M. Robert Hamersley

M. Robert Hamersley, PhD

Academic Administration - Undergraduate Program
Faculty - Full-Time
Headshot of M. Robert Hamersley
Dean of Faculty
Professor of Environmental Biogeochemistry

I teach courses on the three most important environmental issues affecting humanity: climate change, water resources, and agriculture. In my classes, students combine perspectives from the sciences, environmental policy, and technology to approach solutions to these problems. In class, students often work in teams to solve problems based on real-life case studies. Students also learn how to write reviews of the scientific literature on these topics. In these courses, students learn to conduct scientific research, go on field trips to nearby county and municipal environmental facilities and natural areas, or learn to grow vegetables on their own plots in the Soka Instructional Garden.

In my research laboratory, highly motivated students can make a contribution to original scientific research studying the production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from wetlands. Work by my students has resulted in 13 presentations at regional and international conferences, as well as published and in-progress manuscripts in scientific journals.

I also play a role in promoting sustainability on campus in my role as a Faculty Representative on the Campus Sustainability Committee and as a mentor to students conducting research on sustainability at SUA. My students’ reports, written as a result of research in Learning Clusters, Independent Study courses, and Capstones, have contributed to SUA being certified at the Silver level through the STARS certification program. Students have conducted water and waste audits conducted biodiversity research and made plans for improving sustainability engagement on campus.

  • PhD Biological Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • MEDes Environmental Science, University of Calgary
  • BSc (Hon.) Biology, University of Victoria

Presently Teaching

  • Introduction to Climate Change (EOS 302)
  • Modes of Inquiry (INQUIRY 100)
  • Nature and Humanity (BIO 110)
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening (EOS 280)
  • Water Resources (EOS 322)

Learning Clusters

  • Agricultural Soil Restoration
  • Agriculture, Gardening, and Soils
  • Californian and Modernist Architecture of Los Angeles
  • Campus Sustainability
  • Garbology
  • Green Soka University
  • Greening the Campus

