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Stephen MacAvoy

Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Science

  • Additional Positions at AU

    Graduate Program Advisor, Department of Environmental Science
  • Working in biogeochemistry and ecology, Stephen E. MacAvoy has been particularly interested in areas where marine and freshwater systems interface such as those that appear in tidal aquatic environments. He studies how nutrients flow through and are utilized by aquatic ecosystem components. He has recently published in several interdisciplinary research journals, such as Marine Ecology Progress Series, Biogeochemistry, The Journal of Shellfish Research and Fisheries Bulletin. He is currently conducting research on the origin and fate of organic material in the Anacostia River, Washington DC and also developing models that describe how organisms incorporate nutrients and the importance of metabolism in this process.
  • Degrees

    PhD, Environmental Science, University of Virginia
    MS, Environmental Science, University of Virginia
    BS, Biology, Fairfield University

  • CAS - Environmental Science
  • Beeghly - 312
  • M 1:00-5:00PM

  • (202) 885-3003 (Office)
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  • To request an interview for a
    news story, call AU Communications
    at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Partnerships & Affiliations

  • American Fisheries Society

    Member (1994-1995, 2001-2002)

  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

    Member (1997-1999)

  • American Geophysical Union

    Member (1998-present)


  • Fall 2014

    • HNRS-200 Honors Inquiry I: Climate Chng Sci/Politics/Pol
    • Description

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

I am currently involved in examining where and how organics in the Anacostia River (Washington DC) originate and are transformed. I am also working on models that can describe how organisms incorporate nutrients of different quality and how that is related to metabolic rate. For many years now I have been interested in the role of migrating river herring as marine nutrient vectors to freshwater systems.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Outstanding Teaching Award: Biology Department, American University (ENVS 581 Environmental Science II), Fall 2008 (for Spring 2008 term)
  • Outstanding Teaching Award: Biology Department, American University (BIO 240 Oceanography), Fall 2008 (for Spring 2008 term)
  • Outstanding Teaching Award: Biology Department, American University (BIO 396/696; Environmental Geology), Spring 2008 (for Fall 2007 term
  • Outstanding Teaching Award: Biology Department, American University (BIO 499; Senior Seminar, Fall 2005 (for Spring 2005 term)
  • Trout Unlimited Award: For outstanding contributions to cold water fisheries research.

Professional Presentations

  • 2/14/07 American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA" Biogeochemical snapshot of an urban water system: The Anacostia River, Washington DC" S.E. MacAvoy*, E. Ewers, and KL Bushaw-Newton
  • 9/5/06 University of Virginia, Department of Environmental Science, "Exploring the Deep-sea communities of the Gulf of Mexico"
  • 4/21/06 Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for Environmental Studies, Rice Collaborators Group. "Anadromous fish as nutrient vectors to tidal freshwater: seasonal pulse utilized by primary producers and consumers"
  • 10/5/04 Fairfield University, Environmental Studies Program, Seminar Series (honorarium). "Mysteries of the Deep Ocean: Life Without Light"
  • 10/12/01 Georgetown University, Biology Department (honorarium) “Life without light: Exploring the trophic interactions among chemosynthetic and heterotrophic fauna in the Gulf of Mexico”

Work In Progress

  • MacAvoy SE, Ewers E, Bushaw-Newton K. in review. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. A Biogeochemical Survey of the Anacostia River, Washington DC.E
  • Eushaw-Newton KL, Ewers E, C. S. Fortunato CS, Ashley JT, D. Velinsky DJ, SE MacAvoy. Microbial diversity snapshots from sediments of the Anacostia River. in prep for Applied Microbiololgy

Selected Publications

  • MacAvoy SE, Garman GC, Macko SA. accepted 9/29/08. Anadromous fish as marine nutrient vectors: an analysis of freshwater fish guilds using carbon, nitrogen, sulfur stable isotopes and d13C of specific fatty acids. Fisheries Bulletin.
  • MacAvoy SE, Morgan E, Carney RS, Macko SA. 2008. Chemoautolithotrophic production as a fuel for heterotrophs in hydrocarbon seeps: an examination of mobile benthic fauna and seep residents. Journal of Shellfish Research 27(1), 153-161
  • Tarboush, R. A., MacAvoy, S. E., & Macko, S. A. (2006). Contribution of catabolic tissue replacement to the turnover of stable Isotopes in Danio rerio. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 84, 1453-1460.
  • Arneson, L. S., MacAvoy, S., & Basset, E. (2006). Metabolic protein replacement drives tissue turnover in adult mice. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 84, 983-993.
  • MacAvoy, S. E., Arneson, L. S., & Bassett, E. (2006). Correlation of metabolism with tissue carbon and nitrogen turnover rate in small mammals. Oecologia, 150, 190-201.
  • Weston, N. B., Porubsky, W. P., Samarkin, V. A., Erickson, M., MacAvoy, S. E., & Joye, S. B. (2006). Porewater stoichiometry of terminal metabolic products, sulfate, and dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen in estuarine intertidal creek-bank sediments. Biogeochemistry, 77, 375-408.
  • MacAvoy, S. E., Macko, S. A., & Arneson, L. S. (2005). Growth versus metabolic tissue replacement in mouse tissues determined by stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 83, 631-641.
  • MacAvoy, S. E., Fisher, C. R., Carney, R. S., & Macko, S. A. (2005). Nutritional associations among fauna at hydrocarbon seep communities in the Gulf of Mexico. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 292, 51-60.

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Cave Conservancy of Virginia: 2007/08. Metabolic Differences between Surface and Cave Amphipods: The Evolution of Life Style Differences. Award amount $10,000.
  • Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI)  2008/09. Assessing the distribution of synthetic organics and the degradation of polyaromatic hydrocarbons in the Anacostia river through microbial and stable isotope studies (co-PI with Prof. Bushaw-Newton). Award amount $15,000.
  • Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI)  2006/07. Nutrient flow and biological dynamics in the Anacostia River (CO-PI with Karen Bushaw Newton). Award amount $15,000.
  • American University Mellon Grant:  2006. Marine nutrient contributions to two tidal creeks in Virginia: spawning marine fish as nutrient vectors to freshwater ecosystems. Award amount $2,000

Media Appearances

  • FOX NEWS CHANNEL 5, WTTG TV, 9/18/2006. Fish used to detect attacks on water supply
  • National Public Radio, Morning edition. 10/2/2006.  Interview about snakehead catfish in the DC area.

AU News and Achievements