I see teaching and research as partners in the scientific process. Like good partners, together they are more than the sum of their parts. Involving my students in real research makes my teaching more meaningful and effective and integrates young researchers with new backgrounds, ideas, and skills into the scientific community.
As a teacher, I work to facilitate the growth of all students into independent, self-directed learners as they acquire the education they need to support themselves in their career and life choices. When thinking as an ecologist, my primary teaching goal is to provide students with the ecological skills and knowledge to independently apply scientific thought, analysis, and processes to their own questions and real world issues. To help students achieve this independence and take control of their own education, I work to integrate certain skills into my classes, including asking insightful questions, using analytical skills to answer questions quantitatively, conducting real research, and communicating science to diverse audiences.
Instructor, Animal Behavior (BIOL 429), Penn State University
Animal Behavior is a wonderful class to teach because there’s such an inherent level of interest and buy-in from both biology majors as well as less-science focused students who think it will be a fun course. They aren’t wrong(!), but the study of behavior provides a great gateway to concepts that link aspects of biology and other fields, including evolution, game and decision-making theory, fitness and selection, anthropology, and more! My Animal Behavior course has focused on building students’ proficiency in interpersonal skills, such as constructive communication, as well as developing confidence and public speaking skills.
Instructor, Science Outreach and Communication (BIOL 497F), Penn State University
Outreach is increasingly recognized as a key responsibility of academics, but there is rarely any formal training in how to create effective outreach or build relationships with communities. To meet this need, I worked with two fellow Penn State grad students, Zach Fuller and Allison Lewis to create a course in Science Outreach and Communication. The course focuses on providing grad and undergrad students with background educational skills and supports them in designing and presenting outreach activities based on their personal research and experiences. Based on the initial success of this class, it continues to be offered yearly.
A sampling of the great outreach projects developed by SciComm class students.
Teaching Assistant, Penn State University
- Experimental Field Biology (BIOL 450W)
- Biology: Populations and Communities (BIOL 220W)
- Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity (BIOL 110), Penn State University
Teaching Assistant, University of Alabama
- Field Zoology (BSC 303)
- Honors Organismal Biology Lab (BSC 120)
- Organismal Biology Lab (BSC 117)
- STEM Course Design in Higher Education, with Dr. Bryan Dewsbury, University of Rhode Island
- Graduate School Teaching Certificate, Pennsylvania State University
- Included two semesters of supervised teaching and one semester Course in College Teaching from Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
- Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching, Pennsylvania State University
- TEFL certification, Pass with Distinction, EBC Servicios Linguisticos, Madrid, Spain
- Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student, Graduate School, University of Alabama
- Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Alabama
- Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama
- Adaptation and Heritability, Principles of Biology Honors (BIO 101H), University of Rhode Island, active learning section developed with Dr. Bryan Dewsbury
- Mating Systems, Animal Behavior (BIOL 429), Penn State University
- Biological Invasions and Herpetology, Herpetology (WFS 462), Penn State University
- Field Trip Leader, Herpetology (WFS 462), Penn State University