Campus Life

Music and science make a sweet duet

Environmental science graduate student Tanya Gallagher is one of 12,000 students at UWF

On most Sundays, you can find UWF graduate student Tanya Gallagher toting her guitar and singing her favorite Jack Johnson songs to the morning brunch crowd at one of Pensacola’s beach restaurants. Her folk-acoustic music style provides brunch go-ers the perfect environment.

Gallagher is one of more than 12,000 students that make up the growing student body at UWF. She received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from UWF in May 2010 and is now working toward her master’s degree in environmental studies.

While doing her video interview, she joked, “I’d do much better if I could just sing it to you.”

Gallagher started singing until the age of 15 in her church. Shortly after, at age 18, she taught herself how to play guitar. Born and raised in Pensacola, she came to UWF after graduating high school.

When she’s not performing or writing music, she’s busy providing assistance to current students at UWF as a graduate teaching assistant for the online GIS (Geographic Information Science) certificate program. She is also a research assistant for the tree ring analysis and interpretation laboratory. Gallagher is currently conducting research for her thesis on spatial variability temperature trends in the Southeast, looking at how urban heat islands or more extreme temperatures within cities have changed in the southeast in the past 50 years.

“Choosing this topic of study for my master’s had a lot to do with my adviser, Dr. Jason Ortegren,” said Gallagher. “My senior year I had him for Urban Land Use, which was one of my favorite classes, and when I approached him about pursuing my master’s, he brought up the topic.”

During her undergraduate studies, she participated in the honors program. When asked to reflect back to her undergraduate years at UWF, she had a hard time picking just one favorite memory.

“I took Greg Thomso’s Politics of Food honors seminar class, and it was definitely one of my favorite classes as an undergraduate,” said Gallagher. “My class started the community garden that all of his classes now have a part in.”

Gallagher used her time wisely at UWF as an undergraduate, participating in numerous summer internships. Her first internship in the summer of 2008 was on Pensacola Beach studying how rip currents form.

In the summer of 2009, Gallagher received some very exciting news. She was one of 30 students nationwide selected as part of the Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars (LARSS) Program. She spent 10 weeks as an intern at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

“UWF has been an amazing experience for me. It’s allowed me all sorts of opportunities to go all across the country and meet various scientists and researchers and expand my horizons in the field of science,” said Gallagher. “Professors are excited for students to go out and share what we are doing at UWF with other universities and students, and I don’t think I would have had this opportunity anywhere but the University of West Florida.”

To see more about Tanya Gallagher, visit

To hear Tanya’s music, visit