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Natasha (Tasha) Gownaris is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Department at Gettysburg College. Tasha has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and Biology (Gettysburg), a PhD in Marine Sciences (Stony Brook University), and a post-doc in Biology from the University of Washington. Tasha's research focuses on the foraging ecology of fishes and seabirds.


In addition to her research, Tasha is passionate about conservation, open science, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in science and academia, and teaching students data literacy skills. She is currently the co-lead of the Global Young Academy Open Science Working Group, a member of the Lake Turkana Advisory Group, an Associate Editor of the open access journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence, and chair of the Education and Outreach Committee of the Society for Open, Reproducible, and Transparent Research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Tasha is also really into hanging out with her adopted Dusky Conures, cooking, and hiking.


Twitter: @TashaGownaris


Current Students


Alexis Berkey is a current sophomore at GBC, majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Mathematics. She joined the Gownaris Lab in Spring 2024 and is so excited to be working with Tasha and everyone! She will be helping conduct stable isotope sample analysis and processing.

Outside of lab, Alexis is part of the rock climbing club on campus and is the the Safety Officer for Pan Fried Funk, Gettysburg’s Ultimate Frisbee team. She also enjoys spending time with her friends, hanging out with her cat, and going thrifting.

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Jesse Osborn Watara is a first-year student hailing from Ghana. His is pursuing a major in biochemistry and molecular biology and a minor in data science. He actively participates in the biosphere and skeptical chemists club, nurturing his passion for scientific inquiry. Jesse recently joined the Gownaris lab to help with stable isotope sample processing. Jesse says "My fondness for laboratory work stems from the desire to enhance my skill set for future career prospects. I'm particularly drawn to research involving nature, spanning from bird studies to plant biology. Collaborating with a diverse group of peers and experienced professors further fuels my enthusiasm, enriching my academic journey."

Outside of academics, Jesse cherishes spending quality time with friends, engaging in games like chess, and participating in ambassadorial activities. Soccer holds a special place in his heart, and he is proud to be a member of the Gettysburg soccer club.

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Janhi Ong is a sophomore majoring in Mathematical Economics and Data Science at Gettysburg College. Her job involves sorting through complex data as a detective, often from the past. She chose to join the lab because she saw it as an excellent opportunity to learn from a diverse group of people. Moreover, growing up in Da Nang, a city surrounded by nature, inspired her to contribute to environmental causes even during her high school years.

During the weekend, Janhi love cooking Vietnamese dishes and baking while calling my parents to update on her life. She also spends around 15 minutes every day to reading, because she finds it incredibly relaxing. Additionally, she enjoy capturing moments with friends through photography to cherish those memories.

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Ninh (Naomi) Nguyen is a junior majoring in Health Sciences with Business and Data Sciences minor. She has been with the lab since Spring 2024 and her main role is to manage and analyze data of seabirds in the Gulf of Maine. Joining the lab with the hope to learn more about analyzing big data sets, she also gets to learn more about birds and their interesting lifestyle.

Outside of lab, she loves to binge watch movies, doing the daily Wordle, cooking and going to concerts. On campus, she is a barista, a board member for Asian Student Alliance, and a dedicated member to Vietnamese Student Association who loves their food events.

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Leah Nath is a current sophomore and Environmental Studies major at Gettysburg College. She has been working with the Gownaris Lab since the fall of 2023 to edit and improve the accessibility of the Ecology for All! textbook.

Outside of the lab, Leah sings in the Sunderman Conservatory of Music’s College Choir and works at Gettysburg College’s Campus Safety. She also will be working as an Environmental Journalist intern with the Gettysburg Connection in the spring of 2024. Leah enjoys reading, writing, playing piano, spending time outside, and playing with her kitten.  

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Huy Ngo is a sophomore majoring in Computer Science and has been working in the Gownaris Lab to develop a field data collection app for seabirds in the Gulf of Maine since Spring 2023. Huy: "Witnessing the intriguing behaviours of seabirds during this project really makes me more curious about the natural world. I'm excited to stay with the team and be able to help the researchers collect data faster and more efficiently than ever before."

