Dr. Southwell originally hails from Virginia, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Environmental Science from the University of Virginia. After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps as an Agroforestry volunteer in Cameroon. Upon her return, she earned her Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her research focused on microbially-mediated nitrogen cycling processes in coral reef sponges. She then joined the Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where she taught General Chemistry and performed research on chemical transformations in rainwater and in sediment-water interactions. In her current research, she continues her investigations into the role of sediment-water interactions in nutrient and organic matter transformations, focusing now on the shallow, soft-sediment ecosystems surrounding St. Augustine.