Moira Décima : Assistant Professor and SIO PIC Curator

Moira Décima

Assistant Professor and SIO PIC Curator

Dr. Décima's interests include zooplankton ecology, marine pelagic food-webs, gelatinous zooplankton, and carbon and nutrient cycling. The Décima lab is currently focusing on:

  • Quantifying trophic pathways within the lower pelagic food-web using experiments, stable isotopes, pigment-based estimates, and modelling approaches.
  • Understanding the effects of crustacean zooplankton  on the marine food-web and carbon export.
  • Understanding the role of pelagic tunicates, primarily salps and pyrosomes, in marine food-webs and their effects on biogeochemistry.
  • Assessing the effects of warming and acidification on marine plankton assemblages.
  • Understanding the effects of wildfires on marine pelagic biological communities.

These research areas are investigated in various regions of the world, including: the California Current, the Southwest Pacific, the Ross Sea, the Indian Ocean, the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, and the Eastern Equatorial Pacific.

Dr. Décima is also the curator of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Pelagic Invertebrate Collection (SIO- PIC), one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of pelagic invertebrates in the world.

Dante Capone : PhD Student

Dante Capone

PhD Student

Dante is a 2nd year PhD Student in Biological Oceanography hailing from Sebastopol in Northern California. He earned a BS in Earth Sciences-Ocean Sciences concentration and a BS in Marine Biology from University of California, Santa Cruz. After spending his final quarter studying abroad at the University of Queensland he returned to Sebastopol to work in the Coastal Oceanography Group at the Bodega Bay Marine Lab.

The intense California wildfires during Dante's first research cruise in August 2020 inspired his research interests in the effects of the wildfires on the marine environment. For his dissertation research Dante is examining how smoke and ash from wildfires may impact the carbon cycle and the pelagic planktonic community in the California Current ecosystem. Dante is also a member of the Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research (PIER), seeking to collaborate with non-scientist experts, especially artists to make findings more accessible.

Outside of research Dante enjoys physical activity especially running, yoga, skateboarding, cycling, and swimming and is a member of the San Diego Track Club Elite running group. Dante also likes to work his creative side through sourdough bread baking and art. After a long lab day at SIO, Dante's go to refreshment is a dip in the Pacific ocean.

Grace Cawley : PhD Student

Grace Cawley

PhD Student

Grace is a 1st year PhD student originally from Salem, Massachusetts. Grace attended University of San Diego from 2015-2020, earning a BA and then MS in Environmental and Ocean Sciences (Marine Ecology pathway). Her thesis research with Dr. Jennifer Prairie focused on the ingestion and selection of marine snow by copepods.

In joining the Decima Lab, Grace plans to continue working with zooplankton by studying their role in mediating remineralization of various elements. Although her thesis work left her with a passion for copepods, she has developed a soft spot for gelatinous zooplankton such as pyrosomes.

Anya Štajner : PhD Student

Anya Štajner

PhD Student

Anya Štajner is a PhD student in the biological oceanography program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She completed her undergraduate’s degree at the University of California, Davis where she studied Marine and Coastal Sciences with an Emphasis in Organismal Biology and Ecology. She did undergraduate research on teleost fish morphology as well as factors affecting the consumption rates of larval fish by juvenile velella velellas.

In graduate school, Anya is interested in determining how California fires affect our ocean and plans to look at the affects of ash on phytoplankton communities. When she’s not studying Anya brews kombucha, runs the collective blog for women in science SciGal Collective, and produces episodes of her pop-marine-science podcast, Wet.

Annie Effinger : Master's student

Annie Effinger

Master's student

Annie is a first-year graduate student in the marine biology department at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Annie earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California, San Diego in 2022, where she also studied marine biology and zooplankton ecology in the Décima Lab. For her master's, Annie is studying zooplankton in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), specifically assessing the grazing impact of size-fractionated zooplankton in areas of the CCE characterized by different temperature and chlorophyll a concentrations, and relate it to zooplankton standing stocks, phytoplankton standing stocks, and ecosystem characteristics.
When she is not working in the lab or studying, Annie can be found rock climbing all over San Diego. Her other hobbies include swimming, hiking, and photography. Her favorite zooplankton is currently an ostracod because they look like jellybeans.

Hannah Budroe : Undergraduate Reseacher

Hannah Budroe

Undergraduate Reseacher

Hannah is a 4th year undergraduate student currently pursuing an honors thesis using bioinformatics to study the zooplankton composition relating to environmental conditions in different water masses near New Zealand. She will be graduating with a BS in General Biology and a BA in History of Science. Previously, she has performed research developing gene-editing technologies for prevention of vector-borne diseases and pest control in Drosophila. She first joined the Décima Lab in summer 2022 as an undergraduate research fellow studying zooplankton composition in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) as part of the CCE LTER REU program.
In her free time, Hannah also enjoys STEM outreach, works in the Basic Needs Department on campus, and has a variety of grandma-esque hobbies, including reading, going for walks, and crocheting. She also enjoys playing various instruments and rock climbing (when she doesn't fall off the wall).

Jessell Lasam : Undergraduate Reseacher

Jessell Lasam

Undergraduate Reseacher

Jessell is an undergraduate working on her Environmental Systems (EBE) major internship. She is closely working with size-fractionated zooplankton samples to furthering her understanding of food-web dynamics of the California Current Ecosystem and how environmental variables could effect zooplankton communities in the area.

Tori Burns :

Tori Burns

Tori is a chemical engineer and pteropod imaging expert. She started as a CCE LTER REU and continues to use Scanning Electron Microscopy imaging for quantifying pteropod shell dissolution.

Past Lab Members