Aside from the technical information, he really likes playing video games and cooking. He mostly cooks Vietnamese dishes at home but often like to go out and enjoy other cuisines. He also have a love for movies and finds that catching up on them during lunch or dinner adds a touch of leisure and enjoyment to my day.

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Linh Dam is a current senior pursuing a major in Computer Science and a minor in Data Science and has worked in the Gownaris Lab since Spring 2023. She is currently collaborating with another student to develop field data collection systems for the Gulf of Maine. The app they have built will allow researchers to quickly and efficiently input seabirds' feeding habits while on islands.  


Despite having limited knowledge of ES, Linh finds the seabirds really cute, although their complicated feeding behaviors have posed a challenge when coding the app. Outside of class, Linh enjoys reading books recommended by TikTok, despite not having an account yet. She also likes to participate in events organized by the Vietnamese Student Association, where she can enjoy traditional Vietnamese food and play games.

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Jocelyn Little is a current Sophomore at Gettysburg College pursuing an Environmental Studies major and Biology minor.. She will be spending the summer of 2023 at Petit Manan Island in the Gulf of Maine with the Gownaris Lab in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 


Outside of the lab, Jocie works as a tour guide in the Admissions Office and sings in the Sunderman Conservatory of Music’s College Choir. Other on-campus activities include acting on stage with the Owl and Nightingale Theater Club, volunteering through the Center for Public Service, and participating as an active member of the music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota. Jocelyn also enjoys hiking, watching baseball and soccer, and spending time with her two dogs.


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Michael McCarty is a current junior with a Biology major and minors in Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Gettysburg College. In the Gownaris lab, Michael helps to process and package eggshell membrane, fish, and invertebrate samples for stable isotope analysis. The resulting data will shed light on how sea birds are responding to changing climate in the Gulf of Maine. Michael will be starting an undergraduate research project that focuses on changes in alcid phenology in the Gulf of Maine.


Outside of lab, Michael enjoys running, hiking, and rock climbing as well as gaming or watching shows with friends. On campus, he is the Vice President of Pan Fried Funk, the ultimate frisbee team.

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Logan Becker is a current sophomore at Gettysburg College and is pursuing an Environmental Studies major along with a Biology and a Data Science Minor. In the lab, Logan helps with stable isotope sample processing and oversees care of the two teaching aquaria (including the always hungry anenomes, "David" and "Bowie"). He will be spending 8 weeks on Petit Manan Island in the Gulf of Maine in the summer of 2023 in collaboration with US Fish and Wildlife Service. His research project will focus on GPS data on common and Arctic terns from Petit Manan Island. The aim of this project is to examine how terns alter their foraging behavior in response to warming events, along with how responses vary across individuals, thus influencing fitness.


Outside of the lab Logan enjoys horseback riding, hanging out with animals, exploring nature, and gardening.


Jamie Dinella is a current junior pursuing an Environmental Studies (B.S)  major along with a data science and biology minor. Her research project focuses on phenological shifts in the Gulf of Maine and its effects on tern diet, breeding synchrony, and reproductive success. How individual seabirds adapt to change in this system is of utmost imporatnce as sea surface temperatures are increasing at a steady rate, which is altering the abiotic conditions as well as the prey availability over time. Through the analysis of eggshell isotope data and long-term datasets on breeding and hatch dates, this project will explore the phenotypic plasticity, the variability in individual responses to environmental conditions, across common and Arctic terns. 


Outside of the lab, Jamie enjoys crocheting everything from hats to stuffed animals, and going for battlefield walks. Her on campus activities include participating in chamber music ensembles, and previously serving as the concertmaster of the Sunderman Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. She also spends her free time helping out in the Gettysburg College greenhouse and loves being a plant mom to her dorm plants.


Fledged Students


Kaiulani Sund is a current senior pursuing an Environmental Studies major with a Data Science minor. Her research project focuses on the diet flexibility of common and Arctic terns in the Gulf of Maine. The aim of this project is to examine if terns with a higher diet flexibility will have higher reproductive success which will be determined by chick growth and fledge status. Fine temporal scale provisioning data along with sea surface temperature data will provide insight into diet items and ocean conditions.

