Dr. Burkholder has loved the ocean for as long as she can remember. However, it wasn’t until she was a college junior that she realized that she wanted to make studying the ocean her career. After completing a summer semester with the Sea Education Association, she made the decision to pursue a degree in physical oceanography at Duke University working with Dr. Susan Lozier.

At Duke, Dr. Burkholder’s work focused primarily on the ways in which the Gulf Stream (and other important currents) is able to move heat and salt to high latitudes. She also became very interested in the link between ocean circulation and climate change, an interest that she continues to pursue today.

Currently, Dr. Burkholder is using both observational datasets and output from a high resolution ocean circulation model to examine the ways in which the subsurface waters of the Gulf of Maine (New England’s “oceanic backyard”) have been changing on seasonal to decadal timescales. In particular, she is investigating both how the composition of the nutrient rich deep waters entering the Gulf of Maine has changed through time and the fate of those deep waters once they pass through the Northeast Channel. Ultimately, she hopes to contribute to a better understanding of how these important pathways may be impacted as our planet continues to warm.

Download CV


  • B.S. Chemistry, Bucknell University, 2006
  • Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, Duke University, 2011

Research Interests

  • Large-scale Ocean Circulation
  • Climate Change
  • Gulf of Maine
  • Environmental Education
  • Women in Science

Courses Taught

  • ENV 200: Principles of Environmental Science
  • ENV 201: Research Methods in Environmental Science
  • ENV 350: Climate Science
  • ENV 360: Introduction to Oceanography
  • LC 318: The Ethics and Science of Climate Change


  • $286,284 Award in Support of Marine Debris Project, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant, 2023