Dr. Lora Harris

     Dr. Harris is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, based at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. She is an estuarine ecologist who applies field and modeling approaches to address important questions regarding nutrient dynamics, primary production and ecosystem structure and function in a range of estuarine ecosystems. She is especially interested in how climate and management actions interact to affect water quality characteristics in estuaries and lagoons. Some of her most recent work involves collaboration with engineers to understand the restoration trajectories of hypoxic estuaries, and the contribution of wastewater to estuarine receiving waters. Dr. Harris works closely with state and regional agencies in both a research and advisory capacity.  She is committed to efforts that increase diversity in the geosciences as a founding principal investigator of Centro Tortuga, an institutional collaboration based in Puerto Rico that is focused on exposing first year undergraduates to the marine sciences. Dr. Harris is committed to community engagement in her work, and takes just as much satisfaction in talking about water quality to a Board of County Commissioners as she does in giving a talk at a scientific conference. She received her B.S. from Smith College and her Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island.  Dr. Harris moved to her faculty position in Maryland following a postdoctoral position at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.

Current Students

AIMEE NEELEY  Ph.D. Candidate
Aimee’s research is focused on the underlying mechanisms that influence phytoplankton community dynamics in the Chukchi Sea, a shallow sea that lies between the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. She is also evaluating the application of satellite algorithms to monitor changes phytoplankton community composition and phenology in response to Arctic warming and sea ice loss.

JUAN ALVAREZ  M.S. Candidate
Juan is studying ecological drivers in bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico.  He is interested in understanding how the glowing alga grows and reacts to different conditions.  The strength of the luminescence changes through out the year, but the drivers of this change are not well understood. Juan hopes that his research can inform management and policy for the tourism industry that benefits from this unique species.

MELISSA DAY  M.S. Candidate
Melissa’s research involves the measurement of sediment nitrogen fluxes with a focus on denitrification rates in freshwater and saltwater wetlands along Parkers Creek, a sub-estuary to the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, Maryland.  Her goal is to calculate a nitrogen budget for the creek, to quantify the role of tidal wetlands in mitigating nitrogen loads to the Chesapeake Bay.

Kevin is building a high-resolution computer model that captures the various physical, ecological, and chemical processes that occur on restored oyster reefs.  This model will be used to assess the ability of restored oyster reefs to remove nitrogen from the overlying water column, as well as improve overall water quality.          

Isabel Sánchez-Viruet  M.S. Candidate Isabel is focusing on floating wetlands and their potential for nitrogen removal on mesohaline water of the Chesapeake Bay. The goal of this experiment is to provide well-constrained estimates of nitrogen uptake by floating wetlands and provide information about how floating wetlands can help mitigate the effects of nitrogen pollution.

Current Staff

MINDY FORSYTH  Faculty Research Assistant

M.S. Environmental Science, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL)

B.S. Environmental Science, Virginia Tech

ERIN REILLY Faculty Research Assistant

M.S. Sustainable Environmental Resource Management, University of Malta 

M.S. Integrated Science and Technology, James Madison University

B.S. Biology & Marine Science, University of Miami

Harris Lab Alumni

Amanda Moore
Research Technician

Curtis Szewczyk
Research Technician

Zachary Gotthardt
Master of Science

Emma Dodsworth
Research Technician

Jessica Foley
Master of Science

Casey Hodgkins
Faculty Research Assistant

Virginia Clark
Master of Science

Jennifer Bryan
Master of Science

Jake Kames
Research Technician
2012 - 2014

Matt Taylor
Research Technician

Meghann Niesen
Master of Science

Nengwang Chen
Visiting Scientist

Katherine Davis
Master of Science

Eric Long
Research Technician
2011 - 2012

Jennifer Humphrey
Research Technician

Annie Lerch
Research Technician
2009 - 2011

Deanna Hanks
Faculty Research Assistant
2008 - 2010


Olivia Lopez - 2019
Brooke Iancone - 2017
Alexia Rodriguez - 2016
Peter Han - 2015
Jade Bowins - 2013
Yasiel Figueroa - 2012
Hilary Staver - 2011
Emily Gravens - 2011
Kelly Rooker - 2010
Laura Almodovar Acevedo - 2009
Keala Sato Cummings - 2008


Issac Boone - 2019