Alysha B. Putnam

White woman with blonde hair, white hat, holding a small crab

PhD Candidate

A.S. Biology. Holyoke Community College

B.A. Biological Science and Environmental Science and Policy. Smith College

M.S. Biological Science. Smith College

Advisor: Michelle Staudinger

Research Interests

Hi! I'm Aly! I am broadly interested in marine intertidal systems, the organisms (invertebrates and algae) that are found in this habitat, and how issues of climate change (abiotic factors such as increased temperatures and biotic factors such as invasive species and species interactions) may alter this dynamic space. I consider myself someone who spans fundamental and applied ecology looking to answer questions for the sake of science but also to address issues of climate change in our coastal region of New England. I use a series of tools and techniques to answer scientific questions - laboratory experiments to better understand the effects of temperature on invertebrate physiology and effects on biotic interactions; field experiments such as manipulating substrate temperature to understand how increased temperature will effect settlement, survival, and community composition of sessile invertebrates and algae and field species identification and assessment to determine biodiversity and monitoring of important or emerging populations; synthesis and statistical modeling to understand historic/long term trends in abundance, predict future distributions, and assess levels of impact by invasive species. I have field sites across New England and work in spaces such as Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, and Boston Harbor. My research allows me to work with partners such as National Park Service, USGS, the Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel, and Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center.  Currently I am an NE CASC fellow, ORISE Fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey,  leadership team member of the NE RISCC , and actively participate in OEB and college wide student leadership (OEB Mentoring Committee, Spring 2023 OEB President, '23-24 ECo Mentoring program co-leader, and '23-24 Graduate Student Senate Senator). I also teach at Smith College as an instructor on record in the Biological Sciences department.


In addition to my research, I am an advocate for justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and access in STEM and STEM education. I am a first generation college student and graduate and am a community college grad, I am a disabled/differently abled person, a non traditionally aged PhD pursuant, and a mom of two kids. I'm passionate about many issues such as disability advocacy, working with various communities across UMass and have helped form the ECo Department's Disability Affinity group; women in STEM where I created the regional Pioneer Valley Women in STEM Network, have served in leadership of the UMass Graduate Women in STEM, and ran a mentoring program for women UMass graduate students and UMass alumni; issues of racism and inequalities, where I have previously chaired the Justice and Accountability committee of the IDGP DEI Committee and am currently serving on the ECo JEDIA Committee. I think it is important to be as engaged in the social aspect of what a STEM career is as the science itself in order to make it a more just, inclusive, and diverse space, which will produce better and more innovative science! 

Media/Press Features:

Field Inclusive Week 2024 Presenter: Building Accessibility Into Fieldwork - link

Nature Methods: Researchers who reach far beyond their disabilities by Vivien Marx - link

From the Margins to the Center: NE CASC Fellow Helps Dismantle Accessibility Barriers for Scientists with Disabilities by NECASC - link

Nature Communications Biology: Disability Pride Month at Communications Biology  - link

Featured online by STEM with Disabilities - link 

Speaker for Town Hall: Disability Justice in Higher Ed Presented by The Graduate Student Action Network, The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, and CalTech Division of Biology and Biological Engineering - link


Journal Publications:

Putnam A.B., S.C. Endyke , A. Jones, L.A Lockwood, J. Taylor, M. Albert, M.D. Staudinger. In review. Historical Insights, Current Challenges: Tracking Marine Biodiversity in an Urban Harbor Ecosystem in the Face of Climate Change. Marine Biodiversity.

Sasaki, M., J. M. Barley, S. Gignoux-Wolfsohn, C. G. Hays, M. W. Kelly, A. B. Putnam, S. N. Sheth, A. R. Villeneuve, and B. S. Cheng. 2022. Greater evolutionary divergence of thermal limits within marine than terrestrial species. Nature Climate Change 12:1175–1180.

Barley, J. M., B. S. Cheng, M. Sasaki, S. Gignoux-Wolfsohn, C. G. Hays, A. B. Putnam, S. Sheth, A. R. Villeneuve, and M. Kelly. 2021. Limited plasticity in thermally tolerant ectotherm populations: evidence for a trade-off. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 288:20210765.

Putnam A.B., Peckol P. 2018. Asymmetric interference competition between herbivorous gastropods, introduced Littorina littoreaand indigenous obtusata. Marine Ecology Progress Series 594:135-147.

Peckol, P. & Putnam, A.B. 2017. Differential toxic effects of Ulva lactuca (Chlorophyta) on the herbivorous gastropods, Littorina littorea and obtusata (Mollusca). Journal of Phycology 53(2):361-367

Putnam, A.B. 2016. Competition and coexistence: Interactions between the two herbivorous marine gastropods, Littorina littorea and obtusata. Master’s Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.


Other Publications:

2023 Putnam A.B. Regional Invasive Species & Climate Change Management Research Summary: Multiple Stressors Make for Complex Impacts: How climate change and introduced bryozoans affect important kelp species

2022 Putnam A.B. Regional Invasive Species & Climate Change Management Research Summary: Some Like it Sour: Effects of Ocean Acidification and Other Stressors on Growth Rates of an Invasive Red Alga

2022 Putnam, A.B., M. Nelson, W. Pfadenhauer, M. Fertakos, and A. Suzzi. Regional Invasive Species & Climate Change Management: Marine Mischief: Salt marshes, climate change, and invasive species, oh my!

2021 Putnam, A.B. Written Interview for Disability Pride Month at Communications Biology.  Nature: Communications Biology - LINK HERE

2021 Putnam, A.B. Regional Invasive Species & Climate Change Management Research Summary: Species Distribution Models Reveal Present and Future Marine Invasion Hotspots