Brian Helmuth

Professor Email: Phone: 781.581.7370 ext 307


Post Doctoral Researcher, 1997-1999, Stanford University, Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, California (Mark Denny, supervisor)
Ph.D, 1997, University of Washington; Zoology (Thomas Daniel, PhD supervisor)
M.S., 1991, Northeastern University; Biology (Marine Biology; Kenneth Sebens, MS supervisor)
B.S., 1989, Cornell University; Biology (Ecology and Evolution; C. Drew Harvell, research supervisor)

Area(s) of Expertise

Environmental Policy; Ecological Forecasting; Sustainability

Research Interests

My research explores the effects of climate and climate change on the physiology and ecology of marine organisms. Specifically, I use thermal engineering techniques, including a combination of field work, remote sensing and mathematical modeling, to explore the ways in which the environment determines the body temperatures of coastal marine animals such as mussels and seastars. Combined with energetics models, this approach provides a quantitative method of mapping patterns of growth, reproduction, and survival in economically and ecologically important coastal species.   A major goal of this approach (funded by NASA and NSF) is to inform decision makers with scientifically accurate and useful forecasts.  While much of my work has focused on North American rocky intertidal ecosystems, my lab also collaborates with researchers in Adelaide and Melbourne, AustraliaChileChina; Hong Kong; Italy; South Africa; and the U.K.

Our work has shown some surprising results, and has suggested that our expectations of where to look for the effects of climate change in nature can be more complex than previously anticipated. For example, our research has shown that along the Pacific coast of the U.S., animal temperatures at sites in Oregon and Washington can be as hot or hotter than sites much farther to the south in California, due to the complex interaction of climate and tides in the region. As a result, we should not necessarily expect to see mortality at the southern ends of species range boundaries, but also at these hot spots. This complexity suggests that unless we know where and when to look for impacts of climate change, many early impacts could go unnoticed.

My lab group regularly includes K-12 teachers in our research, and I am actively involved in the ongoing National Climate Assessment.

Lab Website


Prof. Helmuth is a joint appointment between the College of Science and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.


Marine Science Center
430 Nahant Rd
Nahant, MA 01908

3Qs: Why time is now to link science, ocean policy

Northeastern professor Brian Helmuth, an expert on climate change and environmental policy, has co-authored a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change examining the need to further integrate science into U.S. climate and ocean policy.

Nature Climate Change publishes MES faculty’s paper

Marine and Environmental Sciences professor Brian Helmuth co-authors a paper about US climate and ocean policy.

Live from the seafloor, it’s Mission 31!

Last week, Northeastern researchers were joined by Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Stephen W. Director to converse with audience members at the Boston Museum of Science from a unique vantage point: the bottom of the ocean at the Aquarius Reef Base off Florida’s coast.

Take 5: A ‘Nor’Easter’ on Florida’s tropical shores?

For the next two weeks fac­ulty, stu­dents, and staff from North­eastern University’s Urban Coastal Sus­tain­ability Ini­tia­tive and led by pro­fes­sors Mark Pat­terson and Brian Hel­muth are taking part in Mis­sion 31.

Researchers soak up data from Mission 31

As part of a month-long underwater research mission, graduate student Allison Matzelle will lead a project studying the flow of energy through one of the oldest organisms in the world: the giant barrel sponge.

Members of Congress visit Marine Science Center

The squirming claws of a blue lob­ster did not deter U.S. Reps. John Tierney and Katherine Clark from get­ting their hands dirty—and soaked—as they eagerly exam­ined the rare species on Wednesday at Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence Center in Nahant, Massachusetts.

A cold, snowy winter doesn’t mean climate change isn’t real

As we get ready to face another winter storm, and are still warming up from a frigid January, there are plenty of people questioning the validity of climate change.

The global water crisis

Less than 0.1 per­cent of the planet’s water is avail­able for safe use, and chal­lenges cen­tered on H2O form the nexus of some of society’s most pressing envi­ron­mental issues.

Communicating climate change

Brian Helmuth’s work was recently featured in International innovation.