2020 Data Labs Fellows


The goal of the Data Labs Fellows initiative was to expand and improve the collection of resources available for undergraduate educators to incorporate OOI data into their classes.  A cohort of 10 fellows was selected via an external review process from a pool of nearly 50 applicants. These projects provided insight and feedback on how OOI data can be used in undergraduate teaching and developed new resources for undergraduate educators and students.

The Fellows shared the results and products generated from their projects in a Spring 2021 series of blog posts.  Additional information about each Fellow and their project is listed below.

Implementation Fellows

Implementation fellows utilized the existing collection of OOI Data Explorations to help evaluate how students build data literacy skills. Fellows field-tested select Explorations in their classroom, created supplemental materials and assessed student learning (when possible), with the results informing how these Explorations can be more effective with students.

Dr. Jean R. Anastasia, Suffolk County Community College, NY


Jean R. Anastasia obtained her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University in 1999 and that same year, joined the faculty at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) where she is currently a Professor in the Biology Department.  During her twenty years of teaching, she has taught courses in biology, marine biology, oceanography, and environmental science.   In addition to her teaching, Dr. Anastasia was Assistant Chair of the Biology Department for 9 years, Co-Chair of the Assessment Advisory Council for 5 years, and is currently the Program Administrator for the Liberal Arts and Science: General Studies Program at SCCC’s Ammerman campus. For her involvement in many assessment initiatives and curriculum development projects, Dr. Anastasia was awarded a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Faculty Service in 2019.

Project Summary: 

  • Motivation: Impacting student learning through the use of Data Explorations.
  • Implemented in an introductory level oceanography course designed for non-science majors in Spring 2020 (in-person and remote) and Fall 2020 (remote).
  • Developed two 2-hour lab manual style handouts, for use in lab sessions, that guided students step-by-step through the relevant Data Explorations.
  • Authored a blog post (including a video blog) focused on her experience and lessons learned while guiding students through Factors Affecting Primary Productivity.

Dr. Meg Blome, East Carolina University, NC

Meg Blome grew up on the East Coast, in Virginia just outside of DC. She went to college at the College of William and Mary expecting to major in Archaeology, but fell in love with geology after her first class (taken to satisfy my “gen ed” requirement).  Her undergraduate thesis combined her interests in geology and archaeology, and she spent a year working as an archaeologist in DC between a Fulbright Scholarship studying Arabic in Jordan and beginning graduate school!!

She received her doctorate in 2012 from the University of Arizona where she researched paleoclimate in East Africa over the last million years using a 300-meter long sediment core from Lake Malawi to develop a record of past lake level.  Dr. Blome was lucky enough to travel to Malawi for a short time to do field work!

After graduate school she worked as a geologist at an energy company in Houston, TX.  She helped map the distribution of oil and gas resources in tight reservoirs in Texas for six years, working with multidisciplinary professionals from all over the globe toward a common goal.

Dr. Blome began working as a Teaching Assistant Professor at East Carolina University in the Fall of 2019, teaching large introductory geology courses, including Oceanography lecture and an online laboratory course.  She believes in the inclusion of more active learning and real-time data analysis in large lecture courses within the department, and the integration of more interactive exercises into online laboratory assignments. This was her motivation for applying for the 2020 Data Labs Implementation Fellowship.

Project Summary:

  • Motivation:  Guiding introductory students in the exploration of interactive datasets and improving existing lab activities.
  • Implemented in an introductory level oceanography course that had an optional lab section in Spring 2020 (in-person and remote) and Fall 2020. Most students were non-majors.
  • Developed three lesson plans and student worksheets.
  • Authored a blog post focused on her experiences developing and implementing the in-class lecture activity about Seafloor Earthquakes.

Dr. Natasha Gownaris, Gettysburg College, PA

Natasha Gownaris (Tasha) is a Marine Ecologist in the Environmental Studies Department at Gettysburg College. At Gettysburg, Tasha aims to incorporate data science and literacy skills into her courses on ecology, marine ecology, oceanography, and fisheries. Tasha’s research focuses on using demographic and foraging data to inform seabird conservation.

