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Marine and Environmental Sciences

Principles of Community
Where Did 8 Million Tons of Ocean Plastic Go?
Learn about the Marine Science Center

Rising to the Occasion

It is in the times marked by great uncertainty that we see the potential of the human spirit. The past trials of war, famine, and disease were equally met by the will of entire generations to overcome. Now, as the reality of climate change sets in, we once again stand at the precipice of a historic and unique challenge, with a call for leadership, foresight, and great courage.

In these times, hope must be prefaced by action. Hard scientific truths will have to be reconciled with economic, political, and social ramifications. It will require a global commitment where every person, no matter their education, age, careers, or affiliations, wear the badge of scientist.

The Northeastern Marine and Environmental Science program seeks to prepare future generations of climatologists, ecologists, and marine biologists for the front lines of climate change — to reclaim our coral reefs, and oceans, our biodiversity, our air, and certainty for our future.

Degree Options

Coursework and Requirements
A sampling of the types of courses you could take here.
Beginning Scuba
EEMB 1145

Focuses on basic skin diving and scuba diving skills, with emphasis on safety.

Age of Dinosaurs
ENVR 1103

Utilizes evidence from the sedimentary rock record to evaluate and to interpret significant biological and physical events in Mesozoic earth history.

Biology of Whales
MARS 3430

Offers a comprehensive review of the biology, ecology, and management of cetaceans.

Co-Op Stories

Many Marine and Environmental students choose to participate in the university’s signature co-operative education program because it offers excellent preparation and exposure to exciting careers.

