Lab Alumni

Ethan1 3.jpgEthan Chau
High School Intern (2017-2019)
Presently: Undergraduate, UCLA

Ethan has a passion for the life sciences and assisted with several laboratory techniques in the Moeller lab including data collection for photophysiology measurements and protist growth curves. He volunteered with the lab from 2017-2019. He assisted in an experiment investigating the effects of temperature on the mixotroph evolutionary response to climate change. Ethan also has experience as a summer intern working at the Laboratory of Integrated Neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health studying the impact of ketones on Parkinson’s Disease using a mouse model. He is looking forward to conducting research in college at UCLA!

Ean EberhardEan Eberhard
Technician (2020-2021)

Ean is interested in the physiological and molecular responses of organisms to environmental stressors and how these stressors influence the structure and functioning of marine communities. His research in the group focused on our mixotrophic friends. Before moving to Santa Barbara, Ean worked as a research assistant and technician in multiple labs, studying a wide-range of interest. He received a REU to study the effects of global change stressors on diatoms with Dr. Uta Passow and Dr. Nigel D’souza at UCSB. After graduating from Oakland University with a B.S. in Biology, Ean decided to venture from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean, returning to UCSB to dive deeper into his passion for marine ecology. In his spare time, he fancies diving, hiking, surfing (still working on it), and cooking.

Sevan at YosemiteSevan Esaian
Graduate Student
sevan.esaian ‘at’

Sevan’s research is a part of the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research Project (SBC LTER). He is using molecular biology, mathematical modeling, and geographic information science, to investigate epiphytic microbial population dynamics on Macrocystis pyrifera (giant kelp). His research focuses broadly on the synergistic effects of environmental factors driving giant kelp microbial abundance, diversity, and recovery throughout its life cycle (primarily senescence). During undergraduate studies at CSU – Los Angeles he studied the gene regulatory network of migratory neural crest cells in chicken embryos. He continued his education there as a MSc student by studying bird population dynamics and foraging preferences throughout the Los Angeles urban forest. Sevan joined the lab in Fall 2018.

Logan GonzalezLogan Gonzalez
Undergraduate Researcher (2018-2020)
Presently: Researcher, Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory

Logan is a biochemistry major with wide-ranging interests from prebiotic chemistry to global biogeochemical cycling. During his time in the Moeller lab, he assisted with various projects including ones aimed at understanding the responses of mixotrophic phytoplankton to environmental changes such as light and nutrient concentration. His independent research used mathematical modeling approaches to better understand the evolutionary dynamics of mixotrophs in response to environmental shifts. Logan also ran laboratory experiments using Paramecium bursaria as a model organism to study the competitive outcomes of acquired phototrophy.

Veronica HsuVeronica Hsu
Undergraduate Researcher (2017-2021); Goldwater Scholar (2020)

As the “lab’s first graduate student,” Veronica studied the effect of species arrival order on community composition, known as priority effects. Her work showed how mixotrophy (the ability of a single organism to utilize heterotrophy and photosynthesis) influences priority effects, using a model system of competition between Paramecium bursaria, a mixotroph, and Colpidium, a heterotroph. Her work on this system, and a later project studying management of agricultural pests, also involved ecological modeling. She worked with Dr. Tadashi Fukami at Stanford University for the summer of 2018, studying priority effects in a flower nectar biome system. Aside from research, Veronica played club water polo at UCSB and enjoyed the beach. After graduating from UCSB, Veronica began a technician position in immunology at MIT’s Koch Institute.

Kelsey HustedKelsey Husted
Undergraduate Researcher (2018-2020)

Kelsey studied the microbiome of Macrocystic pyrifera (giant kelp).  Mentored by graduate student Sevan Esaian, her main focus was on the abiotic factors that affect the microbial population of giant kelp.  Her objective was to better understand the dynamics of giant kelp’s microbial community throughout its lifecycle.  She previously worked within the Miller lab at UCSB as an intern from 2017-2018.  Tasks revolved around assessing the biodiversity of sessile organisms in the Santa Barbara Channel and scientific diving.  In Kelsey’s free time, she enjoyed surfing at Coal Oil Point, sailing, and playing with dogs.

IMG_8138Kristen Klitgaard
Undergraduate Researcher (2019-2020)

Kristen is interested in plants, broadly. She worked with us to better understand the mutualistic relationship between trees and mycorrhizal fungi. Using mathematic modeling, she is studied the optimal investment strategy of a tree with fungal partners whose quality varies by season. She previously worked in Dr. Susan Mazer’s lab at UCSB under PhD candidate Kristen Peach to find how Clarkia unguiculata flowers’ pigment and pattern influenced pollinator visitation. Outside of the lab, Kristen spent her happiest time leading with Cru Santa Barbara, reading, and gazing lovingly at the ocean.

Ryan MarczakRyan Marczak
rmarczak ‘at’

Ryan is interested in the biochemical and molecular biology of organisms and how they respond to a changing environment. He is currently conducting research involving mixotrophs. Ryan graduated from UCSB with a B.S. in Biochemistry-Molecular Biology. Throughout his undergraduate career, he had a variety of laboratory experiences ranging from research on the structure and dynamics of food webs to assisting with assay development for SARS-CoV-2 at UCSF. Aside from biology, he enjoys cooking, playing music, surfing, skiing, and hiking.

image (1).pngConner Mertz
Undergraduate Researcher (2018-2019); NSF Graduate Fellow (2020)
Presently: Ph.D. Student, Univ. of New Mexico

Conner Mae Mertz worked in the Moeller Lab assisting in our mixotroph evolution experiment from 2018-2019. Conner met Dr. Moeller during an ecology course Dr. Holly Moeller taught the previous academic year and subsequently joined the Moeller laboratory. Conner played an important role in the monitoring the predator-prey interactions in the evolution experiments. Following graduation from UCSB, she worked for a year at Casa de Salud, before joining the UNM Ph.D. program in Biology to work with Dr. Vesbach and Dr. Newsome. For any inquiries please contact

Gone But Not Forgotten

MorticiaMorticia (f.k.a. Morty)
Lab Pet (2018-2019)
Now a specimen at the Cheadle Center

Morticia, a dead-leaf mantis, joined the Moeller lab in the summer of 2018. Before that, she had experience in behavioral ecology as part of the Pruitt Lab, where she assisted in teaching undergraduates experimental research techniques. In a study of whether behavior predicted attack rates, her species was the only one whose behavior patterns were significant. Her other interests included hunting and eating crickets, slurping up water droplets, and hanging upside down staring out the window. She went on to be the longest lived of all the mantids in her cohort, passing away surrounded by her friends on March 15, 2019.