Emily S. Bernhardt

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor

Ffsc 3313, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0000
(919) 660-7318
I am an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist whose research is principally concerned with tracking the movement of elements through ecological systems. My research aims to document the extent to which the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems is being altered by land use change (urbanization, agriculture, mining) global change (rising CO2, rising sea levels) and chemical pollution. Ultimately this information is necessary to determine whether and how ecosystem change can be mitigated or prevented through active ecosystem management.


  • Ph.D., Cornell University 2001

  • B.S., University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 1996

Schlesinger, W. H., and Emily S. Bernhardt. Biogeochemistry An Analysis of Global Change. Academic Press, 2020.

Tockner, K., E. S. Bernhardt, A. Koska, and C. Zarfl. “A Global View on Future Major Water Engineering Projects.” In Water Resources Development and Management, 47–64, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-18971-0_4. Full Text

Ross, M. R. V., E. S. Bernhardt, M. W. Doyle, and J. B. Heffernan. “Designer Ecosystems: Incorporating Design Approaches into Applied Ecology,” 40:419–43, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-121012-100957. Full Text

Gerson, Jacqueline R., Simon N. Topp, Claudia M. Vega, John R. Gardner, Xiao Yang, Luis E. Fernandez, Emily S. Bernhardt, and Tamlin M. Pavelsky. “Artificial lake expansion amplifies mercury pollution from gold mining.Science Advances 6, no. 48 (November 27, 2020). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abd4953. Full Text

Gerson, J. R., L. C. Naslund, Y. T. Liu, H. Hsu-Kim, C. T. Driscoll, M. R. V. Ross, M. N. Waters, and E. S. Bernhardt. “Mercury and selenium loading in mountaintop mining impacted alkaline streams and riparian food webs.” Biogeochemistry 150, no. 1 (August 1, 2020): 109–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-020-00690-7. Full Text

Gerson, Jacqueline R., David M. Walters, Collin A. Eagles-Smith, Emily S. Bernhardt, and Jessica E. Brandt. “Do Two Wrongs Make a Right? Persistent Uncertainties Regarding Environmental Selenium-Mercury Interactions.Environmental Science & Technology 54, no. 15 (August 2020): 9228–34. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c01894. Full Text

Perrotta, Brittany G., Marie Simonin, Jeffrey A. Back, Steven M. Anderson, Astrid Avellan, Christina M. Bergemann, Benjamin T. Castellon, et al. “Copper and Gold Nanoparticles Increase Nutrient Excretion Rates of Primary Consumers.Environmental Science & Technology 54, no. 16 (August 2020): 10170–80. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c02197. Full Text

Naslund, Laura C., Jacqueline R. Gerson, Alexander C. Brooks, David M. Walters, and Emily S. Bernhardt. “Contaminant Subsidies to Riparian Food Webs in Appalachian Streams Impacted by Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining.Environmental Science & Technology 54, no. 7 (April 2020): 3951–59. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b05907. Full Text

Rocca, Jennifer D., Marie Simonin, Emily S. Bernhardt, Alex D. Washburne, and Justin P. Wright. “Rare microbial taxa emerge when communities collide: freshwater and marine microbiome responses to experimental mixing.Ecology 101, no. 3 (March 2020): e02956. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2956. Full Text

Avellan, Astrid, Marie Simonin, Steven M. Anderson, Nicholas K. Geitner, Nathan Bossa, Eleanor Spielman-Sun, Emily S. Bernhardt, et al. “Differential Reactivity of Copper- and Gold-Based Nanomaterials Controls Their Seasonal Biogeochemical Cycling and Fate in a Freshwater Wetland Mesocosm.Environmental Science & Technology 54, no. 3 (February 2020): 1533–44. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b05097. Full Text

Ury, Emily A., Steven M. Anderson, Robert K. Peet, Emily S. Bernhardt, and Justin P. Wright. “Succession, regression and loss: does evidence of saltwater exposure explain recent changes in the tree communities of North Carolina's Coastal Plain?Annals of Botany 125, no. 2 (February 2020): 255–64. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcz039. Full Text

Geitner, N. K., C. Ogilvie Hendren, G. Cornelis, R. Kaegi, J. R. Lead, G. V. Lowry, I. Lynch, et al. “Harmonizing across environmental nanomaterial testing media for increased comparability of nanomaterial datasets.” Environmental Science: Nano 7, no. 1 (January 1, 2020): 13–36. https://doi.org/10.1039/c9en00448c. Full Text

Bier, R. L., J. J. Wernegreen, R. J. Vilgalys, J. C. Ellis, and E. S. Bernhardt. “Subsidized or stressed? Shifts in freshwater benthic microbial metagenomics along a gradient of alkaline coal mine drainage.” Limnology and Oceanography 65, no. S1 (January 1, 2020): S277–92. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11301. Full Text


Gorka, Danielle E., Jonathan Litvak Jeger, Hongbo Zhang, Yanwen Ma, Benjamin P. Colman, Emily S. Bernhardt, and Jie Liu. “Phytotoxicity of soluble graphitic nanofibers to model plant species.” In Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 35:2941–47, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.3478. Full Text

Anciaux, Sarah K., Benjamin P. Colman, Emily S. Bernhardt, Justin Wright, and Bonny McGill. “Investigation of the bioaccumulation of silver nanoparticles.” In Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 241. AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2011.

Phillips, Richard P., Adrien Finzi, and Emily Bernhardt. “Biogeochemical consequences of changes in root-derived carbon inputs to soil in a forest exposed to CO2 enrichment.” In Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 74:A815–A815. PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2010.

Aber, J. D., E. S. Bernhardt, F. A. Dijkstra, R. H. Gardner, K. H. Macneale, W. J. Parton, S. T. A. Pickett, D. L. Urban, and K. C. Weathers. “Standards of practice for review and publication of models: Summary of discussion.” In Models in Ecosystem Science, edited by C. D. Canham, J. J. Cole, and W. K. Lauenroth, 204–10. PRINCETON UNIV PRESS, 2003.

Selected Grants

Collaborative Research: MRA: MACRO-Sheds: Comparative Ecosystem Biogeochemistry at Continental Scales awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2024

LTREB: Streams to Screens: Bringing the Hubbard Brook Watershed Ecosystem Record (HB-WatER) into the 21st Century awarded by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2024

Macrosystems, Collaborative Research: Defining Stream Biomes Beyond the Steady State awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2021

Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology awarded by National Science Foundation (Investigator). 2008 to 2021

Community Coalescence: Disentangling Assembly Processes using Aquatic Microbial Communities awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2021

Mountain top mining effects on watershed hydrology and biogeochemistry awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2019

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Will Ecosystem Recovery From Acid Precipitation Jeopardize Soil Carbon Storage? awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019

RCN: Smart Civic Engagement in Rapidly Urbanizing Regions awarded by North Carolina State University (Principal Investigator). 2018