Students are attracted to the biological sciences due to their curiosity about themselves and their place in the living world. As children we continually observe, question and test our environments, and I find that some of the best scientific learning occurs when this process of inquiry is fostered. In my teaching and mentoring, I utilize scientific inquiry as a framework to transfer core information and then show students how to evaluate these ideas by developing problem-solving skills. The approaches I use to achieve these learning goals vary with class size and grade level, yet I always emphasize asking questions as a key principle.


Courses taught at University of Wisconsin - Green Bay:

Fall Semester

BIOL 203: Principles of Biology - Organisms, Ecology & Evolution

BIOL 204: Principles of Biology Lab

BIOL 311 / BIOL 511: Plant Physiology

Spring Semester

BIOL 203: Principles of Biology - Organisms, Ecology & Evolution

BIOL 204: Principles of Biology Lab

ES & P 743: Landscape Ecology


As an example of my approach, while teaching courses in restoration ecology at University of California Santa Barbara I found that understanding the links between science and its practical application was one of the most important leaning outcomes for the students. I used several methods to reconnect students with their natural environment and develop critical thinking in this upper-division class. First, weekly labs took place outdoors, exploring the nearby natural areas and conducting experiments. Through collaboration with UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, the students participated in the active monitoring of a wide variety of restoration projects, which allowed them to observe real-life examples and become competent in the scientific method. During these labs, all students were required to keep field notebooks recording their observations and data, which were graded at the end of the class. Second, students were split into small groups responsible for coordinating and analyzing the results of a given week's lab. This guides students to think critically about what we have done each week as well as reinforces their experiencing of “doing science.” Lastly, for the final exam each student created a formal proposal for restoring a nearby degraded natural area, justifying their ideas and decisions with scientific material from the class. Restoration is a powerful and positive way for us to interact with and think about our environment, which is refreshing and eye-opening for many senior students as they prepared to navigate life after college.

To promote my personal growth as an educator, I continually evaluate the effectiveness of my teaching approaches. I have completed extra training in teaching plant taxonomy and earned a certification in university-level teaching focused on the use of new technology and media. Using this skills, I developed online modeling exercises for a course in Tropical Ecology at UCSB that remain in use. In evaluations, students frequently comment on both my deep knowledge of the subject material and my enthusiasm for the subject and teaching. This in turn motivates students to engage, learn and excel. In all interactions with students, I share my instinct for what is beautiful, wonderful and exciting about the living world. By emphasizing science as a process in which all can participate, I aim to revive the natural curiosity which first brings students to the biological sciences. This enables us to observe the world with wondering, child-like eyes, yet evaluate these observations with an adult’s knowledge.