Dr. Christian Briseño-Avena (2015-) Postdoctoral Scholar brisenoc@oregonstate.edu

Christian Briseño-Avena received his bachelor degree in Biology from the Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico, his M.S. in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University and his Ph.D from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD in Biological Oceanography. Christian is a plankton ecologist interested in applying newly-developed technologies (optical and acoustical) to study the in situ physical-biological interactions at the time and spatial scales relevant to the organisms. As a Postdoctoral Scholar at Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University, Christian has been working with an interdisciplinary team, the CONsortium for COastal River Dominated Ecosystems (CONCORDE) studying the physical-biological processes of the river-dominated ecosystem of the Mississippi Bight, in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Currently, his non-marine related hobby is learning the "terrestrial vascular plant ecology" of the cold, wet Oregon Coast through gardening!

Research Gate


Moritz Schmid

(2017-) Postdoctoral Scholar schmidm@oregonstate.edu

Moritz obtained a M.Sc. in International Nature Conservation, which included studies in New Zealand, Germany and the United States. For his M.Sc. thesis he worked on pan-Arctic species distribution modelling of zooplankton using machine learning techniques, and predicted present day spatially explicit distributions as well as future occurrences and depth distributions based on IPCC scenarios. After finishing this work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks under supervision of Falk Huettmann, Moritz commenced a PhD in Oceanography under the supervision of Louis Fortier at Université Laval, Canada. This PhD was embedded in the wider ArcticNet research network as well as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada’s New Arctic Frontier.

For his PhD Moritz utilized the LOKI underwater imaging system on several Arctic research cruises onboard Canadian and American icebreakers. Work for this PhD included the development of a copepod-stage-specific automatic zooplankton identification model. The model was then used to automatically identify underwater imaging data of 1 m vertical resolution for two ecological studies, which focused on the role of lipids in triggering migration to diapause in Arctic copepods, as well as the fine-scale vertical coupling of copepods with their phytoplankton food.

Moritz joined the Plankton Ecology Lab at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University to further work on underwater imaging and plankton ecology using the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS). This includes the methodological advancement of underwater imaging and automatic identification, as well as studying the ecology of zoo- and ichthyoplankton in the Straits of Florida and off the Oregon Coast.



Miram Gleiber

(2014-) PhD Candidate  gleiberm@oregonstate.edu

I am a PhD student working with the Sponaugle-Cowen Lab on an NSF-funded project: Observations of Subtropical Trophodynamics of Icthyoplankton in the Straits of Florida (OSTRICH). I am studying how small- to large-scale patchiness of zooplankton prey influence the larval fish community, and their predator-prey dynamics. I will be examining larval fish gut content, recent daily growth from otolith microstructure, and lipid composition to infer biological consequences of patchiness on larval fish growth and survival.

My research at OSU is both a taxonomic and geographic transition from my prior work in zooplankton ecology. I completed a Master’s degree with Dr. Deborah Steinberg at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science studying long-term changes in the Western Antarctic Peninsula copepod community, due to rapid regional climate change. I also examined the role of copepods in carbon cycling, through grazing of phytoplankton and fecal pellet production and export.

Google Scholar | Research Gate | CV


Daniel Ottmann

(2014-2016) MS  ottmannd@science.oregonstate.edu

Dani’s MS research is focused on the settlement of rockfishes and Cabazon to the Oregon coast. He is collaborating with Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert (OSU), the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium to examine patchiness in juvenile recruitment to marine reserves and non-reserve comparison areas off the coast of Oregon.


Will Fennie (2015-) PhD Student hfennie@mlml.calstate.edu

Will came to OSU after completing a Masters in Marine Science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML). At MLML, Will worked with Scott Hamilton and  studied the effects of elevated CO2 on the behavior and physiology of juvenile rockfishes. There he found that different species of rockfish differed in their response to CO2 and that early life history characteristics of rockfishes influence their response. Will is excited to continue studying the early life history of rockfishes at OSU with Su Sponaugle. Here he hopes to understand how environmental conditions experienced during larval and pelagic juvenile phases affect the diets, growth, and post settlment mortality of Oregon's rockfishes. Will is also interested in understanding how Oregon's marine protected areas affect the diets, growth, and mortality of settled juvenile rockfishes.


Kelsey Swieca (2016-) PhD Student swiecak@oregonstate.edu

Kelsey joined the Sponaugle Plankton Ecology lab Summer 2016. Her PhD research will utilize the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS) to investigate fine-to-coarse scale distributions of recreationally, commercially and ecological important larval fish in the California Current. 


