Research in our lab is dedicated to understanding how anthropogenic activities alter community structure and ecosystem processes (e.g., productivity, decomposition, and biogeochemical cycling) in freshwater ecosystems. Much of our research has focused on the impacts of consumers on basal food resources, community structure, and nutrient dynamics in streams and wetlands. We attempt to view our work through a social-ecological lens, acknowledging the powerful impacts that public policy and economic considerations can have on the quality and quantity of freshwater resources, the abundance and diversity of aquatic organisms, and the function of freshwater ecosystems. In an attempt to translate scientific knowledge to actionable outcomes, we actively work with community groups and local, state, and federal employees to develop programs that integrate stakeholder concerns into our research planning. Integrating a diverse set of perspectives into our work is important to develop a more comprehensive understanding of freshwater science. We embrace our lab members’ differences in gender, color, disability, ethnicity, age, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and other characteristics. Please feel free to review our lab statement of culture here. You may also review the materials we ask new members of our team to review to support the culture we hope to create and sustain here. We are excited to welcome new members to our research team. 

Please scroll down to see the entire lab or click on the categories below to directly navigate to sections of interest.

Principle Investigator

(L-R) Dr. Krista Capps, graduate student Viviana Bravo PhD student Anuja Mital, visiting scholar Shou Chen, and PhD student Denzell Cross collect samples in a stream on campus as part of a larger effort to study the impact of urbanization in streams in the state of Georgia.
"Mature" person on the left with amazing students and postdoc (Vivana, Anuja, Shuo, & Denzell)
Office Phone: 01.706.542.9673
Fax (Odum): 01.706.542.4819

Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar

Krista is an aquatic community and ecosystem ecologist. She works in both temperate and tropical freshwater systems and she is obsessed with wastewater. She earned a BS in biology and political science from Hope College, a MS in environmental science from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, and a PhD from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University in the laboratory of Alex Flecker. Krista conducted her dissertation research on the community and ecosystem-level effects of armored catfish invasion in the Usumacinta River in southern Mexico. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship through the Sustainability Solutions Initiative at the University of Maine in the laboratories of Aram Calhoun and Mac Hunter. Krista also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras and a Fulbright-Hays Scholar in Mexico. In a previous life, she thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Krista holds a joint position through the Odum School of Ecology and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at the University of Georgia (UGA). At UGA, she is an affiliated faculty member with the Center for Integrative Conservation Research, the River Basin Center, the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems, and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute. Krista lives in Athens with her partner, Dan, and their five-year old son, Gabe. Her family shares a home with myriad fishes,  a snake (Elote), a frog (Methuselah), a spotted salamander (Penelope Firespot), and two guinea pigs (Phyllis and Lightning).


Postdoctoral Researchers

Google scholar:



Shuo is an NSF-funded postdoctoral fellow on a collaborative project among five research institutions that investigates the urbanization effects on dissolved organic carbon in the United States. Shuo earned her Bachelor of Science in Marine Chemistry from the Ocean University of China in 2014. In 2021, Shuo graduated from the University of Alabama, where she completed her Ph.D. in Geological Sciences in the lab of Dr. Yuehan Lu. Her dissertation research focused on the fluvial dissolved organic matter (DOM) in response to anthropogenic and hydroclimatic divers in subtropical stream network. Her study interests include (1) evaluating the effects of human activities (e.g., urban and agricultural land use) and extreme climate and weather events on watershed biogeochemistry, especially the quality and quantity of DOM and dissolved nutrients mobilized from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems; (2) understanding the variability in processes controlling lotic carbon using metadata analysis of high-frequency fluorescent DOM (fDOM) data; and (3) assessing stream metabolism changes in response to the biophysical drivers across various climatic regimes.

