Lab Members

Assistant Professor

My research combines geospatial analyses, stable isotopes, and biogeochemical measurements  to address fundamental and applied questions relating to water quality, ecosystem restoration, and state shifts caused by nutrient pollution and climate change.   I try to attend international meetings when possible for exposure to cross cultural perspectives.

I earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in physical geography from the University of California, Berkeley, studying environmental change in central California wetlands using a combination of re-surveys, remote sensing, and paleoecological analyses.  I completed post-doctoral research positions at the University of California, Davis in hydrology and at CICESE, a post-graduate research institution in Baja California, in remote sensing. Prior to Drexel University, I worked as a research scientist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and for the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Outside of my life as a scientist, I spend most of my time mothering my children, being outdoors, traveling, and agitating for policies that protect vulnerable populations and the environment.


I study hydrologic processes, sediment-water interactions, and trace element cycling in lotic and lentic ecosystems. I am also interested in technical measures required to resolve issues related to water resource management due to changes in hydrology. This includes development of conceptual and mathematical models to address water quality issues in rivers and estuaries. I have expertise working at different climatic regimes. In Nepal, I have studied lakes and rivers, while my recent research in Texas and New Jersey has focused on coastal rivers and estuaries.  I earned a Ph.D. in 2014 in coastal and marine sciences from Texas A&M Corpus Christi (adviser Paul Montagna), and an M.S. in environmental sciences from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal.  I am currently teaching Introduction to Environmental Chemistry (ENVS 310) at Drexel University.

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I am interested in the change of coastal ecosystems and the services they provide, in particular salt marshes and seagrass meadows. The significant roles these systems play in the global carbon cycle, as well as for coastal fisheries and flood protection, make it eminently important to understand their dynamics, present and past. With my PhD research, I want to investigate the recent history of these systems and their services, identify drivers of change, and help to inform their future management in a changing world.

I read for a B.S. in Geoecology at the University of Tübingen, Germany, spending an exchange year at the Faculty of Marine Sciences of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. After graduating in 2014, I joined the Marine Geology lab of the University of Kiel Centre for Research and Technology Westkuste as research assistant. My research project led to the characterization of subtidal blue mussel beds in the North Sea, using side scan sonar. Subsequently, I enrolled in the M.S. Marine System Science at the University of Glasgow, UK. For my thesis I focused on calcification and photosynthesis in coralline algae in the Red Sea, Egypt, performing in situ incubation projects. After graduating in late 2015, I trained to become a European Certified Scientific Diver at the Alfred-Wegener Institute Helgoland and University of Gotenburg, Sweden.

I grew up in Hamburg, near the German Baltic and North Sea shores. My passions are Scuba diving, DJing, playing guitar, and experiencing the outdoors.

I am broadly interested in the ecology and geomorphological dynamics of coastal habitats (wetlands and forests) for the services which they provide to coastal communities. But specifically, my interests revolve around plant physiological responses to stress (particularly related to salinity or inundation) and how these responses shape plant communities through time. Most of the research I conduct is driven by the need to understand these systems for clean water and storm protection, but with a focus on their fate with sea level rise and climate change.

Before returning for my doctoral work, I graduated from Drexel with my M.S. and B.S., where I had originally been studying rare snakes in the New Jersey Pinelands. I became interested in coastal systems in 2013 when I finished an internship with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE), a local National Estuary Program. In 2014, I took a full time position as PDE’s wetland specialist, where I helped manage long term monitoring and assessment of coastal wetlands. I now work as their wetland coordinator, continuing to develop and help manage their coastal wetland program, while working on my doctoral work part time.

I’m a southern New Jerseyian, through and through. I was born and raised in Burlington County, but now reside on the family farm in Salem County. In my spare time, I enjoy trail riding with my chestnut quarter horse, Reiner. He also lives on the family farm with our other horse, a cremello named Icy, a flock of chickens, and our herd of 6 goats and 2 sheep.


I am interested in the community ecology of wetlands, particularly swamps, bogs, and estuaries. I have special interest in fungi, amphibians, botany, and the pine barrens of New Jersey. I aim to pursue research that will promote the conservation of wilderness habitat and that will help mediate the effects of climate change. As a coop in the Wetlands Section I have been studying the effect of fertilization on gas exchange and aerenchyma formation in Spartina patens and the morphometrics of the juveniles of the frog species Rana kauffeldi and Rana sphenocephala.

I am pursuing a B.S. in environmental science, with a focus on ecology, at Drexel University. Before Drexel, I attended the Community College of Philadelphia, and worked as a gardener and a bicycle mechanic. I enjoy travel, hiking, backpacking, gardening, kayaking, and most other things that involve being outside in nature, as well as reading, music, and cooking.