 Kelia Axler (2016-) MS Student axlerk@oregonstate.edu

Kelia joined the Plankton Ecology lab in the fall of 2016 after spending a few years working in the Gulf of Mexico on a variety of post-oil spill assessments. Her MS research will examine the influence of pulsed-river plume events and seasonal hypoxia on the spatio-temporal distributions, growth, and survival of larval fishes in the northern Gulf. This research will contribute to an improved ability to predict the impacts of environmental disturbances (e.g., oil spills) on the highly sensitive, early life stages of regionally and economically important fish communities in the hydrographically complex northern Gulf.


Miles McCall (2015-) Student Research Assistant

Associated Lab Members:

Dr. Kelly Robinson 

(2014-2016) Assistant Professor of Coastal Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, kelly.robionson@louisiana.edu

I collaborate with the Sponaugle/Cowen Lab on their NSF-funded project: Observations of Subtropical Trophodynamics of Ichthyoplankton in the Straits of Florida (OSTRICH). I have a doctorate in marine science from the University of South Alabama and a Master’s degree in fisheries and aquatic science from the University of Florida. My research interests as a coastal biological oceanographer are broadly aimed at the effects of climate-driven processes on marine zooplankton production and distribution, with an emphasis on gelatinous plankton predators (i.e. jellyfish). I am particularly interested in how climate forcing alters trophic interactions and energy transfer between marine zooplankton groups, planktivorous fish, and their predators. To address questions related to this topic, I use a combination of experimental lab work, field studies, and modeling (including spatial analysis and food web modeling). For the OSTRICH project, I am examining using DPI images: 1) at what scales are organisms (larval fish, prey, and predators) aggregated, or random, 2) how fine-scale patchiness scale up in different environmental conditions and physical settings, and 3) if patchiness of larval fishes scale with that of their prey and predators. I have also been involved with the National Data Science Bowl, a machine learning competition to improve automatic plankton image classifications.

CV | Google Scholar | Twitter: @KellyRobinson0 | LinkedIn | ResearchGate


Dr. Jessica Luo

 (2010-2016) Postdoctoral Scholar, National Center for Atmospheric Research, jluo@ucar.edu

Jessica is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Climate and Global Dynamics Lab, Oceanography section at that National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. She was formerly a postdoctoral scholar the Cowen-Sponaugle Lab, after completing her Ph.D. under Bob Cowen in 2015. Jessica uses the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS) to study the ecology of gelatinous zooplankton with the hopes of better understanding their role in marine ecosystems. Specifically, she is interested in the fine-scale bio-physical factors, such as fronts and vertical migration, that structure plankton distributions. Additionally, she is interested in biogeochemical cycling and the role of gelatinous zooplankton in the carbon cycle, and is exploring those questions with modeling techniques. For her postdoc, Jessica is participating in the OSTRICH project and investigating how zooplankton communities change over fine time scales.

During her graduate tenure, Jessica was involved with a variety of side projects: Plankton Portal (http://www.planktonportal.org), an online citizen science project for classifying plankton images, and the National Data Science Bowl (https://www.kaggle.com/c/datasciencebowl), a machine learning competition to improve automatic plankton classifications. Previously, she worked in marine education and outreach at Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Jessica got her BA and MS degrees in 2007 from Stanford University, where she studied the chemical oceanography of Red Sea copepods. Through her PhD, Jessica was supported by the University of Miami Robert C. Maytag Fellowship and a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. (CV pdf)


Cedric Guigand

(2000-2016) Senior Research Associate II cguigand@rsmas.miami.edu

After earning a Master of Science in Marine Biology in 2002 at Florida Tech, I started working at RSMAS under the direction of Dr. R. K. Cowen. Even though my background is in fish functional morphology, I have personal interests in new technologies and engineering, which allow me to understand the technical needs of biologists and propose new approaches to answer scientific questions. My main contribution to the research done in this laboratory is problem solving and design of new field sampling and lab experimental systems ranging from hybrid multiple net systems to underwater video such as ISIIS and OWNFOR. I collaborate with an engineering companie (Bellamare, LLC) in designing custom instruments for RSMAS researchers as well as other universities. Additionally, I manage the logistics of the laboratory as well as the operations at sea. I also collaborate with students and researchers in research projects, grant and manuscript writing.