Sarah J. Nelson

Associate Research Professor, Senator George J. Mitchell Center; Cooperating Assistant Research Professor in Watershed Biogeochemistry, School of Forest Resources

247 Nutting Hall


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Ph.D., Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine

M.S., Ecology and Environmental Sciences – Water Resources, University of Maine

B.A., Columbia University

My research focuses on understanding the effects of atmospheric pollution and climate change on forests, foodwebs, and freshwaters in remote and protected ecosystems. One of my signature programs is the Dragonfly Mercury Project which engages citizen scientists in collection of dragonfly larvae for mercury analysis in national parks, allowing for national-scale assessment of this neurotoxic pollutant.


I am the UMaine lead PI for US EPA’s Long Term Monitoring (LTM) Network [], which is aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990. This project includes lakes that have been sampled since 1982 as well as specialized lake sets (e.g., high-elevation lakes) that serve as sentinel sites for environmental change. I also work on research at the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine [], where effects of experimental acidification and recovery are under study.


I participate in a set of projects focused on changing winters in Maine and beyond []. We are to developing indicators of changing winter conditions across northeastern North America, identifying unique winter weather events, and coordinating research across Maine on winter processes. All of these projects involve stakeholder inputs or link with social and economic effects of changing winters.


For about a decade, I have worked with high school teachers and Schoodic Institute [] at Acadia National Park in a series of projects focused on teacher professional development regarding mercury in watersheds, snowpack and climate, and data literacy.