Elena Crouch

Costa Rica
Environmental Studies/International Affairs


John Syzonenko

North Shore, MA
Started as Physics and switched to Environmental Science


Gwendolyn Schanker

Woods Hole, MA


Alfred Kyrollos

Boston, MA
Biology/Marine Biology


Faculty Research

Marine and Environmental Sciences
Biomimetic Underwater Robot Program
Dr. Ayers' research focus is on the neuroethology of motor systems in invertebrates and lower vertebrates and the application of this knowledge to the development of advanced robots.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Detrich Lab
One central strategy of the Detrich Lab's work is the comparative approach to adaptational evolutionary biology – they use phylogenetically controlled contrasts to evaluate molecular causation in natural experiments, such as the evolution of proteins to function efficiently at cold temperatur..
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Lotterhos Lab
The Lotterhos Lab at Northeastern Marine Science Center seeks to understand how climate has shaped marine biodiversity and how a now rapidly changing climate will affect biodiversity in the future.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Vollmer Lab
This research group studies the evolution and ecology of marine organisms using cutting-edge, next-generation sequencing, which had revolutionized molecular genetics by providing unprecedented access to the genetic variation in any organism’s genome or transcriptome.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Emergent Epidemics Lab
Research in the Emergent Epidemics Lab spans a broad range of topics in complex systems and network science, with an emphasis on infectious disease dynamics and forecasting/predictive models.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Bowen Lab
Much of the research in the Bowen Lab is focused on how salt marsh microbial communities, and in particular those microbes that are important in the nitrogen cycle, respond to global change drivers.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Grabowski Lab
The Grabowski lab focuses on marine ecology, fisheries, conservation biology, social-ecological coupling, environmental policy, and ecological economics.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Helmuth Lab
The Helmuth lab uses mathematical and physical models to incorporate the many factors of our changing climate to predict patterns of body temperature in key intertidal organisms around the world.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Hughes Lab
The lab is interested in the interactions among the numbers and identity of species, the genetic individuals that make up those species, and the ecosystem services that they provide.  They use a combination of lab and field experiments, molecular techniques, and data synthesis to understand th..
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Kimbro Lab
The Kimbro lab studies why coastal habitats such as salt marshes and oyster reefs thrive in certain areas, but not in others.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Earth Surface Systems Lab
The lab studies hydrologic and climatic variability and its connections to the natural and built environment. They are interested in how floods, droughts, and other climate-related hazards shape landscapes and societies across the land-sea interface.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Ries Lab
The program investigates a wide range of subjects in the marine and geological sciences, including global climate change, ocean acidification, paleoceanography, paleobiology, carbonate sedimentology, isotope geochemistry, biomineralization, and carbon sequestration.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Trussell Lab
Research in the Trussell Lab is focused on the ecology and evolution of marine communties, in particular the role of species interactions in shaping communities. This work involves laboratory projects and field research that spans the breadth of habitats in the Gulf of Maine.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Hydro-Geo-Spatial Research Lab
Marine and Environmental Sciences
STReSS Laboratory
The STReSS Lab allows for critical advances in security and sustainability, as structures and their components are tested for resilience against hazards and events both man made and natural.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Environmental Sensors Lab @ Northeastern University
The Environmental Sensors Lab develops new sensors, instruments, and signal processing strategies to optimize our ability to study the natural and built environments.  
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Larese-Casanova Research Group
Our current projects are studying the biogeochemical cycling of selenium, the fate of metallic particles in aquatic environments, and ways to improve drinking water treatment using synthesized carbonaceous materials.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Sustainability & Data Sciences Laboratory (SDS Lab)
Researching computational and data-enabled solutions for a sustainable and secure environment.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Social-Ecological Sustainability Lab
The Scyphers Lab studies coastal development, fisheries management, and climate adaptation. From a social-ecological systems perspective, their interdisciplinary research is problem-and-solution focused and strives to develop strategies for sustaining both coastal ecosystems and societies.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Patterson Lab
The Patterson lab works to develop autonomous underwater robots for civil infrastructure and marine sensing and decision support tools for gray/green infrastructure like tide gates while studying environmental fluid mechanics,biomechanics, and mass transfer in living systems.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Dr. Rosengaus’ Lab
Dr. Rosengaus’ research tries to understand the factors that may have selected for the evolution of insect sociality. This work is at the interface of evolutionary biology, behavioral and chemical ecology, immunology and genetics. Social insects represent excellent social test organisms to answer..
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Stubbins Lab
Aron Stubbin's research fouses on environmental chemistry, geochemistry, the carbon cycle, freshwater, coastal and ocean biogeochemistry, feedbacks between natural biogeochemical cycles and climate change, permafrost, black carbon, and aquatic microplastics
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Coastal Sustainability Institute at the Marine Science Center
The MSC's research topics relate to understanding how the projected impacts of climate change will affect marine habitants, and how urban communities along the coast can best prepare for these impacts.
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Marine Science Center
An internationally recognized research institution that focuses on the ocean environment, marine life and ecology, and discovering biotechnological and medical potentials in the sea. Projects include building underwater robots and creating genetically engineered seaweed to clean wastewater from a..
Marine and Environmental Sciences
Center for STEM Education
This university-wide center aspires to play a key role in shaping and implementing the K-20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education strategy at Northeastern University, and to impact STEM teaching and learning at all levels, both locally and nationally.
The Minds Behind COS MES
Faculty Spotlight
Katie Lotterhos
Marine and Environmental Science
Among other research, Lotterhos is trying to help the oyster industry select for the traits that will make oysters both thrive in their environment and melt in your mouth.
Randall Hughes
Marine and Environmental Science
Hughes is interested in understanding the causes and consequences of biodiversity within and across species. She focuses on marine and estuarine systems because of the strong experimental tradition in these systems and the important ecosystem services they provide to humans.
Joseph Ayers
Marine and Environmental Science
For more than four decades, Ayers has been working to develop underwater robots that do not rely on algo­rithms or external con­trollers.
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The Sum Total: A Collection of COVID-19 Stories Across COS

When COVID-19 emerged as global threat, it demanded action. The Northeastern College of Science heard the call.

A fleet of professors, researchers, technicians, staff, and students overnight became mobilized to fight on the front lines of science. Together, and in every discipline of science, they were able to make significant contributions to the collective good: developing epidemic models, serving as advisors to local and national government, studying the structure of the virus, assisting with contact tracing, developing systems for on-campus testing, and more. Even as pandemic continues, so does their work.

Thanks to [email protected]‘s exceptional team of journalists and photographers, we are now able to present a retrospective of their work, through the first six months of COVID-19.

| March 2, 2020

How Can We Stop The Spread Of False Rumors About COVID-19? Better Math.

Alessandro Vespignani is Sternberg Family distinguished university professor of physics, computer science, and health sciences, and director of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Research from the Network Science Institute uses mathematical equations to track how “social contagions” spread. This data shows how to follow false news and rumors about COVID-19, and why gossip spreads like a disease itself.