Outside of lab, Kaiulani enjoys horseback riding, reading and movie nights with friends. Her on-campus activities include being Public Relations for Gettysburg Environmental Concerns Organization (G.E.C.O) and the Gettysburg Equestrian Team. 


Jehan Mody is a current junior pursuing an Environmental Studies and Biology double major at Gettysburg College. Jehan spent eight weeks on Petit Manan Island in the Gulf of Maine over the summer of 2022 and helped with eggshell sample processing in Fall 2022. Jehan has since become interested in cell biology and will be working on cancer cell research over AY '23-24.


Outside of lab, Jehan is an avid soccer fan and enjoys hiking and producing music on his computer. His on campus activities include serving as the President of the Biosphere club, being a Community Advisor for the ResEd office, and working as a Fitness Attendant at the Jaeger Center. 



Hayden Dubniczki graduated from Gettysburg College in 2022 with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in East Asian Studies. She acted as assistant to Dr. Natasha Gownaris and Dr. Andy Wilson, who received a grant from PA GOAL to develop an open textbook for intermediate-level ecology courses. In this role, Hayden developed spotlights on diverse scientists to include as case studies in the OER. She also provided a student’s perspective in reviewing textbook materials. Hayden is now pursuing a Master in Environmental Management at Duke University.


Outside of the lab, Hayden enjoys tending to her succulents, learning new languages, and painting. Her on-campus activities while at Gettysburg included working as a Chinese tutor, managing responsibilities as an active member of Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity, and leading hiking/kayaking expeditions as a GRAB (Gettysburg Recreational Activities Board) student facilitator. When she’s not in the library, you can find her caring for her White’s Tree Frog.



Julia Sharapi graduated from Gettysburg College in 2022 with a major in Environmental Studies and Chemistry. Her research at Gettysburg focused on the food web of Lake Turkana, which is located in northern Kenya. The aim of this project was to use stable isotope data to model the current structure of Lake Turkana’s food web in R, and to compare these results to previously constructed food web models to determine how the system has changed due to hydrological development in the region. Julia recently joined the Capps lab at the University of Georgia, where she was also selected for an assistantship with the Center for Applied Isotope Studies.


Outside of lab, Julia loves finding new places to hike, reading, and staring new art projects. Her on campus activities include being a student worker in the Office of Student Scholarly Engagement, serving on the Honor Commission, and being a Community Advisor for the college’s ResLife office. She can often be found around the library or on a couch eating a bagel.



Alexandros Economou-Garcia graduated from Gettysburg College in 2022 with a double major in Environmental Studies and Public Policy. His research at Gettysburg focused on analyzing trends of parachute science in field work. Parachute Science is the practice of non-local scientists “dropping-in” and conducting research without including and/or crediting local scientists and communities. The aim of this project was to use demographic data of published authors to further analyze collaboration between international and local scientists. Alex now works in Sustainability Strategy at the consultancy Environmental Resources Management.


Outside of lab, Alex enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and – most importantly – Greek dancing. at Gettysburg, he was Secretary for Gettysburg Environmental Concerns Organization (G.E.C.O.), Vice President of the International Affairs Association, a participant in the Eisenhower Institute’s Strategy and Leadership in Transitional Times program (SALTT), and an avid supporter of diversity and inclusion. 



Megan Keene graduated from Gettysburg College in 2021 with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Biology. Her honors thesis focused on quantifying ecosystem service trade-offs within marine priority areas using spatial analysis in GIS and statistical analysis in R. Megan aimed to understand the impacts of ecosystems services on coral reefs and their tourism value.

Since graduating, Megan has started an environmental consulting position with Eastern Research Group, Inc.


In her free time, Megan enjoys scuba diving, traveling, and underwater photography. Her on-campus activities included being a Varsity Athlete on the Women’s Swim Team, Research Assistant in the Economics Department, Senior Career Ambassador for the Center for Career Engagement, Peer Learning Associate for Ecology and Geographic Information Systems, Global Leader of Gettysburg College, member of the Eisenhower Institute’s Environmental Leadership program, Secretary of Chi Omega, Member of Order of Omega, Member of GECO, and a committee member of the College Life Advisory Committee.


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