Goals for student learning

I work to provide opportunities to students that enable them to:

  • hone critical thinking and analytical skills,
  • develop confidence and skill using analytical tools (Excel, R, MatLab),
  • apply ecological and biological concepts when interpreting results,
  • experience the complexities and nuances of science, and
  • appreciate the diversity of people behind the science.

I approach teaching in courses for biology-majors differently than for non-majors. I feel this provides students with experiences better tailored to their personal interests and professional aspirations. Whenever possible, I try to use concept examples from the work of women, non-binary people, and members of other underrepresented groups in STEM. By doing so, I hope to provide students with multiple opportunities to identify with non-stereotypical scientists.

Biology for majors and graduate students

To help students in biology-majors meet these learning goals, I employ problem-based learning using active learning techniques. I work with students to identify the tasks to be solved, use software to perform analytical tasks, and interpret results within the scope of ecology and environmental science.

At Northern Illinois University, I was the primary instructor for Statistics in R, a graduate-level seminar I designed to teach students how to analyze ecological data in the statistical environment R. Using ecological data from case-studies, my students learned about advanced statistical concepts (e.g., mixed-effects models, multimodel inference and averaging, and multivariate methods), how to perform these analyses, and critically interpret their results. For most assignments, students are encouraged to use their own data whenever applicable.

I have also co-organized small study groups focusing on stable isotope analysis and Bayesian statistics. Study groups have typically met every other week to discuss peer-reviewed articles on a particular topic and work through mathematical exercises as a group. Most recently, I’ve taught museum skin preparation with Heather Herakovich.

Biology for non-majors

For non-major students, I use active learning techniques to encourage students to engage with materials during laboratory experiments. As a class, we review key concepts and vocabulary before students begin lab work in small groups. During laboratory experiments, I work one-on-one with groups to monitor their progress and discuss their experiment results.

At Northern Illinois University, I instructed Experiments in General Biology (two semesters) and worked as a graduate teaching assistant for a similar course, Applications in Biology II, at the University of New Brunswick. Broadly, weekly lab topics build off one another (e.g., carbohydrates, enzymes, energy metabolism). Students work in small groups to perform 2 – 5 investigations per lab meeting following methodologies outlined in their instructional notebook. After completing varying aspects of the investigations, we discuss class results as a group.

Environmental Education

As an intern with Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, I talked with vacationers about shorebirds and the importance of sharing the beach. We met with folks staying at local resorts and had activities on the beach for families.