Robert Warren Howarth

David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology


I am a biogeochemist and ecosystem scientist, an active research scientist who also enjoys teaching and is deeply involved in the environmental management and policy communities in the State, nationally, and internationally. My training was in oceanography, and much of my research still focuses on coastal marine ecosystems. However, I also work on freshwater systems (both rivers and lakes) and on large river basins. I teach a variety of courses at Cornell including: BioEE 1610 Ecology and the Environment, and BioEE 6680 Principles of Biogeochemistry.

Research Focus

My research laboratory works broadly on human alteration of element cycles (particularly nutrients) in coastal marine ecosystems and in the watersheds that feed them. We also work on the environmental consequences of energy systems, particularly from oil and gas development and from biofuels, emphasizing water quality and greenhouse gas emissions. Specific current topics of study include: 1) the biogeochemical feedbacks which may either aggravate or partially ameliorate eutrophication that occurs in seagrass-dominated systems as nutrient loads increase: 2) the influences of climate change, land use, and management practices on the export of nutrients and sediment from large river basins; 3) the importance of dry deposition of nitrogen gases from the atmosphere (particularly in the near proximity of vehicle emissions) as a source of nutrient pollution to coastal waters; 4) the environmental consequences of biofuels; 5) the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas extracted from shale formations such as the Marcellus shale.


For a current publications list, visit our lab website.


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Courses - Fall 2022