Featuring: Jessica Davis (PhD student), Alessandro Vespignani
Topics: Mathematics, Network Science

| March 6, 2020

Closing Borders Can Delay, But Can’t Stop the Spread of COVID-19, New Report Says

The Network Science Institute published a study showing that closing boarders and travel bans might slow the spread of COVID-19, but will not stop the spread. Their study used Wuhan travel bans as an example for America

Featuring: Jessica Davis (PhD student), Ana Pastore y Piontti, Alessandro Vespignani
: Network Science

| March 20, 2020

Here’s Why Washing Your Hands With Soap for 20 Seconds Protects You From COVID-19

Thomas Gilbert explains the simple chemistry behind why washing your hands with soap is so effective at killing virus’s and bacteria. This goes into why the twenty second rule is important, and how soap as a lipid can fight the lipid casings of bacteria that water can’t dissolve.

Featuring: Thomas Gilbert
Topics: Chemistry and Chemical Biology

| March 27, 2020

He’s Preparing the ER for a Surge of COVID-19 Patients. There’s Nowhere Else He’d Rather Be.

Abhishek Mogili is a Biology co-op student helping prepare hospitals for the incoming onslaught of patients. Acting as an extra set of hands, he helps brace for impact with COVID, a common theme among pre-med co-ops.

Featuring: Abhishek Mogili (Co-op student)
Topics: Biology

| April 1, 2020

Here’s How to Combat the Feat Caused By a Barrage of COVID-19 News

David DeSteno explains how rumors and fear, while useful, can get blown out of proportion. DeSteno goes on to show how this applies to the pandemic, and how to combat this unnecessary fear.

Featuring: David DeSteno
Topics: Psychology

| May 15, 2020

The Coronavirus Might Have Hidden Weak Spots. Machine Learning Could Help Find Them.

Chemists at northeastern research possible weak points the COVID-19 virus might have. Using machine learning, coupled with knowledge of the disease’s amino acids, Mary Jo and Penny could locate these weak points, helping create possible vaccines down the line.

Featuring: Penny Beuning, Mary Jo Ondrechen
Topics: Chemistry and Chemical Biology

| June 1, 2020

When My Brothers Table Needed Help, the Marine Science Center Faculty Stepped Up

Volunteers work at My Brother’s Table, the largest soup kitchen on Boston’s North Shore, to provide meals for takeout and delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

The Marine Science Center had taken notice that food shelters had less volunteers during the pandemic, and was struggling to help feed people especially when the home style dining they cherished became impossible. The researchers working at the MSC stepped up to keep meals flowing for those in need.

Featuring: Torrance Hanley, Randall Hughes
Topics: Marine and Environmental Science

| June 3, 2020

COVID-19 Misconceptions Are Hard to Fight. Cognitive Psychology Might Help Spot Why People Get the Coronavirus Wrong.

John Coley explains how misconceptions about COVID arise, and why psychologically they make sense. He goes on to explain how to fight these misconceptions with that same psychology.

Featuring: John Coley
Topics: Psychology

| July 27, 2020

Scientists Still Don’t Have all the Answers About the Coronavirus—and That’s a Sign of Progress

As researchers study SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 at breakneck speeds, one key aspect to keep in mind is that the research is happening while everyone watches. “The public is getting front-row seats to the scientific method, probably in a way they never imagined they would’ve experienced,” says Samuel Scarpino, who runs the Emergent Epidemics Lab at Northeastern.

Featuring: Sam Scarpino
Topics: Marine and Environmental Science

| August 5, 2020

Northeastern’s Life Sciences Center is a Cutting Edge Laboratory That Will Process the University’s Coronavirus Tests

The Northeastern Life Science Center receives permission to process the university’s coronavirus tests. This tremendous project is led by Jared Auclair, an assistant professor of biotechnology.

Featuring: Jared Auclair
Topics: Biotechnology

| August 6, 2020

How to Talk to Others About Healthy Habits Like Face Masks and Distancing

William Sharp discusses the stresses “mask vs no mask” interactions can cause, and shares how to start the important conversations surrounding them. It is always better to be aware of what everyone is comfortable with going into a public event.

