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Female scientist stands in front of a wetland with trees and leaves in the background

Emily "Molly" Roberts, PhD.

Research Quantitative Ecologist (Affiliate)
Ecosystem Dynamics and Assessment Branch
Ecosystems & Aquaculture Division
Email: emily.roberts@noaa.gov

Emily "Molly" Roberts, PhD.

Research Quantitative Ecologist (Affiliate)


  • 2019 Ph.D. Biology – University of Washington
  • 2012 M.S. Professional Masters in Marine Biology – Three Seas Program, Northeastern University
  • 2008 B.A. Individual Major in Biophysics – Oberlin College

Professional History:

  • September 2020 – Present: Postdoctoral Fellow at the Milford NOAA Laboratory
  • 2019 – 2020: Postdoctoral Researcher and Visiting Assistant Professor at the Claremont Colleges
  • 2014 – 2019: Graduate Researcher and Teaching Assistant at the University of Washington
  • 2012 – 2014: Ocean Acidification Technician at the University of Washington


Dr. Emily “Molly” Roberts is interested in spatial and temporal patterns of environmental conditions and how these conditions affect the growth and survival of marine animals and seaweeds. Marine molluscs, such as clams and other bivalves, are a staple of New England cuisine and produce many types of shells found on New England beaches. Clams and other marine bivalves feed on algae, microbes, and other organic matter in the seawater, removing nutrients and providing an important ecosystem service to our local coastal communities.

An important question in marine biology is how CO2 pollution in our atmosphere from fossil fuel use will affect marine species. In addition to causing global warming, excess CO2 in the atmosphere dissolves into seawater, changing its pH - this phenomenon is called ocean acidification. One consequence of ocean acidification is that it makes it more ‘costly’ in terms of energy for marine animals to build shells.

Recent lab experiments have shown that the Atlantic surfclam, a.k.a. the sea clam, is more sensitive than some of the other local bivalve species to ocean acidification, and this information has been used to develop a model to predict growth based on environmental data. It is not clear, however, if these lab-based predictions of growth will translate to measured growth rates in the field. As a postdoctoral associate at Milford, Molly will use a combination of lab-based growth models and environmental monitoring to evaluate model predictions of growth in the field. This work will allow us to test our understanding of the extent to which ocean acidification and other environmental factors may modify growth of marine molluscs in the field. She will work with two subpopulations of the same surfclam species found primarily North and South of Cape Cod and evaluate whether local population and/or environmental conditions affect their growth in the field.

Find out more about Molly’s work on ResearchGate, Github, and Linkedin.