More about the ENVS Faculty

Dr. Alison Draper

Director, Science Center and Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Science

Dr. Draper’s research focuses on environmental toxicology. She is interested in the toxicological consequences of environmental contaminants on aquatic organisms and has studied car tire wear particles. Her recent research is on the effect of pharmaceuticals on aquatic organisms. ​



Krista Ehlert

Thomas Meredith McKenna ’48 Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Science

Krista Ehlert is a plant ecologist who studies the ecological underpinnings that govern plant invasion, with an emphasis on ecologically based invasive plant management. Her research focuses on understanding and manipulating the mechanisms of invasion to restore degraded communities. In the past, Krista has worked with invaders such as Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn) in the Midwest and Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass, downy brome) in the West. Current research is focused on Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) and how it alters the microclimate surrounding it to be conducive to black-legged ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Specifically, She is looking at the intersection between B. thunbergii, ticks, and Lyme disease, and how relationships among them will be different under climate change.

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Dr. Christoph Geiss

Professor of Physics and Environmental Science, Program Director

Dr. Geiss is a geophysicist who studies the magnetic properties of sediments and soils to reconstruct past continental climates. Current research projects include investigations of the carbon budget in Arctic wetlands and soils, the determination of erosion and soil formation rates in the Midwestern U.S. and reconstructions of midcontinental paleoclimate from buried soils. ​

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Dr. Jonathan Gourley

Senior Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator

Despite extensive training in structural geology and mountain building tectonics, Senior Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator, Dr. Gourley has turned to soil geochemistry since arriving at Trinity in 2006 to involve many research students in both field-based and lab instrumental research. Jon is in close collaboration with U.S. Forest Service scientists to understand, nutrient cycling, clear-cutting disturbance and mercury contamination in the forests of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. An avid hiker, Jon and his students sample soils from valley to summit and are investigating the effect of elevation on mercury accumulation in sensitive alpine zones of higher peaks. In his spare time, Jon is a guitarist and mandolin player who plays in a couple local bands.

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Dr. Amber Pitt

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Biology

Dr. Pitt is a conservation ecologist who studies the patterns and causes of biodiversity loss with the goal of providing conservation practitioners, land managers, and policy makers with necessary information for the effective management and conservation of functional ecosystems and wildlife. Her research focuses primarily on amphibians and reptiles, as well aquatic ecosystems, due to the rapid global decline of these taxa and ecosystems. Current research examines the relative influence of landscape-scale and within-stream habitat variables on hellbender salamander population extirpation and ecotoxicology within urban pond communities.​

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Dr. Joan Morrison

Professor of Biology (emeritus)

Dr. Morrison's research program entails studies of birds living in human-impacted landscapes. Before coming to Trinity, Professor Morrison worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and New Mexico. On-going research projects include a study of Red-tailed Hawks living in the urban environments of Hartford, and monitoring a population of Crested Caracaras in Florida. She has also examined the structure of avian communities in urban parks in Hartford. Dr. Morrison retired in 2016 and moved to the southwestern U.S. She is still involved with Trinity, co-teaching summer courses.