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Graduate Students


Ellie Handler

I am broadly interested in the roles of microbe-host relationships in coastal ecosystems, especially the ways these interactions can affect biogeochemical cycling. I am also fascinated by ecological restoration and the ways that we, as people, interact with and shape the world around us. During my PhD, I hope to investigate the potential role of microbes in marsh restoration practices. I am co-advised with Dr. Randall Hughes. Prior to starting at Northeastern, I received a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University and an M.S. in Arctic and Marine Ecology from the University of Tromsø. I have also worked in science communications and fisheries monitoring in Sitka, AK.

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Mya Darsan

I am broadly interested in microbial ecology (community scale) and fungal-plant interactions within coastal ecosystems. In the Bowen Lab, I am focusing on fungi in salt marshes and how fungal-plant interactions may be impacted by climate change and how this may alter salt marsh function. My goals are to determine what roles fungi play in salt marshes using molecular and culture-based approaches. I am currently a Strategic Advancement of Rising Scholars (STARS) Fellow. I earned my B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science with a specialization in ecosystems from the University at Albany (SUNY). As a woman of color in STEM, I hope to further contribute to diversity and inclusivity efforts within STEM and make science more accessible to all through mentorship and outreach. You can learn more about me and my work on my website.


Stephanie Tsui

I am a PhD Candidate in the Bowen Lab, and my research spans both ecological and human dimensions. I am interested in how human impacts (i.e., nutrient loading) and climate-driven range expansion affects plant-microbe interactions in coastal ecosystems. My work uses metagenomics and 16S rRNA sequencing to determine potential changes in microbial pathways for carbon cycling. I am also interested in how people perceive human-nature relationships and climate change across the Eastern and Gulf US. I earned my B.S. in Environmental Science and Management with a minor in Soil Science from UC Davis. I also worked as a technician in the Agroecosystem Water Quality Lab (formerly at Iowa State) and a STEM Educator for the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. As a queer person of color in STEM, I am passionate about outreach education and mentorship! 

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Johanna L'Heureux

Broadly, I am interested in host-microbe interactions and how they respond to and shape their environment. Before starting at Northeastern, I received my bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst in Biochemistry where I studied the intricate symbiosis between legumes and nitrogen fixing soil bacteria. Other past research experiences have involved formulating probiotics to increase viability throughout storage as well as characterizing the effects of mixtures of plant growth-promoting bacteria on seedling germination when subjected to heat stress. While in the Bowen lab, I hope to conduct research related to plant-microbial associations in salt marsh ecosystems and the role they play in the cycling of carbon and nitrogen. I also hope to learn more about how to better communicate scientific topics so that science can have the greatest impact in helping solve the global challenges we are currently facing.


Hillary Sullivan

I am interested in how ecosystem functioning is altered by anthropogenic activities. More specifically, I study how salt marsh nitrogen cycling and related processes change in the face of shifting climate and altered human activity. During my PhD, I expect to delve deeper into the mechanisms that drive crucial biogeochemical processes. Prior to joining the Bowen lab, I received my B.A. and M.S. from Clark University. I also worked as a Lab Manager in a biogeochemistry lab at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, and a Research Assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. I have worked at the Woods Hole Research Center for the past three years, and will continue here full-time while working toward my PhD. 

Brian Donnelly

I  joined the Bowen Lab after working as a laboratory technician at Villanova University. At Villanova, I worked in a biogeochemistry lab that focused on marshes and how changes in the environment can impact metabolic rates.  I hope to continue biogeochemical work in marsh systems, but also investigate how microbial community structure and function shifts  as a result of environmental change. I hope to investigate how denitrifying communities change as a result of pulse and press changes in salinity and temperature, as I believe these are the most relevant global climate change drivers. Investigating these shifts in denitrifying communities could give us valuable information on how the nitrogen cycle responds to global change. Also, as a gay person in STEM, I hope to find ways to make the LGBTQ community more visible in STEM, act as a mentor to young LGBTQ people pursuing a career in STEM, and let this underrepresented community know they are not alone!


Postdoctoral Scholars


Kylea Garces is a future-faculty postdoctoral fellow co-advised by Dr. Jen Bowen. Kylea is a community ecologist and excited by all things fungi! Broadly, her research focuses on community assembly of fungal endophytes, with a particular focus in coastal grasses. Kylea is interested in the ways various stressors associated with global change induce shifts within microbial communities which have cascading effects on the plant host, community, and ecosystem. Within the lab, she has built a foundational culture collection of leaf and root fungal endophytes living within marsh grass, Spartina alterniflora, from Plum Island LTER and continues to explore questions of assembly and function of fungi within the marsh. Additionally, she is committed to increasing science literacy and inclusivity in STEM, with her personal philosophy being education as a form of empowerment. She continues to pursue education research as an action towards progressing the academic experience for undergraduate students, particularly those from minoritized backgrounds. You can learn more about her work here.

