I believe that the best way to learn about the scientific process and environmental issues is to engage with them. I am passionate about teaching and have led classes at Colby College, discussion sessions at Yale University, and have mentored 12 undergraduate researchers. My goal as a teacher and mentor is to enable students to connect scientific concepts with their own hands-on experiences, thereby deepening their understanding of the dynamism and interconnectedness of ecosystems. I teach all my students to recognize and understand coupled human-natural systems – from urban pocket parks to remote wilderness – and the many social and biological facets of biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene.
Biodiversity Conservation in a Rapidly Changing World
In January 2020, I taught a class at Colby College in Waterville, ME. Throughout the course, I asked students to wrestle with conservation tradeoffs by adopting stakeholder personas and debating policy options. We also examined the real-world consequences of policy decisions with a lab collecting data on an extinct population of Egyptian lizard from the collections of the Yale Natural History Museum. I also enabled students to engage with multiple perspectives on biodiversity conservation and to consider their career goals with virtual visits from conservationists in academia, government, and the non-profit sector, in the US and abroad.
Course description: Humans are changing landscapes at an unprecedented pace with cascading consequences for ecosystems. How do scientists measure what has been lost and decide how to protect what remains? This course explores topics in human land-use, biodiversity conservation, rapid evolution, and extinction in the Anthropocene. Using museum specimens of extinct lizard populations as a case study, we will discuss the value of museum collections, the tradeoffs between species conservation and human development, and future avenues for biodiversity conservation. Through lectures, hands-on lab work, and reading both scientific and popular-press articles, students will learn about – and debate – the challenges of biodiversity conservation in a rapidly changing world.
I have several blog posts about the class, you can read them here. If interested, I’m happy to share the Syllabus of the class, please email me.
Other Teaching Resources
I am also committed to collaborating to create educational content about my work. I recently worked with Data Nuggets to create two high-school lesson plans about Hurricanes, Lizards, Natural Selection and Evolution. You can access them here:
I worked with MinuteEarth on this youtube video about Urban Environments that has been viewed over 1.3 millions times!
I also participate in the SkypeAScientist program. Get in touch over email if you’d like me to come give a talk to your K-12 students! Since 2020, I’ve visited more than 10 classrooms and talked with over 250 students.
Over the years I’ve written many blog posts on the website with teaching tips and ideas from my experience. Among the most popular is this one: “How to write a bad research proposal.” Check it out.
I have also written numerous How-To blog posts over the years (only some of which are tagged, sorry, I’m continuing to go through the archives and add tags). One that you might be especially interested in is how to measure lizard toepads.