The Geology Lab hosts several graduate students working on their M.S. in Marine Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Ivano Aiello, but also post-Doctoral students, visiting Ph.D. students as well as undergraduates working in the lab as interns.

The students in the Geology Lab work on a variety of projects several of which are cross-disciplinaries. All student projects are possible because of the diversity of tools that the lab has to offer (see lab equipment) and because of the expertise in different fields of marine sciences offered by MLML’s faculty and staff.


Dorota Szuta

funI began my graduate career at Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2012 under the guidance of  Dr. Ivano Aiello of the Geological Oceanography lab and Dr. Stacy Kim of the Benthic Ecology lab. Prior to that, I earned my BS degree in Marine Biology at UC Santa Cruz in 2009.  I worked in the Benthic Ecology lab as a field diver, lab tech, and taxonomist for two years after finishing my undergraduate degree. My thesis work examines the zonation of benthic invertebrate communities under ice in Antarctica using an ROV.

Additionally, I am interested in using creative means in science communication. Last year, fellow geo student Christine Mann and I made a short video in which we explained the theory of plate tectonics using primarily stop motion animation. Check it out here:

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Clint Collins

McMurdo2012DSCN3121I am a a graduate student with Ivano Aiello and Stacy Kim at Moss Landing Marine Labs, after graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Marine Biology in 2010. Following college I worked for MLML and UCSC as a Biological Science Technician, as well as working part-time as a commercial diver. For my thesis work, I will be studying the succession of seafloor communities following an iceberg scour in Antarctica. Free-floating icebergs often come in contact with the seafloor, clearing large patches and opening up space for colonization. This research will be conducted in shallow sites accessible by scuba and deeper sites that require the use of our ROV. I am curious how increased disturbance of the seafloor, brought about by a warming climate and increase of free-floating ice, will alter these communities in years to come.

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Christine Mann

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Christine is currently a Master’s student co-advised by both Dr. Ivano Aiello of the Geological Oceanography Lab and Dr. John Oliver of the Benthic Ecology Lab. She graduated from Truman State University in Missouri with a B.S. in Biology in 2011. She is interested in carrying out research in Elkhorn Slough, examining benthic invertebrates and how they are influenced by the anthropogenic disturbances and overall changes occurring in the slough.

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Kenji Soto

Kenji_fishFrom a very young age Kenji knew that he wanted his future to involve the ocean, whether it be studying it, playing in it, or just living near it.  In 2010, Kenji graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Marine Biology.  He spent the next year volunteering as a guide for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, in an aquaponics greenhouse, and in the Ichthyology Lab at MLML.  After this, he began to work for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a Scientific Aide for the California Recreational Fisheries Study project and plans to keep working there through his time as a student at MLML.  As a scientific aide for this project he interviews sport anglers and collects hatchery tagged salmon heads (much to the anglers’ chagrin when they discover they cannot take their salmon heads home).  Through his volunteering at MLML, Kenji discovered more about its community, projects, degree intensity, and focus on field research.  Because all of these aspects appealed to him, he applied to MLML and started his graduate studies in the fall of 2013.  Kenji is interested in deep sea ecology and the extremophiles that make up hydrothermal vent and whale fall communities.

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Vera Lawson

veraI have always loved rocks. I suppose I took my first geology field trip when I was four and accompanied my father and his coworker in a canoe down an Amazon river. They were looking for gravel that could be used for building roads through the Bolivian jungle. Many years later I majored in chemistry, and now I have high school teaching certification in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts, in math and science. The earth sciences still fascinate me, so while staying at home to raise our four children I took courses at six different universities to prepare to earn a master’s degree in geology. My husband is in the Army, and we have lived all over the world. The privilege of living in Bolivia, Ecuador, Germany, and Puerto Rico as well as in many places in the United States, has given my personal study of the earth sciences a unique perspective. Now that I am in California, and our children are almost out of the house, pursuing a Masters in Marine Science at Moss Landing Marine Labs is a step toward fulfilling my dream of teaching science at the undergraduate level. My interests have been in geology, but as I took Geological Oceanography at Moss Landing as an Open University student, I realized that much can be learned about the ocean and climate from sediments on land, and much can be learned about the continents and the earth’s history by studying the oceans. Now I am an aspiring marine geologist, studying the rocks and the sediments of the Bering Sea, looking for clues that reveal the earth’s past.

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