Project Summary:

Dr. Melissa Hicks, Onondaga Community College, NY

Melissa Hicks received her B.S in Geology at Juniata College in 1999, her M.S. (2001) and her Ph.D.  (2006) both in Geoscience from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Her masters and PhD research involved the ecology and extinction of archaeocyathan-microbial built reefs in the Early Cambrian.  She has done research in the Nevada/California, China, and France.  After graduating, Dr. Hicks took a position as a Senior Research Geologist for ExxonMobil, where she taught numerous in-house classes ranging from Field Geology to Seismic Interpretation.  She also researched and interpreted well logs/cores/thin sections for the exploration company in order to improve extraction of oil in various acquisitions globally.   In 2009, Dr. Hicks moved to Syracuse, NY where she began a 3-year position as a Research Associate for Syracuse University in their Earth Science Department.  There, she researched freshwater carbonate stratigraphy and ecology in rift systems in Africa and the western U.S.  In 2012, she attained a position as an Assistant Professor at Onondaga Community College and was tenured and promoted to Full Professor in 2021.  She teaches introductory courses in Geology and Oceanography, including a study abroad program on Bahamian Ecology.

Project Summary:


Dr. Janie Johnston, Aurora University, IL

Janie A. Johnston received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Science and Geology from the University of Miami (FL).  She received her Master’s degree in Geology and her Ed.S degree in Science Education from the University of Georgia. Janie has worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory from 1993 – 2015 on R&D, science education, and nuclear material waste management.  She has many years of experience teaching science at middle and high school levels, as well as at the college level both at the University of New Mexico – Los Alamos and Aurora University.

Dr. Sara Smith, Bellingham Technical College, WA

Sara Smith teaches at Bellingham Technical College (BTC) in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences Department. Her background is in Pacific salmonid management, including habitat restoration, population monitoring, and hatchery production. At BTC she teaches a range of subjects, including salmon hatchery production, shellfish aquaculture, and freshwater and marine sampling.

Project Summary:

Development Fellows

Development fellows built new resources for educators and students using reusable coding notebooks (e.g. Python notebooks). Our existing collection of static Data Explorations provides an easy way for educators to incorporate OOI data in their courses, however the datasets and topics included are limited. Development Fellows created new notebooks, and data-based and data-driven activities that provide more sustainable resources for faculty to access OOI data for teaching.

Dr. Tom Connolly, Moss Landing Marine Labs/San Jose State University, CA

Tom Connolly is a physical oceanographer who studies circulation in the coastal zone from an interdisciplinary perspective. His research interests include coastal upwelling dynamics, the formation of low-oxygen zones, transport of toxic algae blooms. As an Assistant Professor at Moss Landing Marine Labs, Tom works closely with students from a wide range of disciplines who are interested in physical processes in the ocean. Tom received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington in 2012, where he studied shelf and slope circulation off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia, and was a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from 2012-2015.  Tom uses a variety of techniques to study coastal circulation patterns, including analysis of observational data from ships, moorings and buoys.

Project Summary:

  • Motivation: Reinforce concepts through practical experience working with real oceanographic data.
  • Developed two python notebooks that explore coastal upwelling processes, for use in a Data Analysis course aimed at first-year masters students who have varying experience with statistics and programming. Notebooks are stored in this GitHub repository and include explanatory text, some pre-written code and prompts for activities.
    • NDBC Wind Analysis uses wind data from NDBC buoy, offshore Monterey Bay CA.
    • OOI ADCP Analysis uses ocean current data from the OOI Endurance Array, offshore Washington and Oregon.
  • Authored a blog post that provides teaching tips and resources for teaching live coding.

Dr. Sean Crosby, Western Washington University, WA

Sean Crosby is a U. S. Geological Survey researcher studying coastal processes contributing to flooding, erosion, and changes to ecosystem habitats. He is also an affiliate and adjunct at Western Washington University where he teaches coastal and estuarine processes. He is a graduate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also an avid runner, cyclist, and kite-surfer. 

