Research Associate

Ariana is a research associate at the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory. She completed her PhD at Portland State University in Oregon as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and ESUR IGERT Fellow, with a Certificate of Innovation in College Teaching and was most recently a postdoctoral associate at the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory. 

At UVM, Ariana is studying the food web structure of Lake Champlain’s forage fish community to understand the potential consequences of a looming quagga mussel invasion. Quagga mussels will likely change the distribution of basal energy resources in the lake, which could hurt populations of alewife and smelt – important prey species for lake trout. Ariana is using stable isotope analysis and gut content analysis to map out the current energy pathways that support these forage fish, so that fisheries managers can adapt to protect the resiliency of Lake Champlain’s fishery.

For her doctorate research, Ariana collaborated with the National Parks Service, US Geological Survey, and scientists at the WasserCluster Lunz Research Center in Austria to understand how mercury bioaccumulates in mountain lake food webs, and the resulting implications for lake management. She also enjoys interdisciplinary work and is interested in the social and ecological implications of toxic chemical production and use.


  • Chiapella, A.M., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Strecker, A.S. From forests to fish: Mercury in mountain lake food webs influenced by factors at multiple scales. Limnology and Oceanography. In review.
  • Chiapella, A.M., Kainz, M.J., Strecker, A.S. Can fatty acid stable isotopes overcome the diet-tracing challenges of bulk stable isotope approaches? In prep.
  • Chiapella, A.M*., Grabowski, Z.J.*, Rozance, M.*, Denton, A., Alattar, M., Granek, E.F. (2019). Toxic Chemical Governance Failure in the USA: Key Lessons and Paths Forward. BioScience, 69 (8), 615-630.
    *authors contributed equally
  • Grabowski, Z.J., Chiapella, A.M., Rozance, M., Denton, A., Alattar, M., Granek, E.F. (2019). Response to "Toxic Chemical Governance Needs to Address Trade-offs to Make it Work” (Callow 2019). BioScience. In press.
  • Chiapella, A. M., Nielsen-Pincus, M., & Strecker, A. L. (2018). Public perceptions of mountain lake fisheries management in national parks. Journal of environmental management, 226, 169-179.
  • (report) Chiapella, A., Strecker, A., Eagles-Smith, C. A Stable Isotope Approach to Understanding Contaminant Distribution in Food Webs of Montane Lakes. North Coast and Cascades Network, National Park Service. 2016. In press.
Ariana Chiapella

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Instructional program: Wildlife and Fisheries Biology
Research: Food web ecology, stable isotope ecology, mercury bioaccumulation


  • PhD - Earth Environment, and Society, Portland State University
  • BA - Environmental Studies, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts