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Dr. Celia Symons

Assistant Professor

I am interested in understanding the impact of global change drivers on aquatic food web structure and function. Freshwater systems are facing many environmental stressors, such as warming, browning, salinization, eutrophication, and invasive species. Determining the response of lake ecosystems is critical to predicting future function. The cumulative impact of multiple environmental changes are difficult to predict as their tendency to amplify or dampen one another’s effects depends upon the stressors in question and the functional characteristics of the affected communities. We uses a combination of field surveys, mesocosms experiments and lab experiments to mechanistically explore how variables at different scales - individual traits, population demography and community composition - shape the response of lakes to environmental change. 

Please follow the links below for more information on my research:





Christine Bonadonna

PhD Student

I started my PhD in Fall 2020 and my research focuses on invertebrates in pond ecosystems. I am looking into how environmental factors influence community composition and phenology through a multi-year field survey of ponds in the Eastern Sierra. I am also interested in how shifts in average temperature and temperature variability will affect zooplankton communities and individuals traits.

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Emily Martin

PhD Student

I'm interested in how shifts in abiotic and biotic factors influence freshwater ecosystems in a changing world. I hope to tackle research questions involving novel pressures on alpine lakes (e.g., heat waves, algal blooms, anthropogenic influences) and how these pressures alter community structure and organismal relationships. With a background in amphibian disease ecology from Purdue University (Searle Lab), I hope to integrate disease work within my research as well, as altered ecosystems can vary in disease susceptibility and overall ecosystem health. I am excited to continue to study freshwater ecology through a combination of laboratory and field approaches in the Symons Lab, expanding my knowledge of aquatic conservation biology and collaborating with interdisciplinary groups. 

Follow the email link below to get in touch:


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Dr. Joseph Mohan

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am broadly interested in the interplay of Earth's major systems (litho-,hydro-, atmo-, & biospheres). I particularly enjoy quantifying interactions at the interface between these systems. I am driven to uncover new and interesting ways that each sphere influences and shapes the processes that drive the other spheres. I am currently exploring the influence of sun exposure on alpine lake communities. My Ph.D. research focused on applying 3D modeling and statistical modeling methods to reveal how plankton traits influence community and population dynamics which are driven by atmospheric deposition. I was able to reveal that evolution of spines on a species of plankton changed the rate of sediment deposition in a lake in the Sawtooth Range, Idaho. My master’s thesis was part of an international collaborative project that has revealed how dynamic environments and climate change influenced early human evolution in East Africa. My bachelor's thesis in geology revealed an abrupt shift in polychaeta fossils from the Michigan Basin ~385 million years ago. I have a broad range of knowledge and education in natural sciences and I enjoy providing my expertise to collaborative projects. One example is applying automated aquatic microscopy to the South Pole Ice Core. 



‪Google Scholar‬


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Undergraduate researchers:

Meili Soriano
Soffia Ramsey

Past Undergraduates:

Tu Nguyen

Claire Liu
Aimee Chi Soe

Pauline Stevens

Nathan Lee

Sarah Haas
Jatin Behar
Tyler Queja 

Emily Le
Steven Nguyen
Annabelle Doo

Roman Torres
Hunter Rojas



Dr. Emma Moffett

Postdoctoral Fellow

My research focuses on how contemporary evolution influences ecosystems. I am primarily focused on climate change as a driver of adaptation in freshwater ecosystems and is currently a post-doctoral scholar in the Symons Lab at The University of California – Irvine. Here, my research involves working along an altitudinal temperature gradient in the Sierra Nevada mountain range to understand how temperature and resources interact. I am also working on a whole-ecosystem experiment to understand how predator experience through local adaptation alters ecological outcomes.


I completed my doctorate in 2019 at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. My doctoral research used populations of mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) which have been recently introduced across geothermal gradients to understand how temperature may drive evolutionary and

ecological change.

Follow the email link below to get in touch:


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