Featuring: William Sharp
Topics: Psychology


October 25, 2020
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‘To Benefit the Earth and Those Upon It.’ Announcing the 2020 Muckenhoupt Scholarship Winners.

Congratulations to Allison Noble and Haley Bayne, this year’s recipients of the Dr. Carl Muckenhoupt Scholarship!

The Muckenhoupt Scholarship is awarded each year to Northeastern undergraduate students who will use their training in science “to benefit the environment of the earth and those upon it.” The 2020 recipients were chosen from an impressive pool of academically exceptional and environmentally inclined students.

Allison Noble (’21), Marine Biology

Allison Noble (2021) is a Marine Biology student who has worked on several projects with the Marine Science Center, including research internships in the Hughes Lab and the Kimbro Lab.

Noble says she has most appreciated the opportunities to do field work in a diverse array of different ecosystems, especially the oyster reefs in both Florida and Rhode Island. Her work studying stony coral tissue loss disease was featured in a news feature earlier this year.

Noble’s latest project, in collaboration with Jeriyla Kamau-Weng, another Northeastern student, is development of the Marine and Environmental Sciences Peer Mentoring program. The program — the first of its kind in the College of Science — will be launched in the fall and already has over sixty participating students!

This summer, Noble volunteered at the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, NY for the third year in a row, and participated in a virtual internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researching soundscapes in areas with varying levels of habitat degradation at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Her sound ecology work will continue this Fall with a co-op at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researching sensory and sound ecology on coral reefs.

Allison Noble in Bocas Del Toro. Photo by Tim Briggs


Hayley Bayne (’20), Environmental Science

Haley Bayne (2020) is an Environmental Science student with interests in sustainability, ecology, and science communication.

She has enthusiastically seized opportunities for study and field research abroad during her undergraduate degree. One of her favorite experiences was a Dialogue course in Iceland, where she explored local geology and was inspired to consider ways that sustainable energy practices in place in that country could be and applied in the United States.

Bayne also worked in the Rosengaus Lab studying antifungal mechanisms in termites, where she honed her research skills, mentored younger students, and produced a research paper which will be published later this Fall.

Last year, she was invited to attend a research conference in the Netherlands, where she was able to attend lectures as well as network with researchers at the top of their fields. Bayne is currently taking virtual classes at Northeastern in addition to exploring new interests and developing her skills in science communication and lab research.

Congratulations to both of these scholars on receiving the 2020 Muckenhoupt Scholarship and for all of their exciting research! With co-op and research experiences throughout their time at Northeastern, these students With co-op and research experiences throughout their time at Northeastern, Bayne and Noble are well prepared to make a positive impact with their future work.


Hayley Bayne in Iceland. Photo courtesy of Hayley Bayne.


October 23, 2020

Co-op and COVID: Working at the Marine Biological Laboratory

Co-ops are the cornerstone of a Northeastern University education. Applying classroom lessons to real world environments can be a transformational learning experience. So how does it work during an international pandemic? 

Throughout the Fall 2020 semester, we’ll be checking in with COS co-ops to find out. Read about their unique Northeastern experiences and the ups-and-downs of COVID-19 on their work, their social life, and their thoughts on the future.

Follow the series with the hashtag #COSCoop

Meet Co-op Liana Greenberg-Nielsen, Cephalopod Aquarist at the Marine Biological Laboratory

Can you tell us what a standard day is like for you working there?

Basically we start the day by coming in and checking with our supervisor and everybody else on the team. Then we go straight into our a.m. feeds.

We net shrimp and mysids for these tiny little glass shrimp that we feed out to the hatchlings and the younger animals. We go around and we feed everything. And after that, we have to feed more things!

Then we go into feeding the octopus and they’re kind of high-maintenance and they require us to clean their tanks individually and like feed each of them individually with little tweezers, and you have to cut all the shrimps heads off because they are a little more high-maintenance.

Can you talk a bit about how COVID-19 has shaped your co-op?

Because of COVID, we have a capacity requirement in each room. There’s less people than normal in the miracle true room, which is where we keep most of the animals. Feeds take a lot longer than they would normally, because there’s only two of us going around feeding everything. So our mornings are consumed by a.m. feeds, feeding the octopuses, and mid day feeds. There’s a lot of animals and not enough people to get it done rapidly. So that’s definitely a thing that’s been affected by COVID.