PhD Students
Denzell began his research in aquatic ecology as an intern in the lab of Dr. Alan Christian as part of an REU at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. As part of this project, he conducted research comparing the physical, chemical, and biological effects of different methods of stream restoration on in-stream conditions. After graduating Norfolk State University with a BS in Biology in 2013, Denzell worked as a Restoration Ecology apprentice at The Wilds Conservation Center in Cumberland, OH, under the direction of Shana Byrd. Through this apprenticeship, he designed an experiment seeking to understand the in-stream impacts of mechanical riparian invasive plant removal in urbanizing environments. In 2015, Denzell began working as an hourly researcher in the Aquatic Ecology Lab at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center under the direction of Dr. Paul McCormick. While in the McCormick Lab, he conducted routine chemical and biological sampling of the Ichauway-Notchaway Watershed to estimate the effects of human-induced low flows on rivers and streams. Denzell also worked in the laboratories of Dr. Steve Golladay and Dr. Steven Brantly, investigating the ecological and hydrological conditions of the lower Flint River Basin and the physiological characteristics of longleaf pine. Denzell’s graduate research in the Capps Lab examines the effects of urbanization on the structure and function of aquatic macroinvertebrate  communities in Georgia. Denzell is a part of the Odum School of Ecology and the program in Integrative Conservation (ICON) at the University of Georgia. In 2018, Denzell was one of approximately 65 students in the US who was awarded a Ford Predoctoral Fellowship. Denzell became a PhD Candidate in the fall of 2020.
Research Gate

Anuja Mital is a Ph.D. student through the Integrated Conservation (ICON) program, and is co-supervised by Krista Capps and John Maerz. She completed a BS double majoring in Botany and Zoology in 2014, and a Masters in Wildlife Biology in 2016 from India, studying the community ecology and resource partitioning of freshwater turtles in the Ganges river basin. She has also documented freshwater turtle populations across the Brahmaputra river in NE India and her interests include population ecology of aquatic reptiles, the hydrology and flooding of large rivers, and freshwater habitat management alongside conservation education and outreach. Anuja is also the co-founder of ‘Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises of India‘, a citizen-science initiative to increase awareness and research on these taxa in India. At UGA, she plans to continue to explore freshwater food webs in the Brahmaputra with an emphasis on turtle ecology and use a systems approach to explore socio-ecological systems dynamics in the Brahmaputra to support turtle conservation in the region.

MS Students

Viviana Bravo Ortiz is an environmental engineer graduated from The National Polytechnic School (EPN, Ecuador) in 2020. At the University of Georgia, she is studying a master program in Conservation and Sustainable Development, and is co-supervised by Dr. Krista Capps and Dr. Raven Bier.

In 2017, she participated in the FONAG’s conservation and monitoring program of paramos, high-Andean forests and wetlands to protect the watersheds that generate water for the Metropolitan District of Quito.
In 2019, she developed a hydrological model to simulate water availability in the basins that supply water to Quito (DMQ). This research project was funded by the Water and Paramo Scientific Station Scholarship Program and developed through collaboration with The Quito´s Public metropolitan drinking water and sanitation company (EPMAPS), and the Water Protection Fund (FONAG).

At UGA, Vivi will assist in an assessment of aquatic macroinvertebrate community structure and biodiversity of 23 sites distributed across five major stream systems on the Savannah River Site. She plans to devote her graduate studies to learning about the conservation of freshwater ecosystems, understanding how changes in land use and development influence water quality, and studying concepts in ecotoxicology.

Fabiola graduated from Dalton State College in 2019, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology. At the University of Georgia, she will be co-advised by Dr. Krista Capps and Dr. Raven Bier as a MS student in Conservation and Sustainable Development. In the summer of 2019, Fabiola became a Jim Hill Diversity Fellow at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) where she helped care for endangered fish species such as Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, Lake Sturgeon, and Laurel Dace. Fabiola then became a research technician at TNACI for a year and a half, where she analyzed historical and contemporary levels of microplastics in freshwater fish species from the Royal D. Sutkuss fish collection from Tulane University. As a research technician, Fabiola worked on the method development of fish gut digestion. Fabiola plans to continue expanding her understanding of microplastics as a member of the Capps Lab as she will be analyzing how microplastics affect microbial communities.

Emily graduated with a BS in Biology from SUNY Geneseo in 2018, where she studied Extended Leaf Phenology of invasive shrubs in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Apple. Following graduation, she served on a vegetation crew with the US Forest Service through the Conservation Association (SCA), collecting vegetation data for a long-term silvicultural study in Southeast Alaska. In 2019, she served as a forestry technician with the US Fish and Wildlife Service through the SCA at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. During her time at Piedmont, she conducted wildlife monitoring, bird banding, prescribed fire, and forest inventory surveys. Before starting at the University of Georgia, she worked as a biological technician for the National Park Service through the SCA at Tonto National Monument in Roosevelt, Arizona. In her role there, she helped develop and manage a post-fire ecological restoration project. In addition, she maintained the wildlife monitoring program and climatic research station. Emily is pursuing her MS in Ecology at the Odum School of Ecology and the Jones Center at Ichauway. She is co-advised by Dr. Krista Capps and Dr. Steve Golladay.

