northeastern university seal

Jennifer Bowen

Associate Professor

Mailing Address:

MSC (Marine Science Center), Nahant, MA 01908


  • biogeochemical cycling, coastal wetlands, ecosystems ecology, Microbial ecology



My work runs the gamut from understanding how human derived nutrients are altering the structure and function of salt marshes to examining whether oyster aquaculture increases the prevalence of both beneficial and harmful microorganisms in the environment. At the broadest levels, I am interested in how human activities are altering the structure and function of microbial communities and in turn how microbial communities can help ameliorate pollution from human sources.

The Boston area provides a great location for understanding how urban ecosystems influence biogeochemical cycling and the microbes that are responsible for those processes. Currently funded projects in my lab include 1) a long-term nutrient enrichment experiment at the Plum Island Long-Term Ecological Research site in Northern Massachusetts that aims to understand how coastal eutrophication will affect the sustainability of salt marsh ecosystems, and 2) Understanding how marsh restorations, including the Rumney Marsh, in Revere, MA, alter the capacity of marshes to remove land-derived nitrogen. We also have new projects that we are starting examining different aspects of plant – microbe and animal – microbe interactions, including how the invasive reed Phragmites australis alters microbial community structure compared to native lineages and how antibiotic treatment affects the microbiome of the Kemps Ridley sea turtle using a variety of cutting edge tools from molecular biology and biogeochemistry.

Jennifer Bowen in the news


Filtering fungi enhance nutrient removal in salt marshes

Salt marshes provide essential ecosystem services, such removing nutrients from runoff before it enters the ocean, but there is more research needed to uncover the mechanisms by which these services are provided and how they are being impacted by increasing human activity. A recent study appearing in the journal Microbial Ecology, led by former NUMSC graduate […]
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Blood is thicker than water for the common reed – at least that’s what the soil tells us

In a paper published in Nature Communications, Northeastern University Professor Jennifer Bowen and University of Rhode Island Professor Laura Meyerson reveal that a native type of the common reed (Phragmites australis) has more in common with other native populations of the plant growing elsewhere across the country than they have in common with invasive types occupying the same ecosystem.
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Microbial behavior reveals effects of climate change, urbanization on salt marshes

Salt marshes play a key role reducing the effects of urbanization and climate change. These marshes absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and the microbes in the marsh break the carbon down. That’s why researchers, like Northeastern University’s Jennifer Bowen, are working to find out how these vital ecosystems tick.