Kylea Garces


I am a postdoctoral research associate in the Bowen Lab, and I am interested in the processes that shape the deposition and preservation of organic carbon in coastal wetland sediments.  My work focuses on how plant and microbial ecology and coastal sedimentology control organic matter formation, burial, and preservation.  I am studying how nitrogen inputs, a major anthropogenic influence on coastal ecosystems, affects the ability of salt marshes on the East Coast of the U.S.A. to sequester carbon and to accrete sediment.  I am helping lead a three-year field study of how different amounts and chemical forms of nitrogen inputs drive changes in plant biomass accumulation, microbial community response, and sediment carbon sequestration and accretion.  Prior to coming to Northeastern University, I conducted doctoral and postdoctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), UC San Diego, on sediment carbon stocks in mangrove forests in the Americas and on carbon stocks and fluxes in coastal San Diego.  

Matthew Costa

Research Technicians

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Nichos Molnar

I’m a recent graduate of the University of Chicago and current technician at the Bowen Lab. My research background is in kelp microbiology: I studied how temperature and nitrogen nutrients affected the community composition of kelp blade microbial communities. I’m broadly interested in microbial ecology and like thinking about ways to effectively visualize and tell interesting stories from data. While I’m new to salt marshes, I’m looking forward to researching the unique dynamics of microbial communities and their interactions with Spartina alterniflora, both as a part of the Simons CMarsh project and on other projects taking place in the Bowen Lab. I previously worked for the Fisheries Observer Program and love spending time on the water.

Undergraduate students


Camille Kroot
I am a third-year undergraduate majoring in environmental and sustainability sciences with a concentration in earth, oceans, and environmental change. Broadly, I am interested in salt marshes and how they react to changing environmental conditions in the face of climate change. Currently, I help with research involving how different nitrogen inputs affect natural cycles in salt marshes. I am excited to expand my knowledge in a field and lab setting as well as explore different areas of research.

Luke Bagdonas

I’m an undergraduate chemistry major in the Bowen Lab. I help assist with research focusing on how different forms of nitrogen affect the biogeochemistry and carbon cycling of salt marsh ecosystems. While working here I hope to expand my knowledge of environmental chemistry and gain new skills both in the field and laboratory which I don’t normally experience in my degree track.


Shay Roberts

I am an undergraduate marine biology major and I am on co-op in the Bowen Lab. I am interested in wetland conservation and in research that informs policy making to protect important ecosystems. Presently, I am helping with the Not all Nitrogen project to study how various nitrogen additions impact salt marshes. So far on my co-op I have developed fieldwork skills and expanded my knowledge of molecular biology techniques and sample processing. My goals for the remainder of my co-op are to learn more about data analysis, coding, and putting together an effective presentation. 


Haley Nickel

I’m a current undergraduate student studying marine biology and data science! With strong interests in genetics, microbial ecology, and environmental chemistry, I am passionate about applying my background in data science and science communication toward meaningful research aiming to conserve critical coastal ecosystems. A former Bowen lab co-op, I’m back for the summer and will be working on characterizing the microbiome of the Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium in response to various antiparasitic treatments. 

Former graduate students and postdocs

Joe Vineis

Currently a postdoc at Princeton

Currently at Clearwater Aquarium

Kerry McNally

Andrea Unzueta Martinez

Currently a postdoc at Harvard

John Angell (PhD)

Currently at University of S. Florida

Annie Murphy

Currently a Senior Scientist  at Inspire Environmental

Currently a post-doc at UNH

Ashley Bulseco (PhD)

Patrick Kearns (PhD)

Currently a research professor at UMass Boston

Sarah Feinman (PhD)

Currently at the Great Bay NERR

Kenly Hiller (PhD)

Currently an analyst at Tessella

Former undergrads

NSF Funded REUs

Northeastern University Interns/Honors/Co-op students

UMass Undergraduate Honors students

Alexandra Figueroa ()

Katie Conese (2019; Notre Dame) 
Ross Ackerman (2017; Bates College)

Helen Hoyt (2016; Carleton College)
Taylor Matthew (2016; Wesleyan University)
Rachel Vincent (2015; U. Massachusetts Boston)
Andrea Unzueta Martinez (2015; University of Hawaii)
Dakota Holloway (2014; Washington and Jefferson)
Jonathan Bauer (2014; Central Connecticut State)
Abigail Tyrell (2013; Tufts University)
Collin Knauss (2012; Colorado College)
Codi Leitner (2012; Wesleyan University)
Snezhana Sharipova (2012; U. Massachusetts Boston) 
Patrick Kearns (2011; U. Massachusetts Boston)

Michelle Jimenez (2011; Brown University)

Haley Nickel (2022)

Phoebe Lettington (2022)

Julia Feldman (2022)

Pauline Lim (2022)

Liam McCoart (2022)

Justine Canna (2021)

Julia Holtzer (2020)

Abigail Eilar (2020)

Heather Welch (2019)

Sean Osborne (2018)

Emma Riccardi (2018)

Itxaso Garay (2017)

Rachel Vincent (2016)

Pablo Joshua Aguirre (2016)

Khang Tran (2016)

Ian Craick (2015)

Yuna Farah (2015)

Samantha Brown (2014)

Jennifer Yu (2014)

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