Max Zavell (PhD student)

Max Zavell started as a PhD student in our lab in fall 2020, after graduating in May 2020 with his Bachelor from the University of Rhode Island. Max worked experimentally on questions of coastal fish and climate change. In addition to Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia), his work on Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) has broken new ground for our lab. Growth, physiology, and sex determination of this northernmost grouper species are of great interest, given its recent, explosive increase in abundance in Long Island Sound and the larger northwest Atlantic shelf. Over two fall and winter seasons, Max conducted ambitious long-term rearing experiments on juvenile and adult Black Sea Bass to study how overwintering could be the key to understand the species particularly pronounced increase in Long Island Sound. He was particularly adept at mentoring and integrating undergraduate students (Matthew Mouland, Devan Barnum), was an active member of the graduate student community in our department and helped in many aspects of other research.

On 18 April 2024, after only three and a half years, Max defended his PhD thesis titled "Experimental assessment of ocean warming and acidification effects on multiple life stages of Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata". A big, heartfelt congratulations from the entire lab!

Max already published a first chapter of his PhD thesis in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society:

Another chapter is currently in revision for Environmental Biology of Fishes

  • Zavell, M.D. and Baumann, H. Resiliency of Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata, early life stages to future high CO2 conditions Environmental Biology of Fishes (in revision)

In addition, Max published another article outside of his PhD research

Max is now beginning a new chapter of life and science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he will oversee the large and growing research program on offshore wind energy. Max can be reached at

Kelli Mosca (MS student, 2020-2022)


Kelli Mosca received a Bachelors degree from the University of New Haven in spring 2017 and started in January 2020 as a graduate student in the Fish Ecology Lab. She had already become a dedicated seasonal worker at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP), where she assisted particularly with the sturgeon monitoring program. This has made her the perfect candidate to work on our CT SeaGrant project to look at age and telemetry data of Atlantic Sturgeon in Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River. Kelli worked hard and independently, mastering not only the technical aspects of the project but also the challenges imposed by the COVID pandemic that sadly marked her entire time as a graduate student. Undeterred, Kelli graduated with her Masters on 21 March 2022, presenting her thesis titled

"Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) Growth and Habitat Use in the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound" (Link to recording).

Kelli was an inspirational and cherished member of the Baumann lab, and her dedication and continued work for CTDEEP were rewarded by an offer for a CTDEEP Fishery Biologist I position, which she has wholeheartedly accepted. Congratulations Kelli, and all the best for the next steps in your career!

You can read more about Kelli from this UConn Today Alumni profile (7 May 2022)

A manuscript derived from Kelli's thesis research was recently submitted to Endangered Species Research

  • Mosca, K.C., Savoy, T., R. Benway, J., Schultz, E.T., and Baumann, H.
    Long-term growth and telemetry data do not support a re-emergence of Atlantic sturgeon spawning in the Connecticut River
    Endangered Species Research (in review)

You can reach Kelli now at

Callie Concannon (MS student, 2018-2020)

Callie Concannon started in our lab in fall 2018 after getting her Bachelors from the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. For her Master's thesis research, she pursued an important but tricky question whether high CO2 environments result in measurable changes in the reproductive output (fecundity, oocyte size) of fishes. In summer of 2018, she took over a long-term rearing experiment on Atlantic silversides, and then used macroscopic and histological analyses to diligently examine the males and females from each CO2 and temperature-specific treatment.

Callie graduated in December 2020 after presenting and submitting her thesis that is publicly available from the Connecticut Archives:

Callie's Master thesis research has been published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science

Callie was a great lab member and a team spirit who will no doubt be missed the next time we go beach seining!
She can still be reached via her UConn email address or on Twitter

Emma Cross (Post-doctoral researcher 2017-2019)


Emma Cross joined our team in September 2017, after receiving her PhD from Cambridge University, UK, in August 2016. Her previous work focused on the CO2-sensitivity of polar and temperate brachiopods, a group of ancient, sessile calcifiers that build large shells but are unrelated to mollusks. In our lab, Emma transitioned to working with fish, particularly Atlantic silversides, testing how fluctuating pH and oxygen environments typical of nearshore environments affect early life survival and growth. Emma was also instrumental in all of our follow-up, ongoing work on sand lance sensitivity to ocean warming and acidification.

Emma was an incredible enrichment to our lab, and has now (September 2019) started her new faculty position as Assistant Professor in Coastal/Marine Science at Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven, CT). Her proximity will sure enable lots of collaborative work in the future!

Four recent publications of Emma:

[ocean acidification, hypoxia, Atlantic silverside, nearshore pH and oxygen fluctuations, transgenerational effects, climate change] | Emma Cross publications

Chris Murray (PhD student 2014-2019)


Christopher Murray started his PhD at UConn/Avery Point in September 2014, after finishing his MS in May 2014 at Stony Brook University, NY. While building on his experience in ocean acidification research, for his PhD he studyied multi-stressor effects of OA and hypoxia on coastal marine fishes. He had an outstanding, large part in designing and building ALFiRiS, our automated larval fish rearing system in UConn Rankin Seawater lab. After 4 phenomenally productive years, Chris defended his PhD in December 2018 and graduated in May 2019 with this PhD from UConn.
His thesis titled

An experimental evaluation of the sensitivity of coastal marine fishers acidification, hypoxia, and warming

is publicly available at the OpenCommons Site of the UConn Library.

