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Elizabeth Burke Watson, PhD

Elizabeth Watson, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science
Senior Scientist, Patrick Center for Environmental Research, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science
Office: 318 Patrick Center, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Phone: 215.299.1109

Additional Sites:

Google Scholar Profile
Coastal Change Lab


  • Post-doc, Geology Department, CICESE, Ensenada, México, 2008-2009
  • Post-doc, Land Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, 2007-2008
  • PhD, Geography, University of California, Berkeley, 2006
  • MS, Geography, University of California, Berkeley, 2003
  • BA, Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2000
  • AA, Liberal Studies, Mission College, 1998

Research Interests:

Elizabeth Watson is an associate professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Sciences, with a joint appointment as a Senior Scientist in the Patrick Center for Environmental Research at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Watson's research focuses on the impact of climate and anthropogenic change to coastal watersheds and habitats to promote informed management and conservation. Watson is best known for drawing attention to rapid loss of coastal wetlands occurring in Southern New England, consistent with the symptoms of accelerated sea level rise. Together with other scientists and communicators, Watson participated in a series of meetings for managers, scientists, and the interested public, and helped coordinate special issues in the Narragansett Bay Journal, and Estuaries and Coasts. These efforts shifted the approach to coastal conservation in Southern New England, where the focus is now more strongly on coastal climate change adaptation.

Watson is the coordinator for a university-wide minor in climate change, and cares about preparing students to confront the challenges brought by climate change, and to overcome their ecological anxiety. As a scientist who has studied the impacts of climate change to coastal areas since 2000, climate change touched her family in 2017 where her family and collaborators were affected by severe fires as well as Hurricane Maria. Since that time, Watson has worked to include a more explicit focus on people in her work to address impacts of climate change to coastal areas, such as community-engaged research projects, public facing outreach, and community organizing.

Selected Publications:

  • Krause, J.R., A. Hinojosa Corona, A.B. Gray, J.C. Herguera, J. McDonnell, M.V. Schaefer, S.C. Ying, and E.B. Watson. 2022. Beyond habitat boundaries: organic matter cycling requires a system-wide approach for accurate blue carbon accounting. Limnology and Oceanography.
  • Weis, J.S., E.B. Watson, B. Ravit, C. Harman, and M. Yepsen. 2021. The status and future of tidal marshes in New Jersey faced with sea level rise. Anthropocene Coasts 4(1):168-92.
  • Powell, E., Krause, J.R., Martin, R.R., and E.B. Watson. 2020. Pond excavation reduces coastal wetland carbon dioxide assimilation. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences 125(2) e2019JG005187. 10.1029/2019JG005187
  • Watson, E.B., C. Wigand, E.W. Davey, H.M. Andrews*, J. Bishop*, and K.B. Raposa. 2017. Wetland loss patterns and inundation-productivity relations prognosticate widespread salt marsh loss for southern New England. Estuaries and Coasts 40: 662-681