhD

B.S. Biology – University of Southern Maine

M.S. Marine Biology – University of Maine

Marissa’s research focused on trophic interactions impact on population dynamics and community structure. More specifically, explored predator-prey interactions and how indirect effects of predators influence prey behavior. Marissa’s graduate research at the University of Maine utilized acoustic telemetry to track fine-scale movement behavior of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) in the presence and absence of predators. Marissa plans to continue studying how behavioral responses to predation influence ecosystems.

Email: mcmahan.m@husky.neu.edu


Alison Frye – Professional MS Student

B.S. Bates College

Alison graduated from Bates College in 2010 with a degree in Biology. She spent several years teaching high school science before beginning her master’s degree at Northeastern within the Three Seas Program. Her research in the Grabowski Lab investigated the use of living shorelines in the form of oyster reefs to restore estuarine habitats. Working with the Town of Essex, Alison’s study focused on selecting sites where oysters could both survive and provide the greatest ecosystem services to The Great Marsh, such as erosion control and wave attenuation. In this study, she tracked the survival and growth of juvenile remote set oysters; measured sedimentation rates, sediment organic matter, and natural recruitment; and quantified the rate of marsh retreat over the past decade.

Email: frye.alison@gmail.com


Stephen Heck – Professional MS Student

B.A. Middlebury College

Stephen Heck graduated from Middlebury College in 2010 with a B.A. in Biology.  Since then, he has spent the warmer seasons working as a research technician on a bay scallop restoration project in Nantucket, MA.  For the better part of each year he conducted background research for the Environmental Defense Fund on several fisheries conservation projects. Stephen completed his masters degree through the Three Seas Program of Northeastern University.  Fundamentally intrigued by the interconnectivity of everything, he is particularly interested in studying the effects that anthropogenic activities have on marine ecosystems and using research to understand how to best mitigate those impacts.  Stephen explored population dynamics of sea scallops in the Gulf of Maine during his time in the Grabowski lab

Email: heck.stephen@gmail.com