Past Courses

  • Biogeochemistry 
  • Environmental Design 
  • Environmental Microbiology 
  • Medical Microbiology 
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic biogeochemistry and environmental microbiology
  • Denitrification
  • Links between the carbon and nitrogen cycles
  • Methanogenesis
  • Noe Dobrea EZ, McAdam AC, Freissinet C, Franz H, Belmahdi I, Hamersley MR, Archer R, Stoker CR, Parker WG, Glavin DP and Calef F. “Mechanisms for preservation of organics in jarosite at the Painted Desert.” Oral presentation and abstract, Astrobiology Science Conference. April 24-28, 2017. Mesa, Arizona, USA.
  • Noe Dobrea, EZ, McAdam AC, Freissinet C, Franz H, Belmahdi I, Hamersley MR, Stoker CR, Parker B, Ja Kim K, Glavin DP, Calef F and AD Aubrey. “Characterizing the mechanisms for the preservation of organics at the Painted Desert: Lessons for MSL, ExoMars, and Mars 2020.” Abstract 2796. Poster and abstract, 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. March 21-25, 2016. The Woodlands, Texas, USA.
  • Noe Dobrea EZ, Aubry AD, Glavin DP, Calef F, Hamersley MR, McAdam AC, Freissinet C, Franz H, Stoker CR and B Parker. “Biologically induced mineralization, site selection, and organic detection in Mars-analog field sites.” Oral presentation and abstract, Astrobiology Science Conference: Habitability, Habitable Worlds, and Life. June 15-19, 2015. Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  • Hamersley MR, Sohm JA, Burns JA and DG Capone. 2015. “Nitrogen fixation associated with the decomposition of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera.” Aquatic Botany, 125:57-63.
  • Bonnet B, Dekaezemacker J, Turk-Kubo KA, Moutin T, Hamersley MR, Grosso O, Zehr JP and DG Capone. 2013. “Aphotic N2 fixation in the eastern tropical South Pacific Ocean.” S Bonnet et al. Public Library of Science One, 2013 PLOS ONE. 8:e81265.
  • Kawai M, Kishi M, Hamersley MR, Nagao N, Hermana J and T Toda. 2012. “Biodegradability and methane productivity during anaerobic co-digestion of refractory leachate.” International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation. 72:46-51.
  • Hamersley MR, Turk KA, Leinweber A, Gruber N, Zehr JP, Gunderson T and DG Capone. 2011. “Nitrogen fixation within the water column associated with two hypoxic basins in the Southern California Bight.” Aquatic Microbial Ecology. 63:193-205.
  • Hamersley MR, Woebken D, Boehrer B, Schultze M, Lavik G, and MMM Kuypers. 2009 “Water column anammox and denitrification in a temperate permanently-stratified lake (Lake Rassnitzer, Germany).” Systematic and Applied Microbiology. 32:571-582.
  • Hamersley MR, Lavik G, Woebken D, Rattray JE, Lam P, Hopmans EC, Sinninghe Damsté JS, Krüger S, Graco M, Gutiérrez D and MMM Kuypers. 2007. “Anaerobic ammonium oxidation in the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone.” Limnology and Oceanography. 52:923-933.
  • Hamersley MR and BL Howes. 2005. “Coupled nitrification-denitrification measured in situ in vegetated salt marsh sediments using a nitrogen-15 ammonium tracer.” Marine Ecology Progress Series. 299:123-135.
  • Hamersley MR and BL Howes. 2005. “An evaluation of the N2 flux approach for measuring sediment denitrification.” Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science. 62:711-723
  • “Nitrogen fluxes and mitigation strategies in the Audubon Skunknett River Wildlife Sanctuary.” M.R. Hamersley and B. L. Howes. Coastal Systems Laboratory, 2004
  • Hamersley MR and BL Howes. 2003. “Contribution of denitrification to nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen cycling in sediments of a New England salt marsh.” Marine Ecology Progress Series. 262:55-69
  • Hamersley MR, Howes BL, and DS White. 2003. “Particulates, not plants, dominate nitrogen processing in a septage-treating wetland system.” Journal of Environmental Quality. 32:1895-1904.
  • Hamersley MR and BL Howes. 2002. “Control of denitrification in a septage-treating artificial wetland: The dual role of particulate organic carbon.” Water Research. 36:4416-4428.
  • Hamersley M.R, Howes BL, White DS, Johnke S, Young D, Peterson SB and JM Teal. 2001. “Nitrogen balance and cycling in an ecologically engineered septage treatment system.” Ecological Engineering. 18:61-75.
  • 2008-present, Board Member, Orange Coast Watershed and Environment Center, Laguna Niguel, California, USA.
  • 2007-present, Associate Professor of Environmental Microbiology, Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, California, USA. 
  • 2005-2007, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, Los Angeles, California, USA. 
  • 2004-2005, Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany. 
  • 2003, Visiting Lecturer, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth Department of Biology, N. Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA. 
  • 2002-2004, Research Associate, School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), University of Massachusetts, New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA. 
  • Science Digest Top 25 Hottest Articles: Systematic and Applied Microbiology (for Hamersley et al. 2009), 2009
  • P.I., Greening the Campus: An investigation of Green Building Standards and their application at SUA. $10,000. Luis and Linda Nieves Learning Cluster Grant. 2009.
  • P.I., Nutrient and Metal Removal from Urban Runoff by Freshwater Wetlands Fringing Newport Bay. $1,000. Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends Research Committee. 2009.
  • Science Digest Top 25 Hottest Articles: Ecological Engineering (for Hamersley et al. 2001), 2005
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, 2004
  • Co-P.I., Reducing Nitrate Fluxes Into Scudder Bay: The Role Of The Skunknett River Wildlife Sanctuary Pond System. $16,000. Town Of Barnstable, Massachusetts. 2003.
  • P.I., Isotopic Studies of Salt Marsh Denitrification. $4000, Reinhart Coastal Research Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 2000.
  • Graduate Fellowship, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, 1991