Project Summary:

  • Motivation:  Provide students with an introductory understanding of estuarine physics and bio-geo-chemical interactions, as well as basic data analysis skills and the confidence to dive into datasets to explore their own questions.
  • Developed a collection of python notebooks and instructor guides, for use with upper-level undergraduates with or without prior coding experience.  Notebooks, guides and other resources are stored in this GitHub repository.
    • Python and Colab Introduction that provides an overview of basic commands and scripting
    • Coastal Transport notebook that illustrates the effect of coastal winds on coastal ocean properties (upwelling / downwelling) using data from the OOI Endurance Array.
    • Estuary Circulation notebook that explores how these properties are ultimately transmitted with estuarine exchange circulation using model data from University of Washington’s Live Ocean
    • Waves notebook that explores the relationship between wind and waves using NDBC buoy data
  • Authored a blog post that provides teaching tips and other resources.

Dr. Hilary Palevsky, Boston College, MA

Dr. Hilary Palevsky is a marine biogeochemist, climate scientist, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Boston College. Her research combines field measurements at sea, autonomous sensor data from moorings and robots, satellite observations, and global climate model simulations to investigate how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby influencing the global carbon cycle and climate. She has previously worked with Ocean Observatories Initiative data in both her research and teaching, including ongoing research studying the biological carbon pump at the Global Irminger Sea Array and which has enabled her to provide undergraduate students with OOI-based research experience in data analysis and seagoing fieldwork. Prior to her current position at Boston College, Dr. Palevsky earned her Ph.D. in Oceanography and a Graduate Certificate in Climate Science at the University of Washington, completed a Postdoctoral Scholarship in Marine Chemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and taught at Wellesley College and The Evergreen State College.

Project Summary:

  • Motivation:  Incorporate OOI data into teaching activities for the upper level curriculum that develop students’ data analysis and scientific computing skills, especially when working with “messy” raw data and comparing data from multiple sources..
    • Implemented in a course cross-listed at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels, Environmental Data Exploration and Analysis. Students have a wide range of prior backgrounds in programming and disciplinary interests within the geosciences.
  • Developed The Blob Lab, a pair-programming lesson using MATLAB that is divided into two parts. Each part of the lab is accompanied by a detailed handout and starter code with step-by-step instructions.
    • In Part 1, students work with data from the OOI Global Station Papa array as well as SST anomaly data from a NOAA ERDDAP server.  Part 1 Student Handout and GitHub starter code.
    • In Part 2, students combine the OOI data with World Ocean Atlas climatology data to calculate the temperature anomaly, and then compare the OOI-based temperature anomaly data with the satellite SST anomaly data from Part 1. Part 2 Student Handout and GitHub starter code.
  • Authored a blog post that details the learning goals and lesson plan design, along with teaching tips and resources.

Dr. Tracy Quan, Oklahoma State University, OK

Dr. Tracy Quan is an Associate Professor in the Boone Pickens School of Geology at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Quan earned her PhD from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/MIT Joint Program, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University. She is a geochemist whose main focus is evaluating past environmental conditions in sedimentary systems using elemental, isotopic, and spectroscopic techniques. Dr. Quan currently teaches several classes in Geochemistry, as well as an Introduction to Oceanography online course. She is also active in outreach programs that introduce geology and oceanography to students, teachers, and the general public.

Project Summary:

  • Motivation:  Create a capstone project that would require students to apply the concepts they learned in a chemical oceanography course module using their own unique data set.
    • Implemented in an upper-level undergraduate natural science general education course, Introduction to Oceanography Online.  Most students were science majors with varying backgrounds and skills.
  • Developed a flexible Python notebook template that students utilize to query the OOI database.  Notebook template is stored in this GitHub repository.
    • Notebook allows students to request water column profile data and generate depth profiles for three parameters: temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen.
    • Students choose both which OOI Array and Platform they wanted to investigate, and the date they requested the data from.
    • Students write a short report to describe and explain the data trends in these graphs with respect to physical and chemical oceanography concepts such as circulation, stratification, and productivity.
  • Authored a blog post that details the project design, student instructions and teaching tips.


Detailed information about the application criteria can be found here.