Ms. Rahman was a student employee of the Patrick Center for Environmental Science, Academy of Natural Sciences from April 2015 to September 2017, and has participated in coastal wetland monitoring projects and associated laboratory analysis supported by external funding. Ms. Rahman continues to work in the lab part-time, as well as towards the publication of her undergraduate thesis (Impacts of nutrient load, source, and residence time on nitrogen stable isotope ratios in estuarine soils and biota). Ms. Rahman hopes to conduct graduate research on the roles of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the decline of mangroves in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. The Sundarbans comprise the largest remaining expanse of mangroves in the world, are an iconic part of Bengali culture, and are immensely important in terms of biodiversity.

Wasson, K., R. Jeppesen, C. Endris, D.C. Perry, A. Woolfolk, K. Beheshti, M. Rodriguez, R. Eby, E.B. Watson, F.I. Rahman, J. Haskins, and B.B. Hughes. 2017. Eutrophication decreases salt marsh resilience through proliferation of algal mats. Biological Conservation 212:1-11

F.I. Rahman, E.B. Watson, J. Haskins, and A.J. Oczkowski. In Preparation. Impacts of nutrient load, source, and residence time on nitrogen stable isotope ratios in estuarine soils and biota. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Rahman, F.I., E.B. Watson, . 2016. The impact of nutrient source, nutrient loading, and tidal restrictions on the accumulation of nitrogen in estuarine sediment and biota. Poster presented at the World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Iguassu, Brazil, August 27 – September 1, 2017.

Rahman, F.I., K. Wasson, and E.B. Watson. 2016. Sediment nitrogen stable isotope ratios as an indicator of historic eutrophication trends in a California estuary. Poster presented at The New England Estuarine Research Society Fall meeting: Block Island, RI, October 20-22, 2016.

Rahman, F.I., A.M. Woolfolk, N. Maher, and E.B. Watson. 2017. High nutrient loads amplify carbon cycling across California and New York coastal wetlands. Poster presented at The Society of Wetland Scientists Annual Meeting, San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 3-6, 2017.

Rahman, F.I., Watson, E.B., A.J. Oczkowski, K. Raper, A.B. Gray, C. Wigand, and D.J. Velinsky. 2016. Impacts of episodic storms on coastal wetland processes in the Northeastern U.S. Oral Presentation at The American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, 12-16 December 2016, San Francisco, CA.

Watson, E.B., F.I. Rahman, P. Zelanko, and K. Wasson. 2016. Agricultural intensification drives decreased importance of marine upwelling as a nutrient source in a California coastal lagoon. The Atlantic Estuarine Research Society Fall Meeting: Baltimore, MD, 18-20 November, 2016.

Outreach: Participation in Camden Family Fishing Day 2016, Members Night 2016

Funding: Wentz Foundation Co-op Fellowship ($3,000), The Wetland Foundation Conference Travel Grant ($1500)


Kirk Raper is the wetlands project coordinator for the Wetland Section, The Patrick Center for Environmental Research, Academy of Natural Sciences. Mr. Raper is the lead scientist for monitoring marsh elevation change, sediment deposition and accumulation, plant distribution patterns and biomass, soil chemistry, sediment availability and nutrient concentrations in ten coastal wetlands located in Delaware and Barnegat Bays. Kirk earned an M.S. in Water Science from Murray State University in Kentucky, and a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Tennessee Technological University.


My research interests are in wetland ecology, specifically how landscape level changes can alter these systems. I am specifically interested in spatial patterns associated with these landscape level changes, geographic object-based image analysis (GEOBIA), and how the biogeochemical properties of these systems are altered. Additionally, I would like to develop a better understanding of greenhouse gas exchange in salt marshes and determine if poorly managed salt marshes sequester as much carbon as salt marshes that have been disturbed.

I am originally from San Antonio, Texas but have been living in Philadelphia for six years and cannot get enough. I am an avid runner and love to explore the city on my bicycle. I graduated from Drexel with my M.S. in Environmental Science, in 2018, and am currently working in the lab as a technician supporting the application of GEOBIA to detect disturbance and change over time in coastal wetlands in a project funded by New Jersey Sea Grant College Consortium.


Watson, E.B., E. Powell, N.P. Maher, A.J. Oczkowski, B. Paudel, A. Starke, K. Szura, and C. Wigand. 2018. Indicators of nutrient pollution in Long Island, New York, estuarine environments. Marine Environmental Research 134: 109-120.

Watson, E.B., K. Szura, E. Powell, N. Maher, and C. Wigand. 2018. Cultural eutrophication is reflected in the stable isotopic composition of the eastern mudsnail, Nassarius obsoletus. Journal of Environmental Quality 47: 177-184.

E. Powell, R.M. Martin, J.R. Krause, and E.B. Watson. In preparation.  Impacts of  disturbance to carbon sequestration in coastal wetlands. Science of the Total Environment.

Funding: Award for Coastal Wetlands Fieldwork, Garden Club of America ($4000); Society of Wetland Scientists Student Research Grant ($5000); Mid-Atlantic Region Society of Wetland Scientists Student Research Grant ($5000); Association of Women in Science Student Travel Award ($500)