The Cloud Forest: Costa Rica Faculty
Dr. Sybil Gotsch is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Sybil is a tropical plant ecophysiologist. Ecophysiology is a field concerned with the form and function of organisms in relation to their external environment. Sybil studies the Tropical Montane Cloud Forest canopy community and is in particular interested in understanding how canopy plants (epiphytes) are affected by seasonal drought as well as changes in cloud base heights and precipitation.
Gotsch has worked extensively in Latin America. Her research has taken her from the tropical dry forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, to the savannas of Brazil, and to the tropical montane cloud forests (TMCF) of Mexico and Costa Rica. In 2012, Sybil started a research program in Monteverde, Costa Rica where she and her students spend their summers climbing trees and studying this beautiful forest.
Sybil has been climbing trees for research and fun since she was five. In fact, she got her first scar when she fell a few feet out of a cherry tree, which was her imaginary tree house. Now, decades later, Gotsch climbs trees with ropes and harnesses and teaches others to climb as well. She has been employing climbing techniques in her research since 1998 and has undergone trainings in advanced climbing techniques and rescue.
Gotsch is a five-year veteran of the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL). She taught for two summers in Rhode Island and two summers with BELL Costa Rica. Sybil is a passionate educator and is particularly excited to share what she is learning in the treetops with students. Sybil finds mentoring young people incredibly rewarding, and is especially interested in using field-based learning activities in her teaching. For more information about Sybil’s teaching and research please see her website www.sybilgotsch.com.