Meet Our Team

GALS Leaders 2021

GALS Team Members

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Natasha Teasley is a Durham native. She has a BS from Western Carolina University with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management, Outdoor Leadership and Instruction concentration, and is a member and alumni of the Wilderness Education Association. Natasha has guided caving, hiking, backpacking, canoe and kayak trips through the southeast. Natasha is the owner of Two Sisters Adventure Company, where she strives to find ways to break down boundaries to the outdoors in traditionally under-represented populations in the outdoors. She enjoys hiking and trail running, snow skiing, attending music festivals, and playing dress up with and throwing sticks for her rescue pit bull, Dove.

Erin Witalison is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Catawba College and the Executive Board Co-Chair for GALS NC. Erin completed her undergraduate degrees in Biology and Spanish at Catawba. Then completed her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. When she is not working on exciting research projects with students, Erin enjoys traveling, hiking, and camping with her dogs.

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Jackie Gerson is a co-founder of GALS. She loves to hike, camp, bike, canoe, kayak, or just spend time reading a good book outside. Jackie has a Masters degree in environmental engineering and is currently earning her PhD in ecology. She studies contamination of the environment by human activities and has been fortunate to travel to both Peru and Senegal for her research.

I am Kelly Flanigan, one of the Program Facilitators and Board Members of GALS. I love to learn and explore nature. Some of favorite activities include swimming, kayaking, hiking, playing with my pets, and reading. I completed my master’s degree in environmental studies and am currently foraging my path in conservation. I study the natural history of small carnivores and have a strong interest in the ecological-social divide. When I am not exploring the forest of Madagascar or hiking through the bayous of Houston Texas, I am coordinating the many moving parts of the Department of Environment and Sustainability and sharing my love of environmental topics with students in the classroom. During the transition of GALS to its new home at Catawba College I was asked to participate due to my range of interests in conservation psychology, environmental anthropology, and environmental intersectionality. As a female researcher and educator, I understand some of the challenges that underrepresented demographics face in STEM, and I hope to help break down those barriers. Programs like GALS work toward overcoming those challenges with a creative approach that starts with instilling confidence and a sense of belonging in young individuals. I am honored to be a part of this program and am inspired by the young participants in this program.

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Mercedes Quesada-Embid is an interdisciplinary scholar with research and teaching interests spanning the social and natural sciences, as well as the humanities. Her interests gravitate toward and explore an array of eco-egalitarian concerns, in particular, the role of socio-ecological resilience as it relates to local and global sustainability efforts. Key to this work is an understanding of communication strategies. The political sphere that revolves around legislative and social change requires strategic listening and communication skills, an organized vision for long-term impact, and an ability to support and mobilize concerned citizens in a transparent, effective, and relevant way

Luke Dollar is a National Geographic Explorer and a wildlife biologist with more than 25 years’ experience coordinating conservation, research, educational, and development programs. Dollar’s scientific research focuses on carnivores ranging from big cats to Madagascar’s largest carnivore, the fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox), and satellite analyses of their habitat. More than 50 percent of his overall efforts are concentrated on grassroots education and sustainable employment programs for local people sharing space with Africa’s predators. Dollar’s efforts have not only yielded a trove of data on carnivore biology and behavior, but his programs have led to the development of scholastic and sustainable business programs benefiting thousands of local subsistence farmers and their children.  He served as Program Director of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative from 2009 to 2017 and is currently Bashore Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Environment and Sustainability at Catawba College and Adjunct Professor in the Nicholas School at Duke University

Dr. ChaMarra Saner received her M.S. in Organic chemistry (North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University – 2007) and Ph.D. in Analytical chemistry (Louisiana State University – 2013) where she developed a robust and reproducible protocol for nanopatterning fibronectin for molecular-level studies of immune response. Dr. Saner has substantial experience in a wide range of chemistry techniques and instrumentation from her previous work as a Finished Product Chemist in the pharmaceutical industry. Currently Dr. Saner is an Associate Professor of Chemistry, at Catawba College  where she serves as the Director of the Science & Mathematics Academic Resource Center, the Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Justice and Inclusion Taskforce, the faculty advisor for the American Chemical Society, the Black Student Union, the African Club and the Pre-Health Organization. Her current pedagogical concentration focuses on factors that have been attributed to the shortage of interest from the current generation in pursuing jobs in the STEM fields and how to bridge those gaps through service- learning opportunities. For the past six years, Dr. Saner strives to create positive learning experiences for students both inside and outside of the classroom not only by promoting meaningful connections among the course material but also with the members of the community.

Hello! My name is Emily Marcincavage and I am the GALS 2022 Intern as well as a Wilderness and Curriculum Leader for summer 2022. I am currently at Catawba College majoring in Environment and Sustainability with concentrations in Environmental & Outdoor Education and Environmental Science. I am excited to work with and serve alongside GALS in extending educational opportunities in nontraditional settings and ways.  

I am a lover of people, coffee, and anything outdoors. With GALS, I get to share these passions with people that may already have similar ones, and or aid the opportunity to grow new interests together. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, hiking, playing soccer, and reading (definitely at a coffee shop)!! 

I’m super excited to share this experience with everyone and grow together.