Christian graduated with a BA in Animal Behavior from Bucknell University in 2018. As an undergraduate, he worked under Dr. Elizabeth Capaldi and Sean Reese studying interspecies interactions and life history of freshwater mussels in the Susquehanna River. After graduating, he spent a year studying at the University of Heidelberg in Germany on a fellowship. Upon returning to the United States, he worked as a Naturalist at the Coastal Institute in Cambria, California teaching students about terrestrial and marine coastal ecology and at The Institute in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania teaching about wetland and forest ecology. Christian is currently pursuing his MS in Ecology at the Odum School of Ecology and Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, co-advised by Dr. Krista Capps and Dr. Stacey Lance. His research will focus, in part, on the effects of legacy contaminants on fish communities at SREL.

Crystal is  a graduate student in the ICAS program. She is studying failure in wastewater treatment in Georgia. She joined the lab as an NSF-Funded Research Experience for Post-Baccalaureate Students (REPS) Scholar. Crystal graduated from Georgia Gwinnett College in 2021 with a BS in Environmental Science. Her interests in environmental science vary widely across both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, but she tend to focus largely on how climate change and other anthropogenic disturbances influence ecosystem function. She is developing an agent-based ecological model simulating the potential impact climate change may have on gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) populations by examining the influence of burn-window availability—a necessity for prescribed fires required in managing longleaf pine ecosystems. In 2020 and 2021, Crystal worked with Solve Climate by 2030 in the Social Media for Climate Activism internship—an initiative focused on getting students and teachers around the world engaged in a climate dialog event with local experts and leaders to discuss climate solutions that pertain to their communities. Her hobbies include scientific illustrating, painting, and searching for reptiles with her 11-year-old daughter.

Julia graduated from Gettysburg College in 2022, with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a minor in Chemistry. During the summer of 2021, she was awarded an NSF funded fellowship through the Maryland Sea Grant REU program at the University of Maryland Center of Environment Science working with Dr. Sairah Malkin. Their project used phytoplankton and water quality data from the Chesapeake Bay Monitoring program between 1991 and 2012 and the R package phyloseq to analyze the spatial distribution and spatiotemporal patterns of phytoplankton in the Chesapeake Bay. Her senior honors thesis at Gettysburg College focused on the food web of Lake Turkana, which is located in northern Kenya. Julia used Bayesian mixing models in the statistical software R and stable nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) isotope signature data to estimate the diet of seven important fish species in the Lake Turkana ecosystem. Her project served as an important step to understanding how the system has changed since it was last extensively studied in the 1980s and provided a baseline to model and predict future change due to hydrological development in the region. Julia is currently pursuing an MS in Ecology, co-advised by Drs. Krista Capps and Nandita Gaur. At UGA, she plans to study the potential impacts of septic systems on surface water and soil biogeochemistry.


Heather is a junior at USC Aiken majoring in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Remediation. As a Navy veteran, she is excited to pursue a new career that aligns with her values. Having had the opportunity to experience vastly different areas of the world, Heather grew passionate about spending time outdoors and about environmental stewardship of unique locations. She is interested in environmental toxicology and will be joining the Capps lab over the summer to support research dedicated to understanding how ceisum contamination moves through terrestrial and aquatic food webs.

Molly is majoring in Marketing, International Business and Ecology (A.B.) at UGA. She is planning to pursue graduate studies in ecology and sustainability. She joined the lab in May of 2021 and is supporting projects dedicated to microplastic pollution and to assessing the long-term impacts of urbanization on stream communities. She is also currently working as an intern with Georgia River Network collecting data to develop an app. This app will increase education and opportunities for Georgia residents to interact with Georgia Rivers. Molly plans to pursue independent research in our lab during the 2021-22 school year.

Isaac joined the lab in May 2021. He is a first year majoring in Ecology (B.S.) and he is pursuing a certification in sustainability. Currently he is helping support a project researching the impact of urbanization on  macroinvertebrate populations. His interests are in the urban impact on ecosystems along with human interaction and benefit from accessible environment spaces (especially in city communities). This has led to him assisting with the backyard critters program (EcoReach) and in the past volunteering with education and outreach at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Previously he has worked at the High Museum of Art developing gallery tours considering the interconnection of art, science, and the environment.