Seminars on Science
Dr. Marci Meixler


Marci Meixler grew up in a relatively rural part of New Jersey. She was lucky first that she had streams and fields to play in as a child but also that she had parents who loved to camp and an inspirational high school physical education teacher who introduced her to all types of fun outdoors activities such as rock climbing, caving, sailing, and canoeing. She resolved to more thoroughly develop her interest in the outdoors in college and that led to a major in natural resources management (with a focus on forestry) and a second bachelor's degree in statistics (just in case the job market was poor when she graduated!). However, she was in no hurry to start work after graduating and instead traveled around the United States for six months backpacking and visiting national parks all around the country. During her travels she was recruited to fill a temporary position doing aquatic ecology research in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. Little did she know that she would be staying for almost fourteen years!

Her years at Cornell University were full of interesting research opportunities in freshwater wetlands, rivers, estuaries and lakes. She studied fish populations in the Charles River in urban Massachusetts and the effects of 9-11 on the Hudson River. She studied which techniques were best to monitor wetlands in the Great Lakes and which models to use to assess water pollution in the Allegheny River. She addressed issues of water quantity and water scarcity for the Great Lakes Protection Fund and Brookhaven National Laboratory and was project manager and human impacts researcher for ecosystem studies in Great Lakes embayments, a project that attempted to understand all aspects of a complex system (biological, chemical, physical and societal/policy). Thus, her work took her to many different environments and looking at a wide variety of human disturbance.

Dr. Carvalho with a Potamotrygonidae stingray, which occur only in South American rivers. This specimen was collected on the Rio Tocantins, a tributary to the Amazon.
Marci Meixler. ©AMNH

In addition to these and other environmental issues she addressed for work, she did research for her masters degree (studying aquatic biodiversity prediction using geographic information systems modeling) and PhD which focused on exploring ways to identify areas in watersheds most in need of restoration. These projects led to partnerships with such groups as The Nature Conservancy, regional watershed organizations, research universities, and local, state and federal government (including a few international affiliates in China and Norway).

Her research at Cornell University gave her a solid foundation to branch out to other things and currently, Marci is working as a freelance independent consultant doing ecological projects for universities, non-profits and the government. She volunteers for many of the local environmental organizations teaching ecological best practices and looking for ways to bring her years of practical experience to the classroom. Her work, her volunteering and her hobbies (bike touring, backpacking, sailing, canoe camping, etc), continue to take her to interesting places and environments and she looks forward to sharing some of her enthusiasm for the outdoors and specifically her knowledge of aquatic ecology with the participants in these classes.

print version email this