Overview of Courses

Plant Ecology

Ecosystem management

Teaching Philosophy

My overall goal in teaching and mentoring is to bring a sense of wonderment and passion in learning about the natural world to my students. I view my time spent with both undergraduate and graduate students as an opportunity to, as Yeats said, 'light a fire' and increase their interest in the natural world around them, while helping them to develop their skills to become life long learners and researchers. In order to achieve this goal, I employ a range of teaching and mentoring strategies to engage students in the natural world; strategies that are best described as a problem-based approach to learning (PBL). The primary goal of a PBL approach is to create a student-centered, experiential learning environment. My approach to incorporating PBL strategies into both the classroom and research environment is two-fold: 1) I seek to play a role as a learning facilitator by giving students more responsibility for assessing their academic work and creating activities that are student led and 2) I work to present learning objectives within the framework of open-ended problems whereby students experience the act of applying key scientific concepts to solving a problem in a collaborative manner.


EBIO 4140 Plant Ecology

Addressing and solving contemporary and future environmental problems requires creative and novel solutions. Thus developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities in the next generation of environmental biologists and citizen scientists to address and solve these complex problems is critically important for the long-term sustainability of our planet and its resources.

Thus my overarching goal in this course is to facilitate advanced training in environmental problem solving in order to create the next generation of scientists and scientifically literate citizens that are able to use a novel approaches to solving the complex environmental problems in the world today.

We will achieve this goal by taking a problem-based, active learning approach to evaluating current issues in plant ecology.

This course has been developed in a way that develops a range of skills that will serve not only in advancing your knowledge of the field of ecology but also contribute to your future professional life. These skills include:

  1. Evaluate and create scientifically sound and testable hypotheses and design experiments to test these hypotheses.
  2. Graphically, verbally, or quantitatively evaluate and represent problems in plant ecology.
  3. Construct and evaluate valid arguments based on evidence.
  4. Collaborate with people of varying knowledge and points of view toward common goals.
  5. Communicate verbally and in your writing for brevity, clarity, and scientific persuasion.
  6. Critically evaluate and appraise your success in achieving goals 1-6.
  7. Create and sustain a learning community throughout the semester.
EBIO 4140 Syllabus

EBIO 4800 Ecosystem management

Ecosystem management (EM) is an approach to sustainably restore and maintain the composition, structure, and function of ecosystems. The success of EM is based on the ability of practitioners to collaboratively develop a vision for desired future condition amongst a variety of stakeholders that integrates ecological, institutional, and socioeconomic perspectives. In this course we will examine the historical and current role of ecosystem management as an approach to managing ecosystems. Group discussion and case studies will focus primarily on ecosystem management issues of the western US although students will have the opportunity to explore EM issues outside of this region through written assignments. Students will actively practice and develop tools in critical reasoning through a series of individual and group activities in both written and oral form throughout the semester that address current issues in managing ecosystems.

This course is fully structured as an active learning environment with little to no classroom time allocated to the traditional lecture. Active learning is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of learning activities such as problem solving, analysis, role-playing, and group collaboration and discussion. Following this, this course will is structured more as a series of ecosystem management 'workshops' where we, as a group, are involved in a 15 week study and evaluation of management of terrestrial ecosystems. Learning Goals

  1. Analyze the potential impacts of a management decision or range of management decisions on ecological, socioeconomic, and institutional conditions.
  2. Develop arguments in support of a management decision based on ecological, socioeconomic, historical, and institutional conditions.
  3. Recognize the importance of collaboration and communication amongst different groups or stakeholders in successfully managing ecosystems.
  4. Appraise your success in achieving these goals (L1-L3).
EBIO 4800 Syllabus