After lunch, we go into either our own individual projects that we’ve been working on with our supervisors and the people on the cephalopod team, or we do animal moves or break down/set up new tanks for animals that are getting bigger, and regular maintenance.

Once that’s done, we go into p.m. feeds, and then our day’s over. It’s definitely separated by a lot of feeding in the morning and then more creative and individualized things in the afternoon.

What would you say is the “mission statement” of your co-op?

The goals of the cephalopod initiative, which is the project that I’m working for, is to create a new model organism that can be used by the biological community. We have drosophila (fruit flies) and we have mice and rats that we use right now as model organisms for a variety of different things.

So our goal is to create this new model organism. There are many different types of cephalopods, they all have these great aspects of their biology that would lend themselves to a variety of different uses. Their neurons are massive, compared to their size, and their brains are huge compared to the rest of their body. This makes them a lot like us. Also, we have a lot to learn about he the way they move, which may benefit soft robotics.

This will be the future of a lot of research. It’s like the research for the research.

Why did you choose to apply for this co-op? Is it different than what you expected, either because of COVID-19 or for other reasons?

I applied because the Marine Biological Laboratory just seems like a really cool place to work. It’s at the forefront of marine and biological research, so working here just seemed like a really exciting prospect for me.

The people who work here, like my boss, are just so passionate about the project. I’ve never met people more excited about what they’re doing. They’re excited to say things like  ‘we’re going to count eggs for an hour.’ My boss will even say ‘I haven’t taken a day off in seven months because it’s so hard to leave.’ It’s just been really exciting to work with people that are so, so into the thing that they’re doing.

My idea for the job has changed a lot since coming in. I didn’t really realize how big a deal the project was. I thought I was going to take care of these squids, and that’s going to be really cool. I get to live in Woods Hole and it’s gonna be really interesting. I didn’t fully realize the scope of the project until the middle of the co-op. I was scrolling through my podcasts and there’s an NPR shortwave episode about the work that I’m doing. And it’s like, “Oh, okay.” This is very cool.

Can you talk about specific skills you’ve learned that might apply to the future, as well as anything that’s stuck with you from your college experience?

I had very little animal husbandry skills before coming into it. It was great because I think the team understands that if you’re coming in as a college student, you probably haven’t really been working with these weird organisms that long. So they’ve been really understanding and shown us the ropes. That’s a skill that I know will be useful in my future.

In a broader sense, I think so much of the job is problem solving. Those kind of job skills can be more important than the physical ones that you learn. I can take care of these animals, but I also learned to look at a system from an outside perspective and see what’s wrong with it, to then fix it from the inside.

Working with so many animals, do you have a favorite? 

Well, the flamboyant cuttlefish are just so unbelievably cool looking. I feel like when I first came in, they were my favorite. Because they’re the flashiest. But I think as it’s gone on, I really like the squids. We have striped pajama squid, and we have hummingbird squid, and they’re just ridiculously cute. You don’t expect squids to be so cute, but they are, and they’re just so fun to watch.

 Do you have any advice you can now offer from your experience?

Job postings don’t always explain or do justice to the full scope of a job. Once you’re really working in the field and learning everything, it can be so exciting and new. For me, I feel like this job is a perfect mixture of guided work and individual projects.

October 09, 2020

They’re Cute. They’re Furry. And They’re the Unsung Heroes of Wildfire Protection Efforts.

From California to Washington, the West Coast is experiencing a fire season unlike any other on record. Since August, climate change-fueled wildfires have scorched more than five million acres across the three states, taking dozens of lives, destroying thousands of buildings, and making the air unbearable for millions of people.

Benjamin Dittbrenner, an associate teaching professor in the Marine and Environmental Sciences department at Northeastern, says wetlands and beavers are an important part of the fire protection puzzle. Beaver ponds and wetlands have been shown to filter out water pollutionsequester carbon, and attenuate floods.

But perhaps a lesser-known fact about the toothy rodents is that they play a key role in creating fireproof shelters for plants and animals. And by building dams, forming ponds, and digging canals, these architects of the natural world irrigate stream corridors that help slow the spread of wildfire.

Read the full story here

October 05, 2020

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