Marissa McMahan

Marissa McMahan


Marissa is a PhD candidate in Northeastern University’s Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology program. Her research focuses on community ecology and fisheries biology. Currently, she is studying how the northern range expansion of black sea bass is impacting local ecology, food web dynamics and fisheries productivity in the Gulf of Maine. This study combines a variety of research methods, including modeling of life history characteristics, observing predator-prey dynamics, regional SCUBA surveys, examining socioeconomic impacts of sea bass and gathering observational and historical data from fishermen. She hopes this project will reveal how sea bass are impacting local ecology and fisheries in the Gulf of Maine, aid in stock assessment and management of sea bass and provide an overall framework of how to monitor the emergence of new species and their impacts on coastal ecosystems. In an attempt to incorporate her research into management and to identify the most pressing ecological concerns, Marissa works closely with many organizations, including the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, UMaine’s Darling Marine Center and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. Prior to beginning her PhD, Marissa received a M.S. in marine biology from the University of Maine. Her master’s thesis focused on juvenile American lobster growth in a warming climate, as well as the influence of large bodied fish predators on lobster behavior. Prior to her graduate career, Marissa held internships at both The Lobster Conservancy and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, while also working as a commercial fisherman on her father’s lobster boat. As a result of her family’s history in commercial fisheries, and her career as a scientist, Marissa strives to bridge the gap between scientists and fishermen and create collaborative partnerships between the two sectors. She is also deeply committed to public outreach and community education, and after graduate school hopes to continue working with community based groups and classrooms to promote interest and involvement with environmental issues.

Fellow at a Glance

Fellowship Year:
Academic Background:
Northeastern University, PhD
Current Position:
Ph.D candidate at Northeastern University
Coastal & Marine Issues
Currently Working On:
Studying how the northern range expansion of black sea bass is impacting local ecology, food web dynamics, and fisheries productivity in the Gulf of Maine

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