Kelton W McMahon

  • Associate Professor of Oceanography
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Phone: 401.874.6944
  • Email:
  • Office Location: 335 Coastal Institute Building, Bay Campus
  • Website
  • Google Scholar
  • Accepting Students: Master's, Post Doc, Ph.D.


The McMahon Ocean Ecogeochemistry Lab is actively engaged in basic and applied research to examine the roles that food web architecture play in the function and resilience of marine ecosystems, and how climate change and human-environment interactions alter those relationships. Our lab develops a quantitative understanding of the biochemical and physiological mechanisms that control resource acquisition and allocation. We then apply this knowledge in large-scale field studies to examine a wide range of questions from individual nutritional ecology and population connectivity to ecosystem-scale food web dynamics and the functioning of the biological pump. A central focus of research in our lab is the development of compound-specific stable isotope analysis tools and knowledge that push the analytical frontier in food web ecology. While our research program is firmly rooted in fundamental ecological and oceanographic theory, it extends beyond the basic research questions to address the applied management and practical decision-making needed to resolve current and emerging coastal ocean challenges. Our research, education, and service are built within the framework of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in STEM. We actively develop and implement anti-racist, decolonized, and inclusive approaches to science and societal progression.


Food web ecology
Isotope Ecology
Biogeochemical Cycles
Coupled Human-Natural Systems
Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in STEM


B.S. in Biology – Bates College
Ph.D in Oceanography – MIT/WHOI Joint Program
Postdoc in Coral Reef Ecology – King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Postdoc in Paleo Isotope Geochemistry – University of California Santa Cruz

Selected Publications


OCG106G: You, Me, and Life in the Sea
OCG550: Environmental Isotope Geochemistry
BES550: Advanced Ecology
Decolonizing Ecology/Oceanography Curriculum Workshop
Inclusive Mentoring Workshop