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. 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. 
2023: Capps-Lance Labs Trip to the Tennessee Aquarium to participate in a professional development workshop in freswhater conservation (sadly Krista is not featured due to COVID)
Undergraduate researchers are an important part of our team and we are always interested in undergradaute students contacting us about potential volunteer or paid positions, or about opportunities to conduct research for credit. If you are an undergradute interested in research, plese visit the contact page for information.

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 Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems, and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute. She is an associate director of the River Basin Center.
Krista lives in Athens with her partner, Dan, and their six-year old son, Gabe. Her family shares a home with myriad fishes,  a snake (Elote), 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. She is transitioning to a new position at the University of Florida, but is still working with us! 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.
Google scholar:
Irene is a postdoctoral fellow in the UGA Future Faculty for Inclusive Research Excellence (FFIRE) program. Irene is an aquatic ecologist with broad interests in community ecology, conservation biology, organismal functional traits, and biotic and abiotic interactions. Irene’s research focuses on 1) understanding spatial and temporal patterns in taxonomic and functional diversity across ecological scales and 2) assessing the relationships between organisms and the structure and function of the ecosystems they inhabit. Throughout her career Irene has used empirical data on freshwater mussel communities and their functional traits to answer fundamental ecological questions. Irene earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Missouri Valley College and her Master of Science in Biology from Arkansas State University. Irene graduated from The University of Alabama, where she completed her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in the lab of Dr. Carla Atkison studying morphological trait variation and niche partitioning of freshwater mussels along ecological gradients. See her personal website for more information.

PhD Students

Andrew is a PhD student working on a research project studying carbon dynamics and ecosystem function in urban streams as part of the CURB project. His research interests include stream metabolism in urban river networks and how city landscape characteristics may influence carbon dynamics in streams. He earned his MS from Kent State in 2022 studying stream ecosystem response to storm events in the Costello Biogeochemistry lab, and completed a BS at Penn State. Stream ecology played a large role in developing his passion for ecological sciences and he hopes to foster the passion of future scientists through education. Andrew’s interest in education and streams was reinforced during his time as an interpretive park ranger and naturalist for Maryland and Delaware State Parks.
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.
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 PhD 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.

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.
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 is currently working as part of a community-driven research project to assess drivers of increased septic system pumping and socio-demographic characteristics associated with aging/failing wastewater infrastructure in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.
Natalia studied biology at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. She began studying phytoplankton in lakes and became interested in aquatic ecosystems, and then she fell in love with streams and riparian buffers while working with periphyton at Lachuá Ecoregion. At UGA, she plans to study the effects of the loss of riparian forests on periphyton and macroinvertebrate communities in streams draining into Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.