After a productive post-doc on the west coast with the University of Washington (2019-2021), Chris wrote a successful NSF postdoctoral fellowship proposal and is thus currently working with Neel Aluru (Aluru Lab) at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, taking Atlantic silverside research to new levels. And he recently became a co-PI on our new sand lance grant, thereby ensuring further scientific productivity together.

Chris can be reached at

Publications of Chris from his time at UConn:

[ocean acidification, hypoxia, Atlantic silverside, sand lance, transgenerational effects, climate change] | Chris' publications

Deanna Elliott (NSF REU student 2019)


Deanna Elliott is a junior at Arizona State University who joined the Baumann lab in summer 2019 as our third NSF-REU student. Deanna has experimented with locusts before, but now became an expert fish rearer. For her REU-project she reared Atlantic silverside larvae under different feeding regimes to create fish of different body sizes and then analyzed them for trace levels of mercury in their tissue. She tested the hypothesis that mercury concentrations in fish can be used as a proxy for ingestion rates, which are important to trophic ecosystem models to perform better.Great job, Deanna!

[Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia, mercury, ingestion rates]

Julie Pringle (MS student 2016-18)


Julie Pringle started her MS in the Baumann lab in September 2016 and graduated in December 2018. During her time, Julie painstakingly investigated the growth and selective survival in juvenile Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) collected in fall 2015 in Mumford Cove. She was the first student in our lab to fully use our Image Analysis system, counting more than 30,000 individual increments in 300 of her selected specimens. Her research shed new light on a particularly intriguing aspect of silverside life history; i.e., that this species exhibits temperature-dependent sex determination. Under laboratory conditions, colder temperatures produce more females than warmer temperatures, which should lead to females being born earlier during the season than males. However, Julie's study showed that survivors at the end of the growing season consist of more females than expected and that those females were larger NOT because they were born earlier, but because they grew significantly faster than their male conspecifics.During her time, Julie never shied away from selflessly helping other students and the lab with tasks unrelated to her thesis, something we truly loved about her and will always be grateful for. She also became a brilliant Teaching Assistant and was a loved and active member of the graduate student community.

Julie has moved back now to Martha's Vineyard, where she started her new position as Field Science Coordinator for the local Great Pond Foundation. Julie says:

"There's a really an amazing network of wildlife biologists at various organizations on the Vineyard, and I'm very excited to be working side-by-side with so many, who originally encouraged me to become a scientist. I'll be doing field work, but also data analysis and working with interns, so it will be a fun combination of different types of work."

Julie's Masters Thesis "Sex-Specific Hatch and Growth Patterns in Young-of-the-Year Atlantic Silversides (Menidia menidia, Atherinopsidae) from Mumford Cove, Connecticut" is accessible via the OpenCommons Site of the UConn Library.

Julie's thesis research has recently been published in Marine Ecology Progress Series:

[Atlantic silverside, climate change, Mumford Cove, otolith microstructure analysis, growth, selective survival]

Sydney Stark (NSF REU student 2018)


Sydney Stark  joined our lab from June to August 2018 as our second REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) student in collaboration with Mystic Aquarium. Sydney is a Junior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and interested in aspects of marine conservation and effects of climate change. Sydney spend her summer testing a prototype of a light trap designed to catch larval and juvenile fish and used it to infer seasonal patterns of ichthyoplankton abundance in nearshore Long Island Sound. In just a short period of time, Sydney became a true ichthyoplankton taxonomist and found that light traps truly work in our waters. Well done Sydney, and all the best for the next career steps!In her hometown, Sydney's REU project already received coverage by the local newspaper. See here!

Check out some of Sydney's best larval fish pictures below:

[Long Island Sound, ichthyoplankton, light trap, otolith, Atlantic silverside, Menhaden]

Jacob Snyder (MS student 2015-17)

Jacob Snyder joined the lab in September 2015 and graduated in December 2017 with his Master's degree. For his Master's thesis, Jake painstakingly took it upon himself to retrieve and digitize the 40+ year time series of environmental observations from Project Oceanology. This non-profit ocean literacy organization has educated middle and high school students on boat trips to nearby estuarine sites for decades. For the first time, his work allowed a quantitative evaluation of these data and glimpses into the abiotic and biotic changes in nearshore waters of Eastern Long Island Sound.A research paper based on Jake's thesis was published in March 2019 in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Environmental Research.

During his time at the Baumann lab, Jake also conducted experiments on potential maternal effects and their influence on offspring CO2 sensitivity, published 2018 in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

[ocean acidification, hypoxia, Atlantic silverside, climate change, long-term data set, Long Island Sound] | Jake's website

James Harrington (technician)


James Harrington  joined the team in May 2017 to help with our various endeavors rearing fish in the Rankin Lab. He is currently maintaining population crosses of Atlantic silversides from different locations along the Atlantic Coast, which together with our colleagues from Cornell will facilitate describing and annotating the genome of this species. He is also helping with our biweekly beach seine surveys, assisting Chris with large factorial CO2 x O2 experiments on Atlantic silverside offspring, and has lent a hand to our REU student Elle with her summer work.He's is currently working as an instructor for the New England Science & Sailing Foundation (NESS) in Stonington, CT

[Atlantic silverside, genome, Mumford Cove, RNA, growth]

Elle Parks (NSF REU student 2017)


Elle Parks  joined our lab from June to August 2017 as the first REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) student on a recently funded NSF REU project in collaboration with Mystic Aquarium. She is a Junior at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and interested in aspects of marine conservation and effects of climate change. Her project looked at the presumed metabolic costs of high CO2 environments on fish larvae. Elle co-authored a manuscript that resulted from her work

[Atlantic silverside, ocean acidification, starvation, costs]