Statement on diversity and inclusion
Creating an inclusive, equitable, and accessible classroom is an aspect of teaching I take very seriously. I continue to think critically about my teaching and actions to call out biases in myself and others. My goal is to foster an environment where students of all backgrounds and identities can thrive. In my teaching, I strive to amplify diverse voices with regards to ethnicity, race, gender, and nationality, so that all students feel that a career in science is available to them. I do this by including readings of the primary literature by authors who have been historically overlooked in STEM, with specific attention to women and BIPOC. In my classes, I highlight traditional ecological knowledge that indigenous peoples have collected over centuries (Kimmerer 2002). I also use active learning approaches to close achievement gaps, allowing all students to be successful.
At WCSU, in addition to required courses BIO 104 General Biology II and BIO 260 Scientific Communication, I teach BIO 212 Plant Diversity and Evolution. In this course, students design and complete experiments, research interactions between plants and animals, and learn about the incredible adaptations that plants have evolved. Students will also learn to identify the local flora of western Connecticut.
I also teach BIO 422 Conservation Biology. This course focuses on examining the impact of anthropogenic global change. We read extensively from the primary literature, take field trips to census biodiversity, and develop quantitative models to assess management practices. Students also pursue a project researching aspects of conservation biology that are important to them.
I strongly value guided inquiry and experiential learning in undergraduate courses, in which students are able to do science as early and often as possible.
I enjoy the opportunity to work with students one-on-one. I have had the privilege of mentoring many talented undergraduate students as they complete research projects. I have led projects with several students that became their senior Honors theses. Students have learned how to do molecular genetic techniques in the lab, and field and greenhouse work.
Students I have mentored have continued on to medical school, doctoral programs in ecology and conservation biology, and employment with county parks systems and U.S. Bureau of Land Management.