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

Krista Capps (she/her)

Krista is an aquatic community and ecosystem ecologist. She works in both temperate and tropical freshwater systems. 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 four-year old son, Gabe. Her family shares a home with myriad fishes,  a snake (Elote), a frog (Methuselah), and two guinea pigs (Phyllis and Lightning).
Office Phone: 01.706.542.9673

Please note, I have no voicemail and will be frequently working remotely until the COVID 19 crisis has passed. Please send me an email instead, and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible. 

Fax (Odum): 01.706.542.4819


Postdoctoral Researchers & Other Research Professionals

Shuo Chen (joining the lab in Fall 2021)

email address
Professional website

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Madeline Martinez

Madeline graduated from the University of Miami in 2020, where she earned a BS in Marine and Atmospheric Science focusing in marine biology and ecology. Her senior year, she was enrolled in a research-intensive Saltwater Semester studying marine vertebrate and invertebrate physiology and behavior in response to environmental stressors under Dr. Danielle McDonald and Dr. Lynne Fieber. She has also conducted underwater survey transects as part of various projects investigating the ecological health and biodiversity of South Florida’s mangrove forests and patch reefs. Now in her graduate career, Madeline is interested in expanding her research of the relationships between anthropogenic activities and various aquatic ecosystems. Madeline joined the team as a research technician supporting the Capps and Wenger Labs at UGA in the spring of 2021. She is excited to be a part of projects examining freshwater fish conservation in the Coosa River Basin and urban stream ecology in Athens and the greater Atlanta Metro Region.

PhD Students

Denzell Cross
Professional Website

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. 

Anuja Mital
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

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Kyle Connelly

Originally from Northeast Ohio, Kyle earned his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources from West Virginia University in 2012.  During that time, he assisted with a number of water quality monitoring projects for both a local watershed advocacy organization and a regional government agency.  Through those practical experiences, he gained a particular interest in the issues and management implications surrounding heavily impacted aquatic systems.  After graduating, Kyle spent two years in the Philippines as a Coastal Resource Management Volunteer with the Peace Corps, where he facilitated the collection of local community and environmental data and helped write a five-year environmental management plan for the area.  Kyle, now a M.S. student in the Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development program at UGA, seeks to couple his practical experiences with new skills and perspectives to help address environmental perturbations in communities.  He is most interested in exploring community and ecological threats and opportunities at the watershed scale through issue-driven research.  His thesis work focuses on how the spatial arrangement and management characteristics of wastewater infrastructure impacts local stream water quality in Athens-Clarke County and how those relationships may correlate with socio-demographic data.

Fabiola Lopez Avila 

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Emily Martin

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.

Maddie Monroe
Professional Website

Maddie began her research in aquatic ecology in the Capps Lab as an undergraduate assistant in the Summer of 2018. She worked with Denzell Cross on his research focusing on the effects of urbanization on urban watersheds in Georgia. In the summer of 2019, Maddie was awareded an internship with UGA Marine Extension. As part of this internship, she helped develop a protocol for the enzyme digestion of Georgia oysters in order to look at microplastics in the tissues. Maddie also aided in observing the amounts and distribution of microplastics in the water column as part of an ongoing citizen science project. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a BS in Ecology and a certificate in sustainability. Her graduate research will focus on the spatial and temporal patterns of wastewater-derived microplastics in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. This research will be carried out through the Odum School of Ecology.

Christian Swartzbaugh

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Corinne Sweeney

In 2016, Corinne earned her BS in Biology and Ecology from the University of Georgia. As an undergraduate she worked in a marine microbiology lab under Dr. Tim Hollibaugh, learning skills in DNA extraction, qPRC and nutrient analysis. The summer after graduating, Corinne worked with PhD student, Amy Briggs, in the Osenberg lab at the Odum School of Ecology engaging in work in mosquito population ecology, oviposition behavior and how it may relate to vector control. In 2017, she worked for Tom Maddox at the Center for Applied Isotope Studies preparing environmental samples for carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis and gained experience in running mass spectrometers. In 2018, Corinne was offered a technician position at the Dauphin Island Sea lab off the coast of Alabama in ecotoxocologist, Dr. Alison Robertson’s, lab. In her two years at DISL, Corinne assisted in research on harmful algal blooms in the gulf coast. In addition, the laboratory team focused on the biology and ecology of Ciguatera Poisoning in tropical communities, allowing Corinne to represent the lab in a trip to Cienfuegos, Cuba to confer with collaborators at the Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos. She was also given her own side project analyzing PCB and organochlorine concentrations in blue fin tuna muscle tissue as chemical tracers for long distance migration. Currently, Corinne is conducting her MS in Ecology at the Odum School of Ecology and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, co-advised by Dr. Krista Capps and Dr. Stacey Lance. Her master’s research focuses on cesium contamination at SREL and how contaminants travel through trophic levels as well as between terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Undergraduates (Past and Present)

Joined 2021

Heather Latham

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 undertanding how ceisum contamination moves through terrestrial and aquatic food webs.

Joined 2020

Diane Klement

Diane worked with us during her senior year at UGA. She supported our research in microplastics in the environment.

Kayla Wagner

Kayla is a senior at the University of Georgia with a double major in Biology BS and Ecology BS. In her studies and research opportunities, Kayla has enjoyed working with concepts in evolutionary ecology, disease ecology, and aquatic ecology. She is also interested in ecosystem dynamics. Kayla joined the Capps Lab in the spring of 2020 to assist Denzell Cross with his PhD project involving aquatic macroinvertebrates. Due to Covid-19, she has recently been working from home, helping Dr. Krista Capps prepare resources for the Stream Ecology textbook. After graduation, she plans to conduct biological research with the National Parks Service and later attend graduate school.

Joined 2019

Lilly Tanner

Lily is a third year at the New College of Florida. She majors in biology, mainly focusing on ecology and conservation biology. Lily has extensive experience with aquarium, waste, and drinking water infrastructure. She has a great interest in sustainable aquatic animal husbandry, as well as the impact that urbanization has on waterways. Lily joined the Capps lab in Summer 2019 as part of the Population Biology of Infectious Diseases REU Program at UGA researching E. coli presence in several water sites in the greater Atlanta region. After graduation she plans on applying for graduate programs in ecology/conservation biology.

Joined 2018

Emma Dickinson
At the University of Georgia, Emma is a BA Music and BS Ecology double major, and a CURO Honors Scholar. Emma’s previous research was in coastal ecosystems and community interactions in the Byers Lab in the Odum School of Ecology. She focused on biodiversity in oyster reef and spartina systems in the coastal Southeast. Emma will be joining the lab in the summer of 2018 as an intern for the upcoming Upper Oconee Science and Policy Summit. She will transition to a undergraduate research internship position through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Honors Program in the fall. After graduation, Emma plans on pursuing a PhD in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology or Wildlife Conservation.

Zion Eberhart
Zion is a first-year Biological Science major and Applied Biotechnology minor at the University of Georgia. Her previous research focused on developing approaches for gene targeting and genetic engineering in the Storici Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology. She specifically researched on the relationship between DNA and RNA genome stability/ instability in yeast cells and got the opportunity to present her work at the Atlanta Science Festival. Zion will be joining the lab in the fall of 2018 as an undergraduate researcher through the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program. After graduation, Zion intends to apply to MD-PhD programs.

Anderson Felt
Anderson Felt is a second year at the University of Georgia. She is a double major in Ecology AB and International Affairs. She also is pursuing a certificate in water resources. Growing up she was fascinated with policies and science. Over time, her interests turned specifically toward riparian rights and the legal battles within that field. Anderson will be joining the lab in the summer of 2018 as an intern for the upcoming Upper Oconee Science and Policy Summit.

Maddie Monroe
Maddie will be joining the lab as an undergraduate research assitant in the summer of 2018. At her home institution, University of Georgia, Maddie studies ecology with the Odum school of Ecology. In her classes, she completed research on phytoremediation as a solution to chemical and urban waste cleanup. After graduation, Maddie intends to apply to graduate programs focusing on Ecology and Sustainability.

Rebecca Parsons
Becca is a fourth-year senior at the University of Georgia who will be graduating in Spring 2019 with a B.A. in Ecology, the Certificate in Sustainability, and Certificate in Geographic Information Science. In her studies and work experiences, she has focused on the communication of ecological information and science, community involvement in environmental action, and sustainable business practices. For the past year and a half, Becca has operated as the head of social media and website development, program blog manager, and research assistant for the Georgia Dolphin Ecology Program. In the Capps lab, Becca will be involved in designing a new website for the AERC, generating materials for and maintaining the Watershed Learning Network website, and data entry of sewer records for Athens-Clarke County Government. After graduation, Becca hopes to work for an environmental NGO or conservation-minded business in the Southeastern U.S.

Gabriela Rodriguez
Gabriela is a rising sophomore at the University of South Carolina-Aiken. She is majoring in biology and her interests include marine biology and veterinary medicine. She joined the Capps Lab in the spring of 2018 in partnership with the Lance Lab at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. She is currently working with PhD student, Julie Ziemba, on DNA extraction and qPCR of amphibian pathogens.

Jahsarah Williamson
Jahsarah is a junior at Baylor University, where she is majoring in Environmental Health Science and minoring in Biology. She is currently a part of an undergraduate research group, creating geospatial assessments of lead in West Dallas, Texas neighborhoods through XRF analysis of soil samples. This summer, she will join the Capps Lab as part of the Population Biology of Infectious Diseases REU Program at UGA. Upon graduation, Jahsarah would like to pursue a career as a Pathologist’s’ Assistant, somehow incorporating the negative effects of the environment on human health and how these effects differ among different racial and socioeconomic groups.

Joined 2017

Amber Matha
At her home institution, Mercyhurst University, Amber’s research experience was primarily through the Chemistry Department. Specifically, her work focused on identifying synergistic drug combinations to increase drug effectiveness in HER2 overexpressing cancer cells. This summer, Amber joined the Capps Lab as an REU student in the Population Biology of Infectious Diseases REU Program at UGA. Her research is focused on understanding how larval diet influences the growth and development of two mosquito taxa. After graduation, Amber intends to apply to graduate programs in public health.

Joined 2015

Reed Solly
Reed joined the lab in the spring of 2015. She worked as a lab technician in Dr. Capps’ lab and primarily assisted one of her graduate students with experimental work examining metal pollution and nutrient cycling in streams. In the fall of 2016, I had the opportunity to continue working in the Capps Lab, conducting independent research examining the effects of resource stoichiometry on larval mosquito survival and development in conjunction with researchers in the Department of Entomology. I also interned in the Athens-Clarke County’s Stormwater Management office to pursue interests in challenges associated with aging wastewater infrastructure.