Judith McDowell, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
193 Oyster Pond Road, CRL 213
City, State, Zip
Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543-1525
Award Year


Project Details

McDowell used her Pew Fellowship to examine the interactive effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors, such as toxic chemical contaminants, on coastal shellfish populations. She completed a comparison between two species of bivalve molluscs from contaminated habitats in the Northeastern United States and has begun to compile a data-base on contaminant effects in similar bivalve species from contaminated habitats in other temperate regions of the world.

Immediate results of McDowell's research have supported the application of demographic modeling to management decisions in contaminated areas of Boston Harbor/Massachusetts Bay and New Bedford Harbor, and a better understanding of species comparison in restoring shellfish habitat.


Judith McDowell conducts research programs on the adaptations of marine animals to naturally fluctuating conditions and environmental disturbances. Some of her major research accomplishments include the elucidation of nutritional and bioenergetic requirements in the development and reproduction of marine animals, the elucidation of physiological responses of marine animals to environmental perturbations, and identification of the relationship between bioaccumulation of lipophilic organic contaminants and physiological responses in marine animals.

McDowell's research has led her on expeditions throughout the world and one of her current projects is examining the relationship of contaminant exposure and disease processes in bivalve mollusk populations in contaminated estuaries and bays in the United States, Eastern Europe and several areas within the former Soviet Union.

McDowell also holds the positions of coordinator of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Sea Grant Program and associate dean of the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography.


WHOI Sea Grant Program

American Society of Limnology and Oceanography



Ph.D., University of New Hampshire
1974: Zoology, New Hampshire, USA

Masters of Science, University of New Hampshire
1971: Zoology, New Hampshire, USA

Bachelor of Science, Stonehill College
1969: Biology, Massachusetts, USA


Commonwealth of Massachusetts
2003: Ocean Management Task Force

National Research Council
1999-2002: Committee on Oil in the Sea: Input, Fates and Effects

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Marine Science Advisory Committee
1993-1997: Member

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee
1985-1991: Member

U.S. EPA Buzzards Bay Project, Techincal Advisory Committee
1985-1987: Chair

Committee to Review the Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Studies Program, Ecology Panel


Marine Fellow
1995: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment

U.S. EPA Environmental Merit Award

Local Hero
1985: New England Monthly


  • McDowell, J.E., B.A. Lancaster, D.F. Leavitt, P. Rantamaki, and B. Ripley. 1999. The effect of lipophilic organic contaminants on reproductive physiology and disease processes in marine bivalve molluscs. Limnology and Oceanography, Special Issue - Multiple Stressors in Aquatic Environment 44:903-909
  • McDowell, J. 1997. Contaminant effects in soft shell clams. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Annual Report, page 12
  • McDowell-Capuzzo, J. 1994. The bioaccumulation and biological effects of lipophilic organic contaminants in oysters. In: The Eastern Oyster (A. Eble, V.S. Kennedy, R.I.E. Newell and V. Kennedy eds.). Maryland Sea Grant Publication
  • Conway, N.M. and J. McDowell-Capuzzo. 1991. Incorporation and utilization of bacterial lipids by the Solemya velum symbiosis. Marine Biology 108:277-291
  • Leavitt, D.F., B.A. Lancaster, A.S. Lancaster and J. McDowell Capuzzo. 1990. Changes in the biochemical composition of a subtropical bivalve, Arca zebra, in response to contaminant gradients in Bermuda. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 138:85-98
  • Leavitt, D.F., J. McDowell Capuzzo, D. Miosky, R. Smolowitz, B.A. Lancaster and C.L. Reinisch. 1990. Incidence of hematopoietic neoplasia in Mya arenaria : Monthly monitoring of prevalence and indices of physiological condition. Marine Biology 105:313-321
  • Conway, N.M., J. McDowell Capuzzo and B. Fry. 1989. The role of endosymbiotic bacteria in the nutrition of Solemya velum : Evidence from a stable isotope analysis of endosymbionts and host. Limnology and Oceanography 34:249-255
  • Capuzzo, J. McDowell.. 1987. Biological effects of petroleum hydrocarbons: Assessments from experimental results. (D.F. Boesch and N.N. Rabalais eds.). Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, p. 